After San Jose’s season finale, a shootout win over Phoenix on Saturday night, the Blackhawks need two points of their own from Sunday’s game against Detroit to clinch the top seed in the Western Conference.
The NHL scoreboard will be on everyone’s mind during the Hawks game Sunday, too.
At the same time as the Hawks game, the eighth seed Colorado Avalanche host the Los Angeles Kings. The Avs will be without Pete Mueller again (concussion), and will also be without stud rookie Matt Duchene. A source close to the situation told us on Saturday night that Duchene went straight to the emergency room after leaving Friday night’s game against the Hawks and had a ruptured spleen. This could jeopardize Duchene’s playoff availability, especially in round one.
If the Kings win Sunday, they would jump both Detroit and Nashville into the fifth seed in the West, and would play Phoenix in the first round. If the Kings lose in regulation, they would remain the seventh seed. If the Kings lose in overtime or a shootout, earning one point, then Detroit, LA and Nashville would all be tied with 100 points.
If the Red Wings beat the Blackhawks on Sunday, they would clinch the fifth seed. A Detroit win coupled with a Kings win would mean the Blackhawks would play division rival Nashville in the first round. If the Red Wings lose in regulation on Sunday, one of two scenarios would play out. A regulation loss for Detroit coupled with the Kings getting one or two points on Sunday would push the Red Wings into the seventh seed. A regulation loss for Detroit coupled with a regulation loss for the Kings would make LA the seventh seed and Detroit the sixth.
If the Blackhawks win:
in regulation – the Red Wings have 100 points and could end up as either the sixth or seventh seed. Nashville, with more wins, has the tie-breaker with Detroit. The six seed would play Vancouver in the first round. A regulation win for the Hawks would clinch the Western Conference’s top seed, and the Hawks would host Colorado in round one.
in overtime/shootout – the Blackhawks still win the west and host Colorado. Detroit, however, passes Nashville and would be either the fifth or sixth seed, depending on the outcome of the Kings-Avs game Sunday.
If the Blackhawks lose, it doesn’t matter if the game ends in regulation or overtime, they still end the regular season in second in the Western Conference. They would now need to scoreboard watch.