There is a lot of drama unfolding in the NHL’s Western Conference, and Tuesday could be a pivotal day in deciding the final playoff seeds. A number of games will take place tonight, the outcomes of which will hold the futures of as many as nine teams in the balance.
7:30 PM CST – Chicago Blackhawks @ Dallas Stars
This game is tricky for the Hawks because the Stars aren’t in the playoffs right now, and the scoreboard will be as tempting to watch as Pamela Anderson on “Dancing with the Stars.” The veteran Stars, though, are close enough to the playoffs that dillusions of postseason action and the opportunity to knock off one of the league’s elite for their home fans in April will drive the home Stars. The Hawks need to get up early and run away. The game will be televised locally on Comcast SportsNet in Chicago.
8:30 PM CST – San Jose Sharks @ Calgary Flames
This is a huge game for the entire complexion of the Western Conference. The Flames are desperately chasing the eighth spot, and could make up two valuable points by beating the Sharks because of the Avalanche’s game later in the night. The Sharks, meanwhile, need to win out andget a loss from the Blackhawks somewhere between now and Sunday night to secure the top seed in the Western Conference.
9:00 PM CST – Colorado Avalanche @ Vancouver Canucks
This game doesn’t mean as much for the Canucks, who are essentially locked into the third seed in the West (five points behind the Blackhawks for second with three games to play; the Hawks have one in in-hand). However, the Avalanche have the blessing/curse of scoreboard watching with this game starting a half hour behind the Flames hosting the Sharks. The Avs are up two points on the Flames, with a game in-hand, and an Avs win coupled with a Flames loss on Tuesday would devastate the Flames playoff chances. However, a Flames win and an Avs loss opens the door for hope in Calgary. The Avalanche host the Blackhawks on Friday.
9:00 PM CST – Los Angeles Kings @ Anaheim Ducks
I know, it seems redundant to say Los Angeles at Anaheim, but the Kings will “visit” the Ducks in a crucial game for the Kings. When the Blackhawks beat the Flames in regulation Sunday, the Kings were assured of a playoff appearance. However, they’re now chasing the best seed possible for next week’s playoff opener. The Kings currently sit one point behind the Red Wings for the sixth seed with this evening’s game in-hand. A regulation win for the Kings would push Los Angeles into sixth, and the potential to play Vancouver in the first round; if Detroit ends as the seventh seed, they would face the second seed in the first round. The Blackhawks are currently the second seed.