For the first time in years, the Vancouver Canucks are struggling for their lives, trying to earn a playoff spot. But what’s it going to take to make it? (These calculations are partly my own mental math and have a small possibility of being flawed).
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Following the defeat of the L.A. Kings yesterday, the Canucks are now set to play the Arizona Coyotes and the Edmonton Oilers, who share the last two spots in the West. These should be easy games, I’m not saying they will be, but they should be.
Teams who have clinched a playoff spot in the West
Central Division: St. Louis, Nashville, Chicago
Pacific Division: Anaheim
As you can see, there are many up-for grabs playoff spots in the Pacific Division.
Teams still fighting for a playoff spot in the West
Central Division: Minnesota, Winnipeg
Pacific Division: Vancouver, Calgary, Los Angeles
Teams in the West who are out of the playoff race
Dallas, San Jose, Colorado, Edmonton, Arizona
The Anaheim Ducks have already clinched the Pacific Division, so the last spots available for Pacific Division teams are 2nd in the Pacific, 3rd in the Pacific, or a Wild Card spot. So the basics of it is; there are 5 teams still fighting for their lives for playoff spots, but there are only 4 available spots. It’s like musical chairs! But a lot more complicated.
What the Canucks need in these last days
As the clock ticks down until the end of the regular season, the Vancouver Canucks are 2nd in the Pacific Division. What will it take to keep them in a playoff spot? If the Canucks win against Arizona and Edmonton, then they stay right where they are and play against the 3rd place team in the Pacific for the first round of the playoffs. The Kings and the Flames are potential threats to the Canucks because they are both just 4 points shy of Vancouver, and have a game in hand with 3 games left.
How the Calgary Flames can beat the Canucks
If Calgary wants to beat the Canucks in the standings, they will have to A: Win all 3 of their games in any fashion (providing the Canucks don’t get 3 or more points in their last 2 games,) or B: Win two of their 3 games in regulation or OT, (providing the Canucks lose both of their last games in regulation.) if that happens, they beat the Canucks in the standings based on Regulation and OT Wins (which is why they need to stay away from shootouts).
How the L.A. Kings could beat the Canucks
L.A. has a less impressive Regulation and OT Wins number. They have 37, while the Canucks have 40 and the Flames have 39. For the Kings to push the Canucks out of 2nd in the West, L.A. would need to A: Win all 3 games in any fashion (providing the Canucks get less than 3 points in their 2 remaining games), or B: Win 2 of their 3 games in any fashion, and get at least one point in the other game (providing the Canucks lose both of their last games in regulation.)
How the Wild Card teams could beat the Canucks
In all the scenarios above, the Canucks got 2 or less points. For the Canucks to clinch a playoff spot, they could also just get 3 or more points vs. the Coyotes and Oilers. But if they get 2 or less, Minnesota and Winnipeg, who are currently in the Wild Card spots, are ready to pounce.
Let’s say the Kings and the Flames both miraculously beat the Canucks in the West. Even in the best case scenario after that, there’s a chance they will miss out on the 2015 playoffs. If the Canucks got 2 points during the last 2 games for 99 overall (best case scenario providing the Kings and Flames beat them in the standings), the Jets could win all 3 of their games to get 100 points. And all the Wild would need to do is win 2 of their last 3 games for 100 points.
If all these teams (the Kings, Flames, Wild, Jets) can beat the Canucks with the scenarios described, Vancouver could miss the playoffs for the second time in a row. And remember, if the Canucks take matters into their own hands and get at least 3 points in 2 games, they are guaranteed 2nd in the Pacific. If they beat at least one of the scenarios above, they’re in. If everything happens to fall apart and all the scenarios come true, the Vancouver Canucks are out.