With less than a month left in the regular NHL season, some of the top teams in the league are already clinching their spots in the playoffs this year.
The St. Louis Blues were the first team to due so in the West, while they remain ahead in the entire league. So far they are the only team to due so in the Western Conference, but the Vancouver Canucks have clinched their division so it is only a matter of time before they too are granted a spot in the playoffs. They will actually clinch tonight if they are able to beat the Colorado Avalanche or if The Calgary Flames cannot get two points in their game against the Stars. The Dallas Stars who are third in the Conference and the division leader for the Pacific, will most likely clinched in only a matter of games.
As for the East, The New York Rangers who have been at the top of the conference all season were the first to clinch a spot in the Playoffs. The Pittsburgh Penguins have already clinched their spot too, while The Florida Panthers and the Boston Bruins remain locked in battle for another spot, as both teams sit at the top of their respective divisions. The Philadelphia Flyers have been only one step behind the Pens all season, and during the clinch period for the playoffs, this is no different. If the Flyers win their game tonight against the Montreal Canadiens they will also clinch. If this game does go to an overtime or shootout period and the Flyers still lose, they are still given a spot in the playoffs. They can even clinch if the Winnipeg Jets or the Buffalo Sabres lose. So no matter what it is almost a grantee that the Flyers will clinch their spots in the playoffs in the next few days.
With a few teams trying to clinch, there are still a couple of teams that are fighting hard in these last couple of months to get a spot in the playoffs. In the East the battle for the 8th seed is between The Washington Capitals, The Buffalo Sabres and the Winnipeg Jets. The Caps and the Sabres are pretty much locked into a battle, as both teams need at least 4 more wins to take the 8th position. The Jets need a bigger push if they want the position, since they need 6 more wins.
In the West, the Stars, Avalanche, Sharks and Flames are all duking it out for the last spot in the playoffs. The Stars currently have the spot and only need five more wins, similar to the Avalanche. While the Sharks and the Flames both need to win six more games if they want a spot in the playoffs.
It will be a tough battle, which only means that the next few weeks and during the playoffs, each team will be fighting harder than before to secure wins.