A Canuck fan’s guide to what Saturday means for the playoffs

Saturday is the final day of the 2011-12 regular season, with all 30 teams playing their 82nd game of the year, including the Canucks, who host the Oilers. There’s still much to be decided. The 16 organizations heading to the first round of the postseason have all been established, but in many cases the clubs they’ll be meeting there have not.

This is especially true in the Western Conference, where zero of the 8 playoffs teams have clinched their seeding. Try to make sense of this: The Canucks currently sit in 1st, but they can still be passed by the 2nd place St. Louis Blues. The Phoenix Coyotes are holding down the Pacific Division lead and the automatic 3rd seed that comes with it, but with a loss, they can be overtaken by the winner of the Sharks and Kings’ Saturday evening affair. (Meanwhile, the loser of that game will finish 8th.) The Nashville Predators are in 4th, but they can still be passed by the 5th place Detroit Red Wings, who can still be passed by the 6th place Chicago Blackhawks. Still with me?

Normally, in cases like this, you could put on your fan blinders and avoid the confusion altogether, but simply focusing on what’s at stake for the home team will still yield a dizzying mess. Thankfully, PITB is here to help. Here’s a guide to what you, the Canuck fan, need to know about Saturday.

1) The Presidents’ Trophy race.

The Canucks enter Saturday’s action tied with the New York Rangers atop the NHL. However, the Rangers officially hold top spot by virtue of having more non-shootout wins. (Hey, remember when the Canucks were bad at shootouts and everyone was mad about it? Yeah, well, this year they’ve been good at shootouts and it could cost them. Irony.)

Basically, this means that the Canucks need the Rangers to lose to the Washington Capitals in order to have a chance to finish the night a point ahead of them. The odds aren’t in the Canucks’ favour, but the Capitals can still clinch the Southeast Division title with a win and a Florida Panthers’ regulation loss, so they’ll be motivated to beat their rivals from New York.

For what it’s worth, don’t lament the Presidents’ trophy if the Rangers win it. In the last 20 years, the number one seeds from the East and West have met in the Stanley Cup Final one time (2001). In short, if the Canucks win the Western Conference title and then make the Final, the likelihood of meeting the Rangers, the only team that would have home ice advantage over them, is quite slim.

So let’s turn our attention to the West.

2) The Western Conference title.

This is much more attainable; Vancouver doesn’t even have to win to win it. They have 109 points to St. Louis’s 107. In short, If the Blues lose to the Stars — a distinct possibility since St. Louis has lost 4 straight, the Canucks win regardless of what happens in their game. The only way the Canucks can lose the Western Conference title is by losing to the Edmonton Oilers in regulation while the St. Louis Blues gain 2 points by any means. Since the Blues hold the tiebreaker (again, non-shootout wins), they would win the West in this instance.

But man, if the Canucks don’t win the West, things get really weird.

3) The Canucks’ first round playoff opponent.

This is some confounding stuff right here.

It’s simplest if the Canucks gain a point. In that case, they finish 1st in the West and play the loser of the Sharks/Kings match, guaranteed to finish 8th.

If, however, the Canucks are passed by the Blues and slip to 2nd, they can play any one of the Sharks, Kings, or Coyotes. Remember that the Sharks and Kings play each other, while the Coyotes play the Minnesota Wild. Here are your possibilities:

The Canucks will play the Coyotes if…

  • The Coyotes lose in regulation and the Kings win.
  • The Coyotes lose in regulation and the Sharks win.
  • The Coyotes lose in overtime or shootout and the Kings win in regulation or overtime.

The Canucks will play the Kings if…

  • The Coyotes win and the Kings win.
  • The Coyotes lose in overtime or shootout and the Kings win in shootout.

The Canucks will play the Sharks if…

  • The Coyotes win and the Sharks win.
  • The Coyotes lose in overtime or shootout and the Sharks win.

 

Good grief. Maybe just go bowling or something and we’ll call you on Sunday.

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22 comments

  1. Winsy
    April 6, 2012

    in 1) you may want to change “Wednesday’s” to “Saturday’s” and there’s no way I’m going bowling and missing all this! lol I LOVE this stuff!

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  2. Joy
    April 6, 2012

    MY BRAIN JUST EXPLODED. But thank you for clarifying.

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  3. LuonGOLD
    April 6, 2012

    Goodness I love PITB. This makes things a lot clearer.

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    • Phileo99
      April 7, 2012

      I dunno, trying to decipher the playoff permutations, combinations, and implications is not the easiest kind of topic to tackle. And I tip off my (black) top hat to PITB for making the ever valiant attempt to explain it in layman’s terms, but at the end of the day, this was still my result:

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  4. Micheal
    April 7, 2012

    I dun get it. St Louis is 2 points behind us and we have two more wins. Does it go by season series?

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    • Anonymous
      April 7, 2012

      If we lose and Blues win, they get 1st by nature of ROW (non-shootout wins, 42 vs 44). The only time head-to-head is used is when the teams ROW are tied.

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      • Micheal
        April 7, 2012

        Ah yes thanks.. I missed that.

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  5. Locode
    April 7, 2012

    nice problem to have. I remember the dark days when we were out of the playoff picture by December. And that was when 16/21 teams made it.

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  6. EastVanHalen
    April 7, 2012

    I need to re-read this drunk.

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  7. shoes
    April 7, 2012

    What a relief to read an article in a vancouver paper about the Canucks that does not throw a single player under the bus. My Gawd….our sports writers in this wonderful city all look like they are sucking on lemons to start their day and all act like their underwear is “pinchey” I personally think the team is hanging on to their PP moves untill the playoffs. You have to admit that if the Canucks only “pretend” to make that drop pass to the trailing forward…..they will wind up with a brief 5 on 3 as the other team will have a guy scratching his head at center ice. That would work 2-3 times and then they could go back to the drop pass.

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    • Brent
      April 7, 2012

      I think we should throw Steve Pinizzotto under the bus. I mean what has that guy done for the team since September?

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  8. shoes
    April 7, 2012

    I don’t care who we get of the 13 possibles, but IMO the sharks are the most beatable, because Aunty Niemi is the weakest of the goaltenders.

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    • Brent
      April 7, 2012

      And there would be that bonus of knocking Joe “finger in the face” Thorton out of the playoffs.

      For some reason I am most worried about playing LA in the first round.

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    • the real bob
      April 7, 2012

      and the stanchions are the bane of their existence

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  9. Andre
    April 7, 2012

    Watch Ryan Clowe throw a stick into your calculations and, out of nowhere, derail your permutations.

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  10. Zach Morris
    April 7, 2012

    Fans, fasten your seatbelts.

    The vitriol we’ve heard after a loss is nothing compared to the 40-day flood that will inevitably occur after a first-round loss to ANY of the three teams.

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  11. Cathylu
    April 7, 2012

    I don’t have the option of going bowling because I WON TICKETS TO TONIGHT’S GAME!! I still can’t hardly believe it. Tonight’s going to be exciting!

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    • Nee
      April 7, 2012

      Congrats!

      /eyes you jealously

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  12. Scout
    April 7, 2012

    I’m happy to leave Hockey Math to the professionals like PITB.

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  13. the real bob
    April 7, 2012

    if we play the sharks, they should scratch a forward for the stanchion

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  14. Thomas
    April 7, 2012

    I think Juice is falling asleep in that one

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  15. the real bob
    April 7, 2012

    well it’s round 2 against LA

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