While the Vancouver Canucks took the day off, the Dallas Stars locked up the final playoff spot in the Western Conference on Wednesday night by simply reaching overtime against the Arizona Coyotes. The one point earned in the standings put their wild card spot out of reach of the Vegas Golden Knights who would have been eliminated anyway by losing 4-3 in a shoot-out to the Chicago Blackhawks.
For the record, the Coyotes ended up winning the game against Dallas in overtime 4-3, ultimately coming back from a 3-0 deficit.
Pick Your Poison
The Western Conference wild card seedings remain uncertain and will apparently come down to the final night of the season. The Stars are two points ahead of the Nashville Predators, but the Pred’s have a game in-hand. Simply put, the “winner” of this standings battle will be rewarded a first-round match-up against the Calgary Flames while the 2nd wild card, or Western Conference eight-seed, will face the Colorado Avalanche.
The Av’s are in tough to repeat as Presidents Trophy winners as the NHL team with the best regular season record. Colorado sits two points behind the Florida Panthers in the overall league standings with each team having two games remaining. It’s down to those two clubs for the top regular season honour.
The Los Angeles Kings earned a playoff spot in the west, surprisingly. Prior to the season it seemed to most that all three of the California NHL franchises were deep enough in rebuilds that none would be able to muster a playoff run. The San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks prognostications proved accurate but the Kings took a quick step.
Captain Anze Kopitar has played in every game this season and at last count led the club in scoring by a fair amount with 66 points. Adrian Kempe has potted 34 goals, but for the most part it’s been very balanced scoring, surprisingly good D play, and resurgent goaltending from Jonathan Quick in particular.
Whatayaknow, Alexander Edler is headed to the playoffs, the Vancouver Canucks are not. The 36-year-old Swedish defenceman, in his first season in the NHL outside of Vancouver, has three goals and 19 points for LA.
By the way, it was the Kings who ended the Canucks initial seven-game win streak under then new head coach Bruce Boudreau in December. The royalty won 2-1 in a shoot-out in Tinseltown on the penultimate evening of 2021.
Then again, they were also Boudreau’s first win and Thatcher Demko’s only shut-out of the season. At home the Canucks beat the Kings 4-0 on December 6th.
The Vancouver Canucks will conduct their final home morning skate of the season at 10 am at Rogers Arena on Thursday while the LA Kings will avoid the rink altogether having played in Seattle against the Kraken on Wednesday night.