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NHL Open Thread: Saturday April 12th

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Joel Auerbach

Two more days left in the regular season and we've got games that actually matter. Hockey starts at 12:30 today, but if you're only worried about games which affect the Wings' seeding, you'll have to wait until 3:00. There will be a lull from about 5:30 to 7:00, but other than that, hockey goes from 12:30pm to 1:00am tonight.

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Detroit is tied with both Philadelphia and Columbus at 91 points. They need to finish ahead of one of those two if they want the top Wild Card seed. The problem is that the Wings lose tiebreakers to both of those teams (regulation or overtime wins). The Wings finish up their season tomorrow in St. Louis. Columbus is done after tonight in Florida. Philadelphia has another game tomorrow at home versus Carolina. No matter what, the Wings will have to earn points tomorrow against a St. Louis squad that has lost five straight games.

Bottom line: I'm not counting on Philadelphia failing to get fewer than two points this weekend. It's possible, but I doubt it will happen. Forget about overtaking them. Won't happen. That leaves us needing Florida to take a victory against Columbus. Mathematically, Florida should throw this game. The Panthers are one point ahead of Edmonton in the standings, but the Oilers would finish ahead of them on a tiebreaker. The Oilers play against Vancouver tonight. If Florida loses and Edmonton gets at least one point, the Panthers move up in the draft lottery.

Fortunately, teams play for pride this time of year, so anything could happen. If Columbus fails to get two points, that leaves tomorrow's game against the Blues as meaningful. A Columbus regulation loss lets us play for the tie. An OT loss by the BJs, and Detroit has to go for the throat.

The only other meaningful standings race right now is between Montreal and Tampa for the home ice advantage in their upcoming first round meeting. Montreal sits one point behind the Bolts. They need to either beat the Rangers today and hope the Bolts lose tomorrow at Washington, or they need to push today's game to overtime and hope Washington can keep Tampa from gaining a single point. In any version of outcome combinations which lead to both teams tying for points, the Habs will have the ROW tiebreaker.

I'll be interested to see what happens to Tampa now that the news of Ryan Malone's arrest for DUI and possession of cocaine hit today. What a shit that guy is. He's been a healthy scratch for the last three games, so it's not like he's messing with line chemistry, but it's a distraction they don't need.