I've been trying to wrap my head around the playoff math in the Western Conference. I made a little chart, showing the different possible outcomes for Dallas's final two games, and what records Chicago, Anaheim, Nashville and Phoenix would need to make the playoffs, in each case.
The far left column gives Dallas's possible records over its last two games. ROW = regulation or OT wins. SW = shoot-out wins. SL = shoot-out losses. If a box is blank, the team in question clinches if Dallas gets the record on the corresponding row.
In every case but one, only a point total is indicated. This means that it doesn't matter how the team gets to that point total (i.e. they don't have to have a certain number of ROWs to qualify). However, in one case (CHI when DAL goes 1-0-1-0), a record is shown. This is because, with Dallas at 97/37, Chicago needs to pick up an ROW so that they get to 97/38.
The asterisks indicate an exception. Nashville clinches with 100% certainty at 98, however, they may also be able to squeak in at 97, even if Dallas goes 1-0-1-0 (the second row of the chart). Here's how that could shake out:
- If the Preds and Dallas are tied at 97/37, they also tied their season series, which sends it to goal-differential, and the Preds will (unless some historic blow-outs occur over the weekend) prevail.
- However, if the Preds and Dallas are in a three-way tie at 97/37, they will LOSE the head-to-head tie-breaker if the third team in the three-way is Chicago.
- In order for that to happen, Chicago would have to go 0-1-1-0 (win only once and only in a shoot-out) and Dallas would have to go 1-0-1-0 (win twice, but once in a shoot-out) and Nashville would have to lose out. In that eventuality, Nashville loses the tie-breaker and misses the playoffs (unless, while all that is going on, Anaheim gets only one point, in which case, Anaheim plays golf).
- However, if the three-way doesn't involve Chicago, then Nashville is fine at 97 and can happily lose out. Not really worth the risk, though.
- Chicago's asterisk in the same row is also Nashville/3-way-related. If Dallas goes 1-0-1-0, Chicago is 100% guaranteed to qualify if they pick up an extra ROW by going at worst 1-1-0-0. That gets them to 97/38 and they would prevail in the ROW tie-breaker.
- However, Chicago could also win a tie-breaker with Dallas at 97/37 -- despite the fact that they lost the season series with Dallas -- provided that it's a three-way tie or a four-way tie that involves Nashville.
|ROW-L-SW-SL||Then [team] must...|