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Answer: Chicago, Anaheim or Dallas

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Question: Who is most likely to finish in 9th place? 

The Hawks need a record of 4-3-1 to get to 97 points. Anaheim needs a record of 4-3-0. Dallas needs 5-2-1. 

Remaining Games

Chicago (8): DET, BOS, CBJ, TBL, MTL, STL, DET, DET.

Dallas (8): PHX, SJS, LAK, ANA, CBJ, COL, COL, MIN.

Anaheim (7): COL, CGY, SJS, DAL, SJS, LAK, LAK. 

Why Anaheim will prevail:

  • they are 7-3-0 in their last ten. Chicago is 5-3-2 in their last ten. Dallas is 4-3-3. 
  • They have a (probably secure) lead in tie-breaker wins. 
  • They have already clinched the season series against Dallas and Chicago. 
  • They have one more game against Dallas, and since the Ducks will have lost to the Kings the night before, they will be angry.

Why they won't:

  • Anaheim plays San Jose twice and LA twice. 
  • Jonas Hiller got pulled the other night in his first game back from injury. 

Why Chicago will prevail:

  • They are ahead of Dallas in tie-breaker wins. 
  • They are the Stanley Cup Champions. 

Why they won't:

  • they play Detroit three times, including a home-and-home to close out the season.
  • They have three tough out-of-conference games (TBL, BOS, MTL).
  • They are behind Anaheim in tie-breaker wins. 
  • They have already lost season series against both Anaheim and Dallas. 
  • They don't play any more games against teams they are fighting for a spot, so the best they can do is win their own games; they can't make their rivals lose. 

Why Dallas will prevail:

  • They close out the season with four games against non-playoff teams. 
  • They beat Chicago in their season series.
  • They have one game left against Anaheim, and it's the second of a back-to-back for the Ducks. 

Why they won't:

  • It's the second of a back-to-back for them, too. 
  • And it comes after they've played PHX, SJS and LAK.
  • Their last game is against the Wild, who will enjoy ruining their lives on the last day of the season.
  • They lost the season series with Anaheim...
  • ...but that doesn't matter, since they are way behind in tie-breaker wins. 

Prediction

  • Chicago will win 4 of the 6 games leading up to the home-and-home with the Wings. They will have 96 points going into that series. 
  • Anaheim will get 5 points out of their 5 games leading up to the home-and-home with the Kings. They will have 94 points going into the final weekend.
  • Dallas will get 5 points in their next 5 games, leading up to the home-and-home with Colorado and season finale against the Wild. They will have 91 points with three games left. 
  • Dallas will have to win all three games and hope that Chicago gets zero points from their 2 games against Detroit, or Anaheim does no better than a split against LA. 
  • Anaheim will likely take the 8th spot and open against the Canucks.
  • Chicago will open against the Wings. 

OR:

  • If Dallas can get 7 or 8 points out of their next five games -- PHX, SJS, LAK, ANA, CBJ -- they will go into their last three games with much more confidence.
  • With Dallas within reach, the pressure on Anaheim and Chicago will increase exponentially. 
  • Dallas could then easily get four points out of its last three games, ending up at 97.
  • Chicago and Anaheim split their home-and-homes.
  • Chicago finishes with 98. Plays Detroit.
  • Anaheim finishes with 96. They're out.
  • Dallas plays Vancouver.

OR:

  • It's a three way tie.
  • First tie-breaker: wins (minus shoot-out wins). 
  • Anaheim is probably going to lead in this category. So they would get 7th.
  • Chicago currently has a two win advantage over Dallas. However, if Dallas manages to close the gap...
  • ...Dallas won the season series with the Hawks.
  • So Dallas would then take the 8th spot. 
  • And Chicago would be done. 
And, in case you're wondering, if a three-way tie were to come down to a three-way head-to-head-to-head tie-breaker, the result would be...

Anaheim 13 points, Dallas 10 points, Chicago 7 points.