Obviously, last night was a huge win for the Avalanche, and gives us a chance to focus our attention a bit more on moving up in the playoff seeds. Anything better than a 7th or 8th seed would allow us to avoid a 1st round matchup with either San Jose or Detroit. As I've mentioned previously, with the win over Edmonton the only teams capable of knocking the Avs out are Nashville and Vancouver. The Avs can now clinch with a win combined with regulation losses by both either the Predators and Canucks (thanks Selanne).
None of the 13 Western Conference teams with playoff aspirations were eliminated last night. By losing to Nashville, the Blue Jackets move to the brink of official elimination; any loss (regulation or overtime) will knock them out and any point earned by Nashville or Vancouver ends their slim playoff hopes. Phoenix, Chicago and Edmonton are still in the mix, but all have their work cut out for them.
Games that affect us today / tonight:
Dallas @ Los Angeles (4pm Eastern): The Avalanche are currently tied with both Dallas and Calgary at 90 points. The Avs are in good shape against Calgary in the tiebreaker categories (points in head to head games, wins, and goal differential) but not Dallas. We'll have to finish with more points than the Stars if we want to be the 5th seed. Since that means a first round matchup against Anaheim, I'm not sure we actually want that.
Edmonton @ Calgary (10pm Eastern): We can now root for the Oilers without hesitation. Hopefully, last night's game will have fired up Edmonton instead of exhausting them. How did the Avalanche avoid these late back-to-back games? All the other NW teams have had a back-to-back in the last week, and all four teams lost at least one of the pair of games. All three of Colorado's wins this week were against a team involved in such a game, although in two of the three games it was the first of two games for the opponent. Either way, the schedule has probably helped us while hurting the teams we're chasing. Not a bad break at all.