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Game 81: Avalanche At Canucks, Oh My God This Is Important

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Sorry about the title of this post, I got a little caught up in the excitement.

First of all, Forsberg is reportedly "probable," according to this article by Terry Frei about why Coach Q hates Ryan Smyth.  John-Michael Liles apparently hurt his beautiful, modelesque groin muscle near the end of the game against the Wild on Sunday, but he is also supposedly good to go tonight.  Don't bet money on anything the Avalanche organization says.  Ever.

The Avs have played well against Vancouver this season, and they've chased Roberto Luongo twice so far.  Hopefully he doesn't play a full game again.

Now, what are the playoff implications of tonight's matchup?  First of all, if the Avs win tonight, they clinch a spot in the playoffs.  But that's not the only result of winning.  Remember that the Avalanche can still win the Northwest Division as long as they beat Vancouver tonight and Minnesota on April 6th.  Oh, and as long as Minnesota doesn't win against Calgary on the 3rd.  If Calgary wins that game, but no more than two in their last three, the Avs get another banner for the Pepsi Center rafters.  Low probability?  Well, kind of, but there's still a chance.

An Avalanche win moves them to 93 points.  If Nashville beats those suckasses in St. Louis, they would steal the eighth spot from Vancouver and (I think) eliminate Chicago from contention.  If the Avs win, Nashville loses, and Edmonton beats Calgary, then the Oilers move into eighth.  If the Avs win, Calgary wins and Nashville loses, the standings stay the same, with Colorado in sixth, Calgary in seventh and the Canucks in the last spot.

Now, nightmare of nightmares, if the Avs lose and Calgary wins, the Avs drop to seventh place just one point ahead of the Canucks.  If Nashville wins as well, the Avs would be just two points ahead of the Predators with only a single game left to play.

Confused yet?  Obviously, there are still lots of possibilities.  Playing in Colorado's favor is their win total.  With two games left to play, they have 42 wins.  The Avs would beat both Vancouver and Calgary in tie-breakers (better record in each respective series), but could lose a tie-breaker to Nashville if the Predators a) win the rest of their games, and b) surpass the Avs' goals-scored total.  Right now, the Avs lead with 223 goals scored to 222, but the Predators have three games to play while the Avs have two.  The two teams finished their series 2-2 this season.

Way too much seriousness to digest on April Fool's Day, that's for sure.

All that really matters is that the Avs win tonight and clinch at least some spot in the playoffs, whether it be third or eighth seed.  If they lose, well, anything could happen.

The game starts late tonight, at 8:00 PM Mountain time, 10:00 PM Eastern, and will be on Versus.  At least the feed should be better than Altitude's complete screw-up of the Avs' last game, we hope.

ESPN preview.