â†µFRIDAY â†µ â†µâ†µ
â†µAll eight playoff spots have been clinched in the Eastern Conference, which means all eyes this weekend will be at the bottom of the draw in the West where four teams -- Anaheim, St. Louis, Nashville and Minnesota -- are tangling for just two spots. That means kicking off your Friday night at 8:00 p.m. with Nashville@Minnesota, essentially an elimination game for the Wild, and more than likely, for long-time head coach Jacques Lemaire. Then be sure to flip over to Columbus@St. Louis at 8:30 p.m. EDT followed by Dallas@Anaheim at 10:00 p.m. â†µâ†µ
â†µSticking with the race at the bottom of the draw in the West, you'll want to watch Minnesota@Columbus at 7:00 p.m. if the Wild haven't already been eliminated after Friday night's action. Just an hour later, there's Anaheim@Phoenix. You'd figure that teams who have already made the playoffs would be taking it easy this weekend, but it's always a good idea to keep an eye out when good teams play one another. Such is the case with Carolina@New Jersey in a 1:00 p.m. start and Pittsburgh@Montreal. The Panthers are out, but Alex Ovechkin's teammates will probably be wanting to help him catch Evgeni Malkin for the overall scoring lead, so be sure to at least look in on Washington@Florida at 7:00 p.m. Before you go to bed, spend a few minutes watching Edmonton@Calgary beginning at 10:00 p.m. Why? Because it may well just be the last chance you get to see Craig MacTavish coach the Oilers. â†µâ†µ
â†µSUNDAY â†µ â†µâ†µ
â†µThere's only one last game that matters in terms of playoff qualification on the regular season's final day, and that's St. Louis@Colorado. The misery ends here for an awful Avalanche team, so look for St. Louis to pick up two points and sew up a playoff spot. If that doesn't tickle your fancy, you can always watch the NBC Game of the Week, the second half of a home-and-home series between Chicago and Detroit, or take a gander at another traditional rivalry when the Rangers visit Philadelphia. â†µâ†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.