NHL Playoff Picture 2011: Washington, Philadelphia Can Clinch Friday Night

On Friday night, two teams in the Eastern Conference can join the Vancouver Canucks in the 2011 NHL playoffs.

With a victory over the New Jersey Devils, the Washington Capitals can clinch a playoff spot if the Carolina Hurricanes also lose to the New York Islanders in regulation. Meanwhile, as they watch the action from a Dallas hotel room, the Philadelphia Flyers could be rooting for the Capitals and Islanders as well. 

The Flyers will clinch a spot tonight if the Islanders beat the Hurricanes in regulation and the Devils lose to the Capitals in any way -- regulation, overtime, or shootout. In fact, even if the Devils win in a shootout, the Flyers can clinch with an NYI win as well. 

Or, to make things easier, they can just beat the Stars on Saturday night to solidfy a spot. 

Not much shifted in the Eastern Conference thanks to Thursday's action, but in the West, we did see some changes. Dallas beat Chicago to gain two points and leapfrog the Blackhawks for sixth place. Despite Nashville's win over Boston, they're still on the outside looking in, one point behind the Calgary Flames.

Calgary's win over Colorado bumped them back into the eighth spot, although they've played more games than any other team in the West. Los Angeles lost big to the St. Louis Blues, which allowed Dallas to pull closer to that fifth spot, while Phoenix, Detroit and San Jose all helped themselves with victories. 

The Sharks win over Minnesota helped to push the Wild further down the line. They now sit six points down of the eighth spot in the West. 

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