As it turns out, the Atlanta Thrashers are going to have a big say about which team wins the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Their win on Thursday night over the New York Rangers shifted the balance of power around the No. 8 seed in the East, putting control of that spot into the hands of the No. 9 Carolina Hurricanes.
Here's how it stands on Friday morning. The Hurricanes have two games remaining, one Friday and one Saturday. They trail the Rangers by two points for that No. 8 seed, but the Rangers only have one game remaining, on Saturday against New Jersey. Carolina holds the second tiebreaker and is positioned to take the first tiebreaker with one regulation win.
Should the Canes win out, they will pass the Rangers. It's really as simple as that.
But again, the Thrashers will have something to say about that. Friday night's Hurricanes game is down in Atlanta against the division rival Thrashers, and they can once again spoil the party for another team. It'll be a fun two days in the East, for sure.
Out West, Dallas is still clinging to life thanks to a win over Colorado on Thursday. Technically speaking, they could still advance as high as No. 5 in the Western Conference, but Phoenix and Nashville both have magic numbers of one point to clinch as they enter the final two games. Anaheim has a magic number of two, while No. 8 Chicago has a magic number of three.
There's nothing Dallas can do besides hope for losses from the teams ahead of them.