NHL playoff picture: Red Wings try to hang in the eighth seed

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Plus, which team can clinch without even playing tonight?

Thursday night a couple of teams get big wins that will help keep them in good playoff standing.

In the Eastern Conference, both the Senators and Islanders got big road wins to keep themselves at 46 points and holding onto the sixth and seventh seeds, respectively. Meanwhile, the Jets got two points to put them tied with the Rangers for eighth (but with two games in hand, so be wary) at 44. Montreal clinched a playoff berth with a victory over Buffalo. The Bruins loss to the Islanders was the only thing keeping them from clinching.

In the Western Conference, the Blues shutout the Wild on the road to take over sole possession of the sixth seed from Minnesota, who now drifts back toward the bubble. San Jose got a three-point win over Detroit, meaning the Sharks stay in fifth and Detroit stays two points clear of the bubble, which will become important when we preview Friday night's games. The Kings moved even closer to a playoff spot with a win over Colorado.

Here's a look at the current playoff picture:

Eastern Conference

Clinched Playoff Spot:

1. Pittsburgh Penguins, 62 points (41 games played)

2. Montreal Canadiens, 57 points (40 GP)

Currently in Playoff Position:

3. Washington Capitals, 46 points (41 GP)

4. Boston Bruins, 56 points (40 GP)

5. Toronto Maple Leafs, 49 points (40 GP)

6. Ottawa Senators, 46 points (40 GP)

7. New York Islanders, 46 points (41 GP)

8. New York Rangers, 44 points (40 GP)

On the Bubble:

9. Winnipeg Jets, 44 points (42 GP)

Western Conference

Clinched Playoff Spot:

1. Chicago Blackhawks, 64 points (39 GP)

Currently in Playoff Position:

2. Anaheim Ducks, 59 points (41 GP)

3. Vancouver Canucks, 52 points (40 GP)

4. Los Angeles Kings, 50 points (41 GP)

5. San Jose Sharks, 49 points (40 GP)

6. St. Louis Blues, 48 points (39 GP)

7. Minnesota Wild, 46 points (40 GP)

8. Detroit Red Wings, 44 points (40 GP)

On the Bubble:

9. Phoenix Coyotes, 42 points (40 GP)

10. Dallas Stars, 41 points (39 GP)

11. Columbus Blue Jackets, 41 points (40 GP)

Here are some of tonight's games that will directly affect playoff positioning:

Ottawa vs. New Jersey, 7 p.m. ET

The Senators, surprisingly, probably have as much at stake in this game as the hapless Devils, who essentially need to go 6-2-0 in their last eight to have a fighting shot. The Senators have gone a limp 4-6-0 in their last 10, and a 60-minute loss drops them beneath the Islanders and into the seventh seed. Plus, if the Devils won, it could potentially put two teams (including the Jets) on a late-season surge to try and get back in. With Ottawa struggling of late, you don't want to add more parties interested in replacing you.

St. Louis vs. Columbus, 7 p.m. ET

The Western Conference, ladies and gentlemen: where the Blue can go from teetering on the edge of the eighth seed one week to getting within a couple points of the amount perceived to be needed to make the post-season, which is where the Blues can get with another win tonight. Columbus, meanwhile, would move within one point of Detroit with a win and a 60-minute loss by the Red Wings. A 60-minute loss, however, might mean the end of this fun Blue Jackets run.

Dallas vs. Nashville, 8 p.m. ET

It appears as if we've seen the end of Nashville, who can only max out at 52 points if they go undefeated the rest of the way. The Stars, however, are surprisingly valid for playoff hopes should they win tonight. A Dallas win puts them at 43 points, essentially a 4-3-1 record from 52 and a real shot at getting in. More importantly, a win and a Red Wings loss in 60 minutes puts them within one point of Detroit with a game in hand.

Detroit vs. Chicago, 8:30 p.m. ET

We've spoken a lot about what happens should Detroit lose already, but here's what happens if they win: they at least keep their two-point lead on ninth and possibly extend it to four, and they'd tie the Wild for seventh. The Wild would still hold a technical tiebreaker on games played. As for Chicago, a win and a St. Louis loss of any sort gives them the Central Division title.

Phoenix vs. Calgary, 9 p.m. ET

Jeez, the Coyotes just somehow hang around every single year. They're two points behind the Red Wings for eighth. Detroit holds any relevant tiebreakers over the Yotes, so a win would only give them a tie of eighth. A loss would probably hurt more than a win would help, to be honest. Calgary would move their tragic number to elimination to two points with a loss and a Detroit win.

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