NHL playoff race: Red Wings, Blue Jackets can clinch; Pacific race might be over

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The Eastern Conference playoff field could be set on Wednesday night, and the race in the Pacific Division could end as well. We're a week from the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

If the playoffs started today...

Tuesday was busy

Five teams faced elimination on Tuesday night in the NHL playoff picture, and four of them saw it come to fruition. Two teams clinched, as well. It was a busy evening.

There are only five games around the league on this final Wednesday of the regular season, but there's a lot that could be settled.

Pacific Division race could wrap up

San Jose sits just three points back of Anaheim in the Pacific Division race. They play each other Wednesday. It's like the schedule makers planned the drama.

The Ducks can wrap up the Pacific title with any type of win over the Sharks on Wednesday. In doing so, they'd also guarantee a first-round meeting between San Jose and the Los Angeles Kings. The Sharks would have home-ice advantage in that series.

Settling the Eastern playoff field

There will still be jockeying for seeding after Wednesday's action, but the Eastern Conference playoff field could be set by the end of the night.

If the Blue Jackets earn two points in their game against the Stars, they'll clinch a playoff berth. The Red Wings, meanwhile, can clinch a playoff berth with just a single point against the Penguins.

Should Columbus and Detroit each clinch, they'll eliminate the New Jersey Devils from playoff contention and we'll have our eight Eastern playoff teams.

Detroit hasn't missed the playoff since 1989-90 -- in fact, they've won the Stanley Cup four times since the last time they missed the postseason.

Stars need points

Dallas can't be eliminated, nor can they clinch, on Wednesday night, but earning points against Columbus would create some separation between themselves and the chasing Phoenix Coyotes.

Phoenix sits two points back of Dallas for the final wild card spot out West through 79 games. If Dallas fails to earn a point, the Coyotes will have an opportunity to catch them in the points race on Thursday when they visit Nashville. The Stars have clinched any potential tiebreaker between the two clubs, but they'd clearly rather it not come that close.

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