Wild-card race in the west, the main weekend for sowing seeds

The playoff races in the NHL this season are not much more dramatic than in the past.

The eight Eastern Conference play-off teams are all locked up and most of the Western Conference teams already know whether they will be on the field or out.

There are 24 games from Friday to Sunday, so there could be a lot of change by the time rotating around Monday morning. A handful of teams are still fighting for the wild card. The most important jockey for location this weekend should be West.

With less than a month to go before the Stanley Cup playoffs, check out the play-off pictures before Friday’s slate and some storylines to watch over the weekend:

Eastern Conference

If the playoffs start today, these are the first round matchups of our previous conference:

(A1) Panther Vs. (WC2) Capital

(A2) Maple Leafs Vs. (A3) Bruins

(M1) Hurricane Vs. (WC1) Lightning

(M2) Rangers vs. (M3) Penguin

Western Conference

If the playoffs start today, these will be our first round matchups of the Western Conference:

(C1) Snowfall vs. (WC2) Golden Nights

(C2) Wild vs. (C3) Blues

(P1) Flame Vs. (WC1) Hunter

(P2) King vs. (P3) Oilers

What to see this weekend

Wild, Blues Central is fighting for home-ice benefits
Wild at Blues: Friday, April 8 at 8 p.m. ET / 7 o’clock CT

With Nashville not hiding in the Central Picture towards the end of the regular season, it looks like Prides will be a wild-card team as Minnesota and St. Louis face each other in the opening round.

Won the first meeting with The Blues Wild, 6-4 outdoors on New Year’s Day, and the two teams are fighting for a position behind the snow all season.

Both teams have recently had positive results, with the Wild 11-2-2 last month and the Blues beating their opponents 27-16 to win five of six. These teams will end their three-match season series next weekend.

Capital, double matinee for penguins
Penguin Capital: Saturday, April 9, at 3 pm ET SN1
Bruins in the Capital: Sunday, April 10, 1:30 ET at SN360
Penguin Hunter: Sunday, April 10, at 4 p.m. on SN360

Neither Pittsburgh nor Washington are playing their best hockey, especially in the last seven games. The Penguins have lost three straight and are 2-5-1, while Washington are 3-4-0 late. The Capitals hold two games in Pence’s hands, so their Saturday afternoon matchup result could have an impact in the opening round if Washington can catch Pittsburgh. Both teams will have less than 24 hours to rest for Sunday afternoon’s tough games against the play-off-bound teams fighting for the position.

Oil experts looking for home ice, Avs looking at the President Trophy
Snowfall at Oilers: Saturday, April 9, 10 pm ET / 8 pm MT SN

Saturday’s best match is between the two hottest teams. The Avalanches controlled their fortunes in the Presidency Trophy race with a 9-1-1 victory over their last 11 and one more victory than Florida.

Colorado lost to Edmonton 3-2 in overtime when the two teams met for the first time this season less than three weeks ago. Nathan McKinnon, Miko Rantanen and Cal Makar each had a two-point night. Avis will start Friday-night play at Winnipeg, so Edmonton will be the team to rest more.

Edmonton are unlikely to catch Calgary with just 10 games left in their schedule, but the Eulers maintain a comfortable lead over the Kings to finish second in the Pacific, which probably means a home-ice advantage in the opening round against the first round. Opponent LA

The Eulers have won six in a row, with Art Ross pioneer Connor McDavid riding a 15-game point streak (13 goals, 16 assists).

Can they move away from the Golden Nights?
Devil at Stars: Saturday, April 9, 2pm ET / 1pm CT
Coyotes at the Golden Nights: Sunday, April 10, 10 pm ET / 8 pm MT
Blackhawks stars: Sunday, April 10, at 6 pm ET / 5 pm CT SN360

Dallas West is two points ahead of Vegas for the final wild-card spot and the Stars have two games in hand. Both the Devils and the Blackhawks are at the bottom of the standings and, at least on paper, it should be two more wins of 7-2-1 in their last 10 for a Star team. If Vegas can win its game against 32nd place Coyotes on Saturday night, it will save a slim-but-potential chance to qualify for the post-season.

If Dallas is six points ahead of Vegas by Monday morning, it could be the screen for the Golden Knights, a team that has never missed a playoff in their five-year short history. Dallas and Vegas will meet on April 26 in a final match that could potentially affect who’s inside and who’s out.

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