[April 08, 2014](Reuters) — The National Hockey
League's regular season enters its final week with plenty at stake as
six playoff spots, two division titles, a conference champion and the
Presidents' Trophy still up for grabs.
The postseason picture is a bit clearer in the Eastern Conference
where the Boston Bruins have clinched top spot along with the
Atlantic Division title while the Pittsburgh Penguins have locked up
first place in the Metropolitan Division.
But in the West, where the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche,
Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles
Kings have all secured playoff spots, there is no such clarity with
the both the Central Division and Pacific Division titles and the
conference championship still undecided.
Much of the drama over the final week will revolve around the
wild-card races in both conferences and it could come down to the
final day of season in the West when the Dallas Stars visit the
The Stars are clinging to the second wild-card spot with 87 points,
one point clear of the Coyotes and both teams left with four games
on their schedules.
The Minnesota Wild, with 92 points and four games to play, have a
tight grip on the West's other wild card.
In the East, the Detroit Red Wings, bidding for their 23rd
consecutive trip to the playoffs, and Columbus Blue Jackets have
control of the two wild cards.
But both teams cannot afford any stumbles down the stretch with the
New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals all
in hot pursuit.
All five teams in the East wild-card race have four games to play
except the Maple Leafs, who have three.
The Red Wings occupy the first wild-card position with 88 points
followed by the Blue Jackets (87), Devils (84), Maple Leafs (84) and
While those teams in the wild-card hunt are in a race for their
playoff lives, the clubs ahead of them are seeking to secure
By taking the conference crown the Bruins have secured home ice
right through to the Stanley Cup finals, should they get that far,
while the Penguins have clinched the second seed and a first round
meeting with a wild card.
But the red-hot Montreal Canadiens, winners of eight of their last
10, and the Tampa Bay Lightning are locked in a fight for second in
the Atlantic and home ice advantage in what is shaping up as a
first-round meeting between those two teams.
In the Metropolitan, the New York Rangers can clinch a post-season
place on Monday if the Devils lose to the Calgary Flames.
With 111 points the Blues are closing in on the Western Conference
crown and Central Division titles, which would earn St. Louis home
ice through to the Cup finals.
The Presidents' Trophy, which goes to the team with the best regular
season record, is quickly boiling down to a two-way struggle between
the Blues and Bruins.
Behind the Blues, the Blackhawks and Avalanche are waging a fierce
battle for home ice in what will likely be another first-round
The Avalanche (107) hold a two point edge on the reigning Stanley
Cup champions (105) and have a game in hand.
The battle for top spot in the Pacific Division is also likely to go
down to the wire with the Ducks (108) holding a one-point advantage
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto;
editing by Frank Pingue)