Playoff push sets up wild finish to regular season

Mon Apr 7, 2014 5:03pm EDT
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(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 Phoenix Coyotes.

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.   Continued...

Apr 5, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic (17) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the second period against the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Banknorth Garden. Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports