The 2016-17 NHL regular season comes to an end on Sunday and NBCSN will have you covered with Push for the Playoffs — the Final Night, proving live look-in coverage across the slate of games that have playoff implications. There will also be analysis and a look-ahead to the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the playoff picture becomes clearer.
Coverage starts at 7 p.m. ET and will continue throughout the night. You can watch it on NBCSN or via our Live Stream.
Heading into Sunday, we already know quite a bit.
- We know the 16 teams that will be playing in the playoffs.
- We know several first-round matchups are already set: Pittsburgh vs. Columbus, Montreal vs. New York, Chicago vs. Nashville, and Minnesota vs. St. Louis.
- We know Calgary will play the winner of the Pacific Division and we know San Jose is locked into the third spot in the Pacific
That doesn’t mean there still isn’t a lot to be determined on Sunday, because four first-round matchups are still left to be decided.
Probably the biggest game on Sunday night takes place in Toronto where the Maple Leafs, fresh off of their dramatic clinching game on Saturday night that saw them score two late third period goals against the Pittsburgh Penguins, host the Columbus Blue Jackets.
It’s a huge game for Toronto because a win means they will jump ahead of the Boston Bruins in the Atlantic Division and get a first-round matchup with the Ottawa Senators. That also means entry into the Atlantic Division bracket in the playoffs. If they lose, that means they fall into the second wild card spot and get rewarded with a first-round matchup against the Washington Capitals. The Presidents’ Trophy winning Washington Capitals. The Capitals that are 11-1-1 in their past 13 games and have a chance to finish with the same record as a year ago if they can win on Sunday. Nothing against the Senators, but that is a massive difference when it comes to first-round opponents and potential playoff paths.
If the Maple Leafs beat Columbus, a team that has lost six in a row, eight out of 10, and has not beaten a playoff team in more than a month, Boston will stay in the second wild card spot and have to deal with the Capitals team that just beat them on Sunday.
In the Western Conference, the big domino to fall is in the Pacific Division where the Anaheim Ducks and Edmonton Oilers are still competing for the top spot.
If the Ducks can earn just a single point in their game against the Los Angeles Kings, they will win the Pacific and get a first-round matchup with the Calgary Flames. That will push Edmonton into a first-round meeting with the San Jose Sharks.
But if the Ducks lose to Los Angeles in regulation, and the Oilers are able to beat the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton would then move into the top spot, play Calgary, and force the Ducks into a first-round meeting with the Sharks.