While the 8 Eastern Conference teams shuffle around to determine who will play who in the first round, the 8 teams that will be in the post-season are set. The same can not be said in the West. There are 2 playoff spots open and three teams battling for those places.
The Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets are separated by just a single point, with the Red Wings holding the upper hand, needing just a single point to clinch a playoff spot. Minnesota can clinch with a win while Columbus needs to get some help regardless of what happens, but a win would obviously be their best case scenario.
The Blue Jackets would be a great feel-good story as the underdog, and everyone likes the underdog when their team isn’t in the running. Like them or not, the Red Wings are riding a ridiculous 21 season playoff streak, and that would be an incredible feat to run it to 22 seasons.
I for one, would not mind seeing the team that spent $196M on two free agents last summer on the outside looking in when the playoff puck is dropped on Tuesday night. The way they tried to buy their team rubbed some fans of other teams (and other teams themselves) the wrong way.
And don’t forget, although he is injured at the moment, the Wild also employs Dany Heatley.