Breaking down the playoff math for the Vancouver Canucks and their potential round one opponent

Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Gould
10 days ago
Today is April 16th, 2024. No NHL games have happened yet on this fine Tuesday, and the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs get going in just four days.
Some teams have already played their final games of the season. For the Vancouver Canucks, there’s still two more to play, and while they might not matter all that much in the grand scheme of things, all of the games this week will determine who the Canucks match up against in the first round of the playoffs.
The Canucks currently occupy the top spot in the Pacific Division with a 49-22-9 record and 107 points through 80 games this season. However, they’re four points back of the Dallas Stars for first place in the Western Conference. If the season were to end today, the Canucks would enter the playoffs as the No. 2 seed.
Assuming the Canucks remain exactly where they are, they’re pretty much guaranteed to face the Nashville Predators in the first round — with a slight catch. Nashville’s season is over (they managed 99 points in 82 games), but the Vegas Golden Knights are four points back of them with two games to play.
Nashville has the regulation wins tiebreaker over Vegas no matter what, so the Knights will need to pick up all four of a possible four points to surpass the Predators for the first wild card spot. But here’s the thing: Vegas’ final two games are against the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks. Four points certainly isn’t out of the question.
And then there’s the possibility of Vegas catching up to the L.A. Kings. If Vegas and L.A. both win out, the Knights will finish one point up on the Kings (and slide into the third spot in the Pacific Division). But if the Knights only tie the Kings in points, they’ll finish in a wild card spot due to L.A. holding the regulation wins tiebreaker.
Then again, there’s also a slight chance that the Canucks catch up to Dallas. Vancouver, as mentioned, has 107 points in 80 games; Dallas has 111 in 81. If the Stars lose their season finale against the St. Louis Blues in regulation, the Canucks can steal the top spot in the Western Conference by winning their final two games in any fashion (they control the regulation wins tiebreaker over Dallas).
No, the situation isn’t nearly as complex as all the Eastern Conference wild card scenarios, but there still remain plenty of different permutations. Even if the Canucks beat the Calgary Flames and the Winnipeg Jets to finish the season, the Stars can clinch first in the West with a single point against the Blues.
The Kings are guaranteed to finish behind the Predators if they fall into a wild card spot because of the regulation and overtime wins (ROW) tiebreaker. Vegas is not. But once again, Vegas needs four out of a remaining four points to finish ahead of Nashville — that is, assuming that the Kings beat the Blackhawks in their final game. You still with us? (We won’t blame you if you’re not — an earlier version of this article fudged the math and omitted the Kings’ probabilities entirely).
In any case, the most likely Western Conference quarterfinal matchup remains Canucks vs. Predators — and that can become an inevitability with a Canucks loss and/or a Blackhawks win tonight.

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