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What the final week of NHL season means for Canucks as Vegas secures final West playoff spot

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Photo credit:© Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
1 month ago
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are near, and we’ve known for some time now that the Vancouver Canucks will be participating. They were the first Canadian team to clinch a spot mathematically, but their dominant start to the season made it quite clear that they’d make it to the dance in some capacity.
On Friday night, the Vegas Golden Knights officially clinched a playoff spot, becoming the last team in the NHL’s Western Conference to secure a spot in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
That means that if the playoffs started today, the playoffs would look like this in the West:
C1 Dallas Stars vs. WC2 Vegas Golden Knights
C2 Winnipeg Jets vs. C3 Colorado Avalanche
P1 Vancouver Canucks vs. WC1 Nashville Predators
P2 Edmonton Oilers vs. P3 Los Angeles Kings
But the playoffs don’t start today.
In fact, there is plenty that can happen from now and the end of the regular season, despite the fact that we’ll be watching playoff hockey this time next week.
Can the Canucks hold on to the top spot in the Pacific? 
The biggest question on every Canucks fans’ mind at the moment, and the reason that tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oilers carries so much weight.
The Canucks and Oilers got off to polar opposite starts to their seasons. The Oilers fired their coach, got some goaltending, and all of a sudden, what was once a 22-point gap in the Pacific Division standings has dwindled down to three. Edmonton lost in overtime to the Arizona Coyotes last night, which certainly helps the Canucks out. Heading into tonight’s game, the Canucks have 105 points and the Oilers have 102 points. The Oilers have a game in hand, meaning a win for the Canucks tonight is of the utmost importance if they want to avoid choking away the Pacific Division lead they’ve held all season.
The Canucks can’t clinch the Pacific tonight, and they also can’t lose their first place position. That being said, a regulation loss tonight would allow Edmonton to pass them by Monday with a win vs San Jose. A win of any kind tonight would give the Canucks a chance to clinch on Tuesday vs Calgary for what will be Vancouver’s final home game of the regular season.
So, yes, a win tonight against the Oilers is obviously very important.
If the Canucks pull it off and finish at the top of the Pacific Division, they’re most likely to face the Nashville Predators in round one. This is likely the most favourable matchup for the Canucks when you consider that the alternatives are the defending cup champion Vegas Golden Knights or the LA Kings — who have had the Canucks’ number all season long.
If the Canucks lose tonight to the Oilers, there’s a strong possibility they will finish second place in the Pacific Division. This likely means a first round matchup vs. the Kings, as they sit third in the division. While the Golden Knights could certainly still catch LA, the third-place Kings have a relatively easy schedule over the last few games as they play the basement-dwelling Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks.
Can Nashville stay in WC1?
The short answer is, yes, they should be able to.
Over the final week of the season, the Predators will face the Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets. As the Arizona Coyotes have shown in recent days, there are no guaranteed wins in the NHL, but those are two teams that the playoff-bound Predators should be able to take care of in order to secure the first wild card spot in the West.
If they don’t, there is a chance that Vegas or LA finishes in that spot.
What we do know is that the Canucks will be facing one of Vegas, Nashville, or LA in round one, and that finishing at the top of the Pacific Division is certainly going to be something they want to accomplish heading into the playoffs.
Remaining Games
The Canucks face Edmonton, Calgary, and then wrap up their season with a road game against the Jets on April 18th. As mentioned above, a win tonight would set the Canucks up to clinch the division at home on Tuesday vs. the Flames.
The Oilers face the Canucks, Sharks, and then wrap up their season with back-to-back road games against the Arizona Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
The Kings finish up their season at home with a matchup against the Ducks tonight, the Wild on Monday, and the Blackhawks on Thursday. Again, this schedule should mean that the Golden Knights won’t be able to catch the Kings for the final spot in the Pacific Division.
But anything can happen, especially since Vegas also faces some weaker opponents this week. After the Avalanche visit T-Mobile Arena tomorrow, the Blackhawks and Ducks are the final opponents Vegas needs to take care of. A slip up from LA and some wins from Vegas could mean they sneak into that third spot in the division after all.
Finally, the Predators will wrap up sooner than anyone, as they play game 81 at home tonight against the Blue Jackets, and game 82 on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday.
It will certainly be intriguing to watch how the Western Conference playoff matchups shake out now that we know exactly who’s made it in.
It all starts tonight for the Canucks when they take on the Oilers in Edmonton. Be sure to tune in to Rink Wide LIVE on YouTube with Jeff Paterson and Irfaan Gaffar moments after the final whistle. You can subscribe to the YouTube channel by clicking here.

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