Avalanche Paths to the Promised Land

No one in the Discord could believe it, but St. Louis choked away a third period lead to lose to Chicago in regulation at home tonight. Friends, Colorado’s route to the playoffs just got a lot more simple.

Los Angeles and Anaheim have clinched now. No need to worry about them, and they don’t play any more playoff race opponents.  We’re down to one race that actually matters… and they play in Game 82.

Colorado Avalanche vs. St. Louis Blues

Wild Card 2, in the playoffs, therefore Good Team: COL (93 points, 2 games remaining)

Wild Card 3, out of the playoffs, therefore Crap Team: STL (92 points, 2 games remaining)

Let’s look at the remaining scenarios, and what it will take the Avs to finish in a playoff position. Afterward, we’ll sum up what the Avs need to do to make it out of the regular season honestly for the first time in mumble years. (read: Skip to the conclusion if you’re in a hurry and trust me for some reason.) The NHL breaks ties using the following process:

  1. Regulation or Overtime Wins (ROW)
    • COL: 40
    • STL: 40
  2. Head-to-head points
    • STL: 4
    • COL: 2
      • This one is actually complicated. Since the teams play each other an odd number of times, per NHL.com, “points earned in the first game played in the city that had the extra game shall not be included,” which works in the Avs favor but not enough, sadly. The best Colorado can do is tie here and in no situation can that matter anymore. If Colorado wins in regulation on Saturday they’re in, period.
  3. Goal differential, but they can’t make it that far down the list.

Colorado defeat San Jose

Just win baby, right? isn’t that how it goes? Colorado would have a 3 point lead with 1 game to play. In this scenario, St. Louis must get at least a point against Chicago when they finish out the home-and-home on Friday, or they’re done and the Avs are in, Game 82’s a party.

If St. Louis were to win against the Blackhawks on Friday, how they win would suddenly matter a whole lot. If both teams win in regulation or overtime, whoever wins Game 82 would advance, period, despite Colorado’s 1-point advantage:
COL – 95 points, 41 ROW
STL – 94 points, 41 ROW

In this case, if St. Louis were to get an OT win, they would advance on ROW; with a shootout win, they would advance on the head-to-head tiebreaker.

If St. Louis get a ROW against Chicago but the Avs win in a shootout in San Jose, St. Louis would already hold the ROW tiebreaker.
COL – 95 points, 40 ROW
STL – 94 points, 41 ROW
In this case, St. Louis would go forward with any win. With an Avalanche OT or shootout loss, both teams would end with 96 points, and St. Louis would advance with 2 or 1 more ROW, respectively. But if, say, the opposite happened, COL get a ROW and STL get a shootout win:
COL – 95 points, 41 ROW
STL – 94 points, 40 ROW
Colorado could lose Saturday in a shootout and still make it in to the playoffs on ROW (both teams would end with 96 points). Any ROW for St. Louis against Colorado, and the Avs would be on the outside.

If St. Louis only get a single point on Friday, all Colorado would have to do after winning in San Jose is get a single point of their own against St. Louis. Here’s how this scenario looks:
COL – 95 points, 40/41 ROW
STL – 93 points, 40 ROW
However, if St. Louis were to win in regulation on Saturday in this case, they would advance. Both teams would end with 95 points, but St. Louis would either advance on ROW or on the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Colorado get one point in San Jose

This situation is workable, but it isn’t ideal.

If St. Louis wins in Chicago after Colorado gets a loserpoint in San Jose, the two teams would be tied at 94, and whoever wins Game 82, however they win, would make the playoffs outright on points.

If St. Louis were to also only pull one point out of Chicago, the two teams would have the same situation as above where they both win in regulation, except they would be tied at 94/40 instead of 95/41. Again, whoever wins, no matter how, advances.

St. Louis losing Friday with an Avalanche loser-point Thursday would not eliminate the Blues, but they would be forced to win Game 82 in regulation to make it in on ROW:
COL – 94 points, 40 ROW
STL – 92 points, 40 ROW

Colorado lose to San Jose in regulation

This scenario sucks and is bad, but hey, it’s the Avs on the road and it’s the Avs’ anemic offense lately. It’s not impossible.

St. Louis could leapfrog Colorado with a win on Friday in this situation:
STL – 93 points, 40/41 ROW
COL – 92 points, 40 ROW
So if St. Louis’s win over Chicago were in the shootout, Colorado could make it in with a regulation win or an overtime win, but not a shootout win because of the head-to-head tiebreaker. Any St. Louis ROW on Friday would require the Avalanche to win Game 82 in regulation due to the ROW tiebreaker.

If St. Louis were to get a single point, the two teams would tie at 92/40 and the winner of Game 82 would advance.

And finally, if both teams were to choke away their Games 81, they would stand on Saturday exactly where they stand today:
COL – 93 points, 40 ROW
STL – 92 points, 40 ROW
and the winner would advance, as even a St. Louis shootout win brings us to the head-to-head tiebreaker which St. Louis would have.

So what do the Avs need to do to make the playoffs?

No matter what else happens, if Colorado win Saturday in regulation, they’re in. They cannot clinch with a win against San Jose, but St. Louis could eliminate themselves if the Avs win Thursday and the Blues lose in regulation Friday. That’s a fair amount of pressure to put on a team suddenly and I am strongly in favor. If the Avs choose only 1 game to win, they need to make it Saturday, but a win Thursday would heavily limit St. Louis’s options.

Failing a regulation win Saturday, they can get in some other ways too. This is the full list. If you skipped, I showed my work above. If an outcome doesn’t make any sense feel free to check it.

  • Regulation or overtime win vs. San Jose AND any of…
    • St. Louis regulation loss on Friday.
    • Any Colorado win on Saturday.
    • St. Louis shootout win on Friday AND Colorado does not lose in regulation or overtime Saturday (shootout is okay).
    • St. Louis OT/SO loss on Friday AND Colorado gets a point on Saturday.
  • Shootout win vs. San Jose AND any Colorado win on Saturday.
  • OT/SO loss vs. San Jose AND any of…
    • St. Louis regulation loss on Friday AND Colorado gets a point on Saturday.
    • St. Louis OT/SO loss on Friday AND any Colorado win on Saturday.
  • Regulation loss vs. San Jose AND any of…
    • Colorado regulation win on Saturday.
    • St. Louis SO win on Friday AND Colorado win on Saturday before a shootout.
    • any St. Louis loss on Friday AND any Colorado win on Saturday.

Are you done finally? Is that the end?

That’s the end. Win in regulation on Saturday, and you’re in. Also if you win on Thursday in San Jose, that makes things a lot easier.

Steph

host of the burgundy radio podcast. purveyor of movie thoughts. sometimes i draw shitty webcomics.

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