The end of the NHL season is nearly here and a few teams are on the cusp of losing their playoff spot. These clubs include a couple of New York-based teams (Islanders and Rangers) in the Eastern Conference and the St. Louis Blues and the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Western Conference.
The Islanders are going to have to protect their slight point lead and their sixth seed over the course of four road games. Luckily, the Islanders have thrived on the road (and conversely struggled at home). So, winning two out of four against the Winnipeg Jets, Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers, and the Buffalo Sabres should not be too difficult.
The Rangers were not supposed to have nearly as difficult a season in 2013. They were supposed to be fighting for one of the top spots in the Atlantic Division. They were certainly not supposed to be hoping to hold on to the eighth seed. They cannot even blame this on injuries or a struggling netminder. Instead, the addition of Rick Nash has not made the offense any more potent (they may be even less!). Still, four of the final five games should be easy wins.
The Blues seem to be pretty set in the seventh spot. They only have a three point lead over the first team out of the postseason, but they have five games remaining when most other clubs have four. Also, with three games left against Western Conference bottom feeders (two against the Avalanche and one against the Flames) St. Louis should have little issue getting into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Blue Jackets have overtaken the Red Wings for the eighth seed, but they play one less game than a now very desperate and talented Detroit hockey team. Unlike the other teams mentioned, Columbus has a difficult schedule ahead. They have to play Anaheim and Los Angeles, two strong playoff teams, and Dallas, a club with a winning record and an outside shot of taking the B. Jackets playoff spot.
Of course, plenty of other teams are working hard to improve their seeding, so NHL tickets should be very popular throughout the United States and Canada.