Trying to keep up with the NHL Western Conference playoff race is a pain.  After a few hours (my brain doesn’t work mathematically) I finally solved it.  Here’s what has to happen for the Blackhawks to get in the playoffs.

First off, I need to tell you about the ROW column in the standings.  That’s the tiebreaker when the season ends.  ROW stands for Regulation/Overtime Wins.  In English, that means the total number of wins for a team EXCLUDING shootout wins.  The NHL added this category this season to devalue a shootout win.

The Anaheim Ducks hold the 7th seed with two remaining games (vs LA and @ LA).  They have 95 points and 41 ROW.

The Blackhawks hold the 8th seed with two games remaining (@ Detroit and vs Detroit).  They have 95 points and 37 ROW.

The Dallas Stars hold the 9th seed with two games remaining (@ Colorado and @ Minnesota).  They have 93 points and 36 ROW.

The team with the most points wins the playoff seed.

Here’s the simplest way to break it down:

The Blackhawks magic point number is three.  Any combination of Hawks points gained and Stars points lost equaling three will get the Hawks in the playoffs.

For example, if the ‘Hawks win tonight in Detroit, and the Stars lose in overtime or a shootout…the Hawks would gain two points, and the Stars would lose one.  That makes three. ‘Hawks would be in.

If the ‘Hawks win and Dallas loses tonight, that’s two won for the Hawks and two lost for the Stars.  That makes four.  ‘Hawks would be in.

If the Stars should win their remaining two games in regulation, the Hawks need three points (win and at least an overtime or shootout loss) from Detroit.

The Hawks will miss the playoffs if the Stars win out in regulation or overtime, and the ‘Hawks only get two total points.  The Stars 97 points beat the Hawks 97 points.  Hawks would be out.

The Hawks can also get in if they simply take more points than the Ducks this weekend.  They both have 95 points, but the Hawks can’t catch them in ROW.  Both teams have four available points.  The Hawks just need one more point than the Ducks.

Make sense?  I hope so.