The San Jose Sharks' 4-3 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night brought that series to an end. The Sharks are moving on, leaving only one piece of the Western Conference puzzle missing for the second round of the 2011 NHL playoffs -- a winner in the Vancouver Canucks/Chicago Blackhawks series.
Game 7 between the Canucks and Blackhawks is set to take place Tuesday night at 10 p.m. (ET), so by early Wednesday morning the second round matchups for the West will be set. This means the Detroit Red Wings will finally find out their opponent for the next round of the playoffs. They have been waiting ever since sweeping the Phoenix Coyotes last Wednesday, and now only two possible opponents remain: San Jose and Nashville.
Which team Detroit will play next all depends on what happens on Tuesday night in the Canucks/Blackhawks game. If Vancouver averts a complete meltdown and wins the game and the series, the Red Wings would have to pack for San Jose to play the Sharks, which are going to have home-ice advantage no matter what happens. The Red Wings would be the third-highest seed left if Vancouver wins, forcing them to start the second round on the road in a rematch from last year's playoffs.
If the Canucks continue this trend of choking under pressure and lose to Chicago, San Jose would become the team with the highest seed in the second round. The Sharks would play the Blackhawks, whereas the Red Wings would get home-ice advantage and play the division rival Predators in Nashville's first ever series in the second round.