Im pretty sure that Gary Bettman is paying off teams and refs just to get another wings - pens SCF, where all 7 games will be played in Pittsburgh and Fleury is given larger pads and a smaller net so that he might actually be able to win a game for them.
Even if it was true, nobody would admit that they're doing it. How would that sound coming from a coach saying they want to avoid a team? It's something for the conspiracy theorists to haggle over.
From a Wings' standpoint, I don't think they're trying to position themselves for a specific opponent...they're in the rare position of just fighting to get in and to hang onto a spot. The ability to "choose" their first round opponent is out of their hands. They just want to get in and then go from there. What we're seeing how is how good they can be when they're healthy...it's safe to say this team wouldn't be fighting to hang onto 8th place if they had all their pieces for the entire season.
The Sharks are afraid of facing anybody in round 1.
Who knows how high they can climb now? Sixth doesn't seem out of reach for these guys. The way things are going, I'd be looking to clear out of the top three spots in the West altogether if I could, so I applaud the Sharks for doing just that with this run of meek performances that includes last night's 5-1 loss to Edmonton.