NHL Death Watch: Dallas playoff window nearly shut; Sabres stay alive; Panthers in peril?

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Since we're down to the final moments of postseason life for teams in contention, Puck Daddy solemnly begins a daily countdown to annihilation.

The Dallas Stars entered last night's game against the San Jose Sharks with a 46.8-percent chance of making the Western Conference playoff cut, according to Sports Club Stats' metrics.

Following their humbling 5-2 loss, that probability is down to 8.8 percent.

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There are still a few paths to the postseason for the Stars, but they require some generosity from others. The primary one: That the Sharks or the Los Angeles Kings sweep the other in their 2-game season-ending series.

If that happens and the Stars win their games at the Nashville Predators and at home against the St. Louis Blues, Dallas will make the playoffs.

But Jean-Jacques Taylor of ESPN Dallas says you can stuff your mathematic chances for survival in a sack, mister. The Stars are done:

Hey, we can talk about the mathematic probability of the Stars getting into the playoffs all night long, but it ain't happening.

No chance. No way.  All you have to do is look in that locker room after the game. Their faces told the story.  The season is done.

One player leaned forward, rocking gently, his hands in his head. Another, across the room, leaned back with his eyes closed in utter dejection. A third slumped, staring straight ahead.

"I didn't say anything to them," Gulutzen said. "Emotions are high. Everyone is upset. Everyone is vested. We'll talk about it tomorrow and move forward.  "Now, we need help, but it's business as usual. That's the only way we can look at it."

Coming up, the playoff pictures for the East and West, as we shift the focus to playoff seeding. The full NHL standings and schedules can be found on Y! Sports.

All playoff percentages are from Sports Club Stats; tragic numbers and other figures via the NHL. A team is eliminated from play-offs when their "Tragic Number" hits 0.

Here's the playoff picture for the Eastern Conference bubble:

Team (Games Remaining) Place/Pts/ROW Tragic # % Chance of Playoffs % Chance of 7th % Chance of 8th
Florida Panthers (2) 3rd/92/31 -- 99.5 -- 4
Washington Capitals (2) 8th/88/36 -- 72.2 2 65
Buffalo Sabres (2) 9th/88/32 4 28.2 -- 28

Well, Thursday night's game between the Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals just got a hell of a lot more interesting.

The Panthers' OT loss to the Winnipeg Jets left them one point away from clinching the Southeast Division title. It also left them vulnerable to missing the playoffs entirely: If the Panthers lose to the Capitals and the Carolina Hurricanes, the Capitals defeat the New York Rangers, and the Buffalo Sabres somehow pull victories out of road games in Philadelphia and Boston, then the three teams will be tied with 92 points.

The Capitals and Sabres will both have more non-shootout wins than Florida. The Panthers would be out.

But again, the Panthers just need a point. Which means just getting to overtime, even if they end up losing. Which is something they're pretty good at doing, with an incredible 18 OT losses this season.

The Sabres' OT victory means they're still alive for the playoffs, but Thursday could very well sew this thing up if Buffalo falls in Philadelphia, where they previously lost 7-2 this season.

With their loss to Carolina, the Ottawa Senators could still fall to the No. 8 seed, but they're still a playoff team.

The New Jersey Devils can do no worse than the No. 6 seed after their win over the Islanders, but still have a shot to move up to the No. 5 seed with two wins and two Flyers losses. Why they'd want the Penguins in Round 1 is anyone's guess.

The Penguins will attempt to clinch the No. 4 seed on Thursday night. The Rangers are locked in at No. 1.

Here's the Western Conference race:

Team (Games Remaining) Place/ Pts/ROW Tragic # % Chance of Playoffs % Chance of 7th % Chance of 8th
Los Angeles Kings (2) 3rd/93/34 -- 98.4 21 19
Phoenix Coyotes (2) 7th/93/34 -- 98.2 60 13
San Jose Sharks (2) 8th/92/33 -- 91.8 18 58
Dallas Stars (2) 9th/89/35 6 8.8 1 8
Colorado Avalanche (2) 10th/88/32 3 2.8 0 3

The enormity of the Sharks' victory against the Stars can't be stressed enough. They now control their own destiny: One win and they're in.

The Stars, meanwhile, are facing this reality, via Blackout Dallas:

First and foremost, the Stars must win out and beat both Nashville and St. Louis, plain and simple. One loss and they're done. Second, the Stars must now hope for either the Sharks or the Kings to sweep the upcoming home and home series against each other. To put it into numbers: Stars must go 2-0 and Kings must go 0-2, or alternatively Sharks must go at the least 0-1-1. The other scenario is that the Coyotes go 0-2 while, of course, the Stars go 2-0. Like I mentioned, it'll take a miracle. Thankfully the Stars will hold that ROW tiebreaker over any team in the division if they lose out, giving the Stars that last gasp of air that could get them in.

Both the Stars and Avalanche face elimination on Thursday.

The Coyotes haven't clinched yet but just need a point earned or a point lost by the Stars to do so. They finish at the St. Louis Blues and at the Minnesota Wild.

Tonight, the Detroit Red Wings will attempt to leapfrog over the Predators back into the No. 4 seed against the Blues, which is their game in-hand.

The Canucks, meanwhile, moved three points ahead of St. Louis for the conference lead. The Blues' game against Detroit is their game in-hand as well.

If The Playoffs Started Today:

NY Rangers (1) vs. Washington (8)
Boston (2) vs. Ottawa (7)
Florida (3) vs. New Jersey (6)
Pittsburgh (4) vs. Philadelphia (5)

Vancouver (1) vs. San Jose (8)
St. Louis (2) vs. Phoenix (7)
Los Angeles (3) vs. Chicago (6)
Nashville (4) vs. Detroit (5)

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