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NHL Death Watch: Flames, Avalanche see playoff hopes crumble in shutout losses

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Brent Sutter, either smiling or frowning (Getty)

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

It was a quiet day in the Eastern Conference, with only one game on the schedule and very little in the way of implications for teams on the playoff bubble.

The West, however, saw changes aplenty as the Dallas Stars took over top spot in the Pacific for the night with a win, the Sharks tumbled to 8th with a loss, and both the Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames saw their slim hopes grow ever slimmer after being shut out versus Vancouver and Los Angeles, respectively.

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The disappointment was clearest for the Calgary Flames, whose goalless defeat came on home ice, much to the chagrin of team, fans, and media. From the Calgary Herald:

Frustrations on all sides boiled over in the final minute of Wednesday's sobering fizzle against the L.A. Kings when an irked fan tossed his Calgary Flames' jersey onto the ice in disgust. Tom Kostopoulos tossing it back. Apparently something of a derogatory nature was uttered by said patron, and Kostopoulos — who declined comment afterwards — noisily slammed his stick on the glass.

The particulars are still hazy.

Yes, it was that kind of night. Ill-tempered. Sour. Disheartening. And so, so damaging.

On the bright side, the team isn't mathematically eliminated. Just basically.

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 (6) 3rd/89/31 -- 98.7 0 1
New Jersey Devils (5) 6th/92/31 -- 100 11 1
Ottawa Senators (5) 7th/88/34 -- 95.9 69 15
Buffalo Sabres (5) 8th/86/31 -- 68.1 14 54
Washington Capitals (5) 9th/84/36 9 37.1 6 28
Winnipeg Jets (5) 10th/78/31 3 0.1 0 0
Tampa Bay Lightning (6) 11th/77/32 4 0.2 0 0
Carolina Hurricanes (5) 12th/77/31 2 0.0 0 0
New York Islanders (6)
13th/75/25 2 0.0 0 0

With only one Eastern Conference game Wednesday, there isn't much change to the picture. The Winnipeg Jets' 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers caused their chance of making the playoffs to drop 0.4%, for instance. Not really compelling stuff there.

That said, it made a major difference for the Rangers, who extended their Conference and Division leads over the Pittsburgh Penguins to 5 points. With Pittsburgh on Long Island Thursday for the second part of a home-and-home, a loss could make their chase for 1st a near impossibility.

Here's the Western Conference race:

Team (Games Remaining) Place/ Pts/ROW Tragic # % Chance of Playoffs % Chance of 7th % Chance of 8th
Dallas Stars (5) 3rd/89/35 -- 82.6 27 21
Nashville Predators (5) 5th/96/40 -- 100 0 0
Chicago Blackhawks (5) 6th/93/37 -- 100 2 0
Los Angeles Kings (5) 7th/88/32 -- 81.2 28 20
San Jose Sharks (5) 8th/88/31 -- 64.2 20 22
Phoenix Coyotes (5) 9th/87/31 10 62.2 22 19
Colorado Avalanche (3) 10th/86/31 5 3.5 0 3
Calgary Flames (4) 11th/85/32 6 4.7 1 4

Let's start at the bottom, where both the Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames are in some serious trouble.

Heading into Wednesday night's action, the Avalanche knew they would likely need to run the table to make the postseason, especially having fewer games remaining on the schedule than the teams they're attempting to leapfrog. Unfortunately, a table runner they are not (and not just because their colours clash with most tablecloths): a 1-0 loss to the Vancouver Canucks leaves them with no mathematical chance of 7th and only a 3% chance of 8th.

The Flames were shut out as well, falling 3-0 to the Los Angeles Kings, and leaving them with only a 4.7% chance of making the dance.

The Stars finished the night atop the Pacific after a 3-1 win in Edmonton. It seems likely we'll see them in the postseason, as the win increased their chances of playing into April by 13.8%.

The Sharks did themselves a disservice with another spotty outing versus Anaheim. Their 3-1 loss means both Dallas and Los Angeles have a higher probability of winning the division, and it lowered the Sharks' chances of making the playoffs altogether by 12.2%. A loss in Phoenix Thursday would lower it another 16.5%.

Meanwhile, the Coyotes would finish the night with an 83.1% chance of making the postseason with a regulation win and a 36.8% chance with a regulation loss in that game. It's a big one.

The Kings' win versus Calgary increased their chances of a postseason berth by 19%. Those chances are bound to decrease with one of the Sharks and Coyotes bound to pick up points Thursday, although it's worth noting that they'll increase by 2% (2%!!) if the Coyotes win in regulation.

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