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NHL Death Watch: Maple Leafs eliminated; Sabres surge; and is Nashville in trouble?

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

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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.

Congratulations to all of the Toronto-based reporters, headline writers and bloggers that resisted using the "Hurricanes blow away Leafs' season" theme in writing about the demise of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The urge must have been palpable, like the siren's song of meth.

Yes, the parade has been cancelled. Again. The Leafs heard the boo birds singing at the ACC last night in a 3-0 exercise in tedium against the Carolina Hurricanes, who survived elimination while putting the Burkie Bunch out of theirs. Said Tie Domi on what needs to happen in Toronto: "Stop saying it's the GM. Stop saying it's the coach. Step up, core guys. Figure it out."

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Meanwhile, across the border, it was party time in Buffalo last night for Sabres fans watching their team dominate the Capitals in Washington, 5-1, to increase their playoff probability by over 20 percent according to Sports Club Stats. The Sabres control their own destiny; the Capitals need help, as they fell two behind the Sabres and five points behind the Florida Panthers for the division lead.

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 -- 95.8 69 15
Buffalo Sabres (5) 8th/86/31 -- 67.6 14 53
Washington Capitals (5) 9th/84/36 9 37.0 6 28
Winnipeg Jets (6) 10th/78/31 5 0.7 0 1
Tampa Bay Lightning (6) 11th/77/32 4 0.5 - 0
Carolina Hurricanes (6) 12th/77/31 2 0.0 - 0
New York Islanders (6)
14th/75/25 2 0.0 - 0

Yes, the Islanders. Who knew?

Mathematically, the Isles are still alive, which no doubt fueled their upset win over the Pittsburgh Penguins last night. The tragic number is two. But hey, at least they're not the Leafs.

Florida's comeback shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens last night was enormous. They have a 94-percent chance of taking third in the conference, with four of their last six games against non-playoff teams (five if you discount the Capitals).

The Devils, meanwhile, solidified their hold on the No. 6 seed, although Ottawa just needs to be within two points by their end-of-season battle in New Jersey because the Senators hold the tie-breaker in non-shootout wins.

Here's the Western Conference race:

Team (Games Remaining) Place/ Pts/ROW Tragic # % Chance of Playoffs % Chance of 7th % Chance of 8th
San Jose Sharks (6) 3rd/88/31 -- 79.1 20 15
Nashville Predators (5) 5th/96/40 -- 100 0 0
Chicago Blackhawks (5) 6th/93/37 -- 100 2 1
Dallas Stars (6) 7th/87/34 -- 65.6 23 21
Phoenix Coyotes (5) 8th/87/31 -- 61.5 23 24
Los Angeles Kings (6) 9th/86/31 12 62.2 22 19
Colorado Avalanche (4) 10th/86/31 8 12.2 4 9
Calgary Flames (5) 11th/85/32 9 19.4 7 12

Let's talk about the Nashville Predators for a second.

The Preds are making their first appearance in the Death Watch because, well, there's still a mathematical chance they can miss the playoffs. It would take a series of spooky coincidences that would rival a Twilight Zone marathon, but it could still happen.

More to the point, however: The Blackhawks have a game left with the Preds and could leapfrog them into the No. 5 seed in the West, earning a first-round matchup with the Detroit Red Wings. That would mean Nashville would play the winner of the Pacific. Not sure who gets the better of that swap.

The Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames face off tonight, as Darryl Sutter's team looks to land a significant blow to the Flames' flickering postseason chances. With a win in regulation, Calgary's playoff probability leaps to 33.1 percent. With a loss in regulation, it's down to 5.2 percent.

The Avalanche have four games remaining and would see their probability drop to 4.6 percent with a loss at Vancouver. San Jose, meanwhile, could increase theirs to 87.7 percent with a regulation win over the Anaheim Ducks.

A word about the St. Louis Blues: Last night's win dropped their magic number for clinching the President's Trophy to 11, as in any combination of Blues wins and Rangers losses.

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