NHL Death Watch: Sharks take division lead; Maple Leafs face elimination

Greg Wyshynski

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

In the topsy-turvy crazy mixed-up world known as the Pacific Division, the San Jose Sharks are now the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference after being left for dead, oh, what, 10 days ago?

Said Coach Todd McLellan, after they defeated the Colorado Avalanche, 5-1, on Monday night:

"The fact that we got two points is the most significant thing. I don't think we can be worried about positioning right now. You can not play a game and drop three spots. It's nice to be ahead. When you're ahead you completely control your own destiny. When you're behind, you're hoping and waiting for help. You want to be in control of everything."

For the Avalanche, it was one of the most critical losses of the season, dropping their playoff probability down 11.2 percent. From the Denver Post:

The Avs remain 10th, tied with L.A. with 86 points, but have played a conference-most 78 games. They have just four remaining games, none against the teams between them and a playoff position.

"The game got away from us," Avs captain Milan Hejduk said. "Looks like we kind of have to go almost 4-0 and see what the other teams do. We'll try to do our part."

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 (7) 3rd/87/31 -- 96.1 3 9
New Jersey Devils (6) 6th/90/31 -- 99.8 16 2
Ottawa Senators (5) 7th/88/34 -- 96.4 61 17
Washington Capitals (6) 8th/84/36 -- 67.1 12 39
Buffalo Sabres (6) 9th/84/30 13 39.5 7 32
Winnipeg Jets (6) 10th/78/31 7 0.6 0 0
Tampa Bay Lightning (7) 11th/77/32 8 0.5 0 0
Carolina Hurricanes (6) 12th/75/30 4 0.0 0 0
Toronto Maple Leafs (6) 13th/75/29 4 0.0 0 0

Related NHL video on Yahoo! Sports:

It's potentially elimination night for either the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Carolina Hurricanes, who face each other in Toronto. If either loses in regulation, they're pretty much done, by virtue of the fact that the Buffalo Sabres and Washington Capitals (tied in points in the No. 8 seed) also face each other. As the Toronto Star notes:

The only hope for the loser of Tuesday night's Leafs-Canes tilt is that it go to overtime — and Buffalo beats Washington.

If the Capitals win (in regulation or overtime), they would hold an insurmountable lead in the first tiebreak (regulation or overtime wins). The loser of a Canes-Leafs overtime game could tie Washington on points, but lose out on the tiebreaker. Both the Leafs and Hurricanes could pass the Sabres in regulation and overtime wins.

The New Jersey Devils begin play on Tuesday night at home against the Chicago Blackhawks with a 2-point lead over the Ottawa Senators, playing their game in-hand. Ottawa's win over Winnipeg increased their chances for sixth place to 17-percent, but the Devils are still favored (80 percent).

The Florida Panthers are in Montreal for a huge game, knowing either the Sabres or Capitals will end the night with 86 points. They have a game in-hand on both.

Finally, at the top of the conference, the New York Rangers face what used to be the Minnesota Wild, trying to stay one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who face the Long Island Spoilers.

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
Chicago Blackhawks (6) 6th/92/37 -- 99.9 2 1
Dallas Stars (6) 7th/87/34 -- 65.6 23 21
Phoenix Coyotes (5) 8th/86/31 -- 61.7 23 24
Los Angeles Kings (6) 9th/86/31 12 62.2 22 19
Colorado Avalanche (4) 10th/86/31 8 12.1 4 9
Calgary Flames (5) 11th/85/32 9 19.4 7 12

According to Sports Club Stats and the NHL, the Anaheim Ducks have been eliminated from the playoff race. R.I.P. Bruce Boudreau miracle rally. Please come back, Teemu.

The Detroit Red Wings clinched a playoff spot last night, for a team record 21st straight season. They're OK.

The Kings' loss last night dropped their playoff probability by 9.2 percent, as there's a 38 percent chance they miss the playoffs. Said Darryl Sutter via LA Kings Insider, on the Canucks' 1-0 win:

"I hate to be short, but the difference was, they scored one goal and we didn't score any. That's the difference. Other than that, I wouldn't say there was a whole lot of difference. I wouldn't say they're trying to do something different than we are.''

The Kings have a game against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night, whose victory on Monday closed the gap to the No. 8 seed to two points with five games remaining.

Darryl Sutter, in Calgary, with a chance to land a crippling blow to the Flames.

Thanks, hockey.

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