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NHL Death Watch: Winnipeg faces Washington with Southeast title at stake

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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.

Two months ago, the idea that the Washington Capitals would be holding serve for the Southeast Division title seemed about as likely as Sergei Bobrovsky being the front-runner for the Vezina. And yet …

The Caps enter Tuesday night with 52 points and 22 ROW with three games remaining. Oh, but it’ll be an interesting night at the Phone Booth in D.C.: The Winnipeg Jets’ victory over the Buffalo Sabres gives them 51 points and 22 ROW with just two games left.

If the Capitals win in regulation or OT, they clinch the division title. Via Steve Whyno of the Washington Times:

If the Caps win in overtime, they will have 54 points to the Jets’ 52 and 23 regulation or overtime wins (ROW) to the Jets’ 22. Winnipeg can only get to 23 ROW, and so the tiebreaker would become points between the teams. Even throwing out one of the Caps’ victories in Winnipeg because of an uneven split of games, they’d have that advantage 6-3.

A Caps overtime or shootout loss would make for a tie at 53 points, though they would remain in first place because they have two games left while Winnipeg has one. Washington’s magic number to clinch would then be three points either gained or lost by Winnipeg.

If Winnipeg wins in regulation? Things get a little intriguing, given that the Capitals would be one point in back of Winnipeg but tied with Ottawa in points in the No. 8 seed – a Senators team they face on Thursday night.

Still, the Capitals have an 87-percent chance of grabbing the No. 3 seed.

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.

Team (Games Remaining) Place/Pts/ROW Tragic # % Chance of Playoffs % Chance of 7th % Chance of 8th
New York Islanders (3) 6th/53/20 - 95.8 33 21
New York Rangers (3) 7th/52/20 - 95.7 33 17
Ottawa Senators (3) 8th/52/19 - 85.5 27 43
Winnipeg Jets (2) 9th/51/22 3 31.6 3 15

Dan Rosen of NHL.com had the clinching scenarios for the Rangers and Islanders:

With Ottawa losing, NYR can potentially move up to 6th tomorrow and will clinch a playoff berth with a win and a Winnipeg regulation loss.

Isles can clinch a playoff berth tomorrow with a win and a Jets loss of any kind, or by getting a point and having the Jets lose in regulation.

So, potentially, the Rangers can face the Washington Capitals (again) in the first round if they manage the sixth seed and the Caps clinch the Southeast. We hate reruns …

Team (Games Remaining) Place/Pts/ROW Tragic # % Chance of Playoffs % Chance of 7th % Chance of 8th
St. Louis Blues (3) 6th/54/21 - 99.9 7 1
Minnesota Wild (3) 7th/51/20 - 85.0 49 23
Columbus Blue Jackets (2) 8th/51/17 - 39.8 11 28
Detroit Red Wings (3) 9th/50/19 5 56.5 21 33
Dallas Stars (3) 10th/48/20 3 19.0 5 13
Phoenix Coyotes (3) 11th/46/15 1 0.0 - 0

Huge win for the Red Wings last night over the Coyotes, who are clinging to their playoff lives. The Wings finish with the Kings and Predators at home, and then a trip to face the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.

Dallas hosts the San Jose Sharks, trailing the Wings by two points but knowing they have that head-to-head to end the season.

As for Columbus, Puck-Rakers spelled it out here before the Red Wings’ win last night. They need help, but it all starts with winning their final two games – including Thursday night at Dallas.

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