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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 next 48 hours could determine plenty in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

At the bottom the bracket, the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes, separated by three points, both play tonight: The Sabres with a tough road game at the Washington Capitals minus Ryan Miller(notes), and the Hurricanes on the road to face the New York Islanders, whom they've beaten three times this season.

On Sunday, the Hurricanes and Sabres meet in Raleigh. We could see a new No. 8 seed. Or we could see the Hurricanes suddenly a country mile from the Sabres.

The X-Factor in all of this in the New York Rangers, losers of two consecutive games and playing Sunday afternoon against a Philadelphia Flyers team trying to hang on to the conference lead. The Capitals can overtake the Flyers tonight with a win, but the Flyers will still have a game in-hand and a lead in non-shootout victories.

In the West, the Nashville Predators can close to within two points of Detroit for the division lead with a win over the Wings this afternoon (although Detroit will own a game in-hand). If Nashville and Los Angeles both lose and the Ducks beat the Sharks, Anaheim will suddenly be the No. 5 seed in the West. Yes, it's that tight.

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; the Tragic Number is from NHL Standings and Magic Numbers. The former is an industry standard; the latter is a site we discovered this week, and are hopeful that the figures are as accurate as those from NHL Playoff Race. Also: For the Percentage Chance of Making the Playoffs, we've included the figures from Hockey-Reference.com (HR), which is crunching its own numbers. It's listed with the percentage from Sports Club Stats (SCS).

Head here for an explanation of the Tragic Numbers.

Here's the playoff picture for the Eastern Conference:

Team (Games) Place/Record/Pts. Tragic # % Chance of Playoffs % Chance of 7th % Chance of 8th
Montreal Canadiens

(78)

6th/41-30-7/89 -- 97.9 (SCS)

95.7 (HR)

24 10
Buffalo Sabres

(77)

7th/39-29-9/87 -- 87.3 (SCS)

85.8 (HR)

39 24
New York Rangers

(78)

8th/41-32-5/87 -- 83.5 (SCS)

87.1 (HR)

28 46
Carolina Hurricanes

(77)

9th/37-30-10/84 8 30.3 (SCS)

29.6 (HR)

9 19
Toronto Maple Leafs

(78)

10th/36-32-10/82 4 0.9 (SCS)

01.8 (HR)

0 1
Atlanta Thrashers

(77)

11th/33- 32-12/78 1 0.0 (SCS)

0.0 (HR)

0 0
New Jersey Devils

(77)

12th/36-36-5/77 1 0.0 (SCS)

0.0 (HR)

0 0

As you can see, if the Thrashers or Devils fail to gain two points today, they will be eliminated. Otherwise, the Rangers can eliminate them both with a point against the Flyers on Sunday.

Here's the Western Conference:

Team (Games) Place/Record/Pts. Tragic # % Chance of Playoffs % Chance of 7th % Chance of 8th
Phoenix Coyotes

(79)

4th/42-25-12/96 -- 98.9 (SCS)

98.7 (HR)

22 17
Los Angeles Kings

(77)

5th/44-27-6/94 -- 97.1 (SCS)

98.4 (HR)

14 13
Nashville Predators

(78)

6th/42-26-10/94 -- 97.6 (SCS)

96.8 (HR)

19 14
Anaheim Ducks

(77)

7th/44-28-5/93 -- 94.4 (SCS)

95.7 (HR)

20 21
Chicago Blackhawks

(77)

8th/42-27-8/92 -- 93.9 (SCS)

93.6 (HR)

21 24
Calgary Flames

(79)

9th/39-29-11/89 3 0.8 (SCS)

1.9 (HR)

0 1
Dallas Stars

(76)

10th/38-27-11/87 8 17.3 (SCS)

14.9 (HR)

4 11
Minnesota Wild

(77)

11th/37-32-8/82 1 0.0 (SCS)

0.0 (HR)

0 0

The Wild are officially eliminated if they fail to get two points against Tampa Bay.

Phoenix doesn't play again until Wednesday against the Kings. Awwwkward.

A win by LA today increases their chances to 99.5 percent to make the playoffs. Conversely, a loss by Dallas drops their chances to 7.4 percent.

To better understand how tight the West is, consider the Ducks. They have an 18-percent chance at fourth, a 16-percent chance at fifth, an 18-percent chance at sixth, a 20-percent chance at seventh and a 21-percent chance at eighth.

And, of course, a 5-percent chance at ninth …

If the playoffs started today, they'd look like this.

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