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 Tampa Bay Lightning topped the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night, 5-3, moving the Bolts into second place in the Atlantic over Montreal. More importantly, it kept the Leafs stalled at 80 points with 11 games remaining.
They're in the first wild card spot, but they no longer control their own destiny over at least one team outside the bubble.
The Detroit Red Wings have three games in-hand against Toronto, including a “four-point swing” game against the Leafs on March 29. They’re the biggest threat to the Leafs missing the postseason; the Capitals, although they have one more point (76) than Detroit (75), don’t face the Leafs, have only one game in-hand and currently lose the regulation win tie-breaker.
So we’ve added Toronto to the Death Watch. Help us Jonathan Bernier, you’re our only hope!
Here are the current standings. The Death Watch tracks the final Wild Card spot and the teams that are chasing it. Their “tragic number” is the number of points gained by the final wild card team or lost by the team chasing it.
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 Eastern Conference picture:
Place/ Pts./ROW (Games Remaining)
% Chance 1st Wild Card
% Chance of 2nd Wild Card B
Toronto Maple Leafs
WILD CARD 1/80/27 (6H/5A)
Columbus Blue Jackets
WILD CARD 2/76/30 (7H/7A)
New Jersey Devils
The Capitals continue their Dustin Penner Reunion Tour with a game at the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night. Detroit faces the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are locked into the top seed in the Metro and trail Boston by five points for the conference lead.
Columbus has a critical game at Montreal, as they then return home to face the New York Rangers on Friday night.
The Devils host the Minnesota Wild, as Zach Parse has a chance to really damage their playoff hopes. The Ottawa Senators host the Lightning.
Meanwhile in the Western Conference:
Place/Record/Pts. (Games Remaining)
% Chance Wild Card A
% Chance of Wild Card B
WILD CARD/77/28 (7H/6A)
Vancouver kept its slim playoff hopes alive with last night’s shutout win over Nashville, who should probably just cash in its chips, walk away from the table and snag better lottery odds.
Phoenix hosts the Florida Panthers, while the Dallas Stars are in Philadelphia for a huge game against the Flyers. The Wild are, as we said, in New Jersey for Zach Parise Appreciation Night.
Edmonton plays Buffalo because someone has to.