NHL Playoff Death Watch: Chicago Blackhawks, wild card team?

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 big developments on the playoff bubble on Saturday.

In the East, the Boston Bruins snuck ahead of the Ottawa Senators thanks to their regulation win over the Rangers and the Senators’ embarrassing overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, blowing a third-period lead.

Boston (87 points) is at Carolina on Sunday; Ottawa (86 points) hosts the Florida Panthers, whose season is on the line in the next two games. The Panthers have 83 points and visit the Sens and Boston. Ottawa has a game in-hand on both teams.

The Capitals’ loss to the Predators left them with 90 points and seven games left. That’s four in front of the Senators, who have a game with the Caps on the schedule and a game in-hand. But the Caps have the ROW tiebreaker, 36-32.

Over in the West, the Minnesota Wild moved into third place in the Central, as the Chicago Blackhawks dropped to the first wild card. It’s likely a temporary inconvenience for the Hawks, who have two games in-hand on the Wild. But Minnesota has a significant ROW advantage (40-35) and a game against Chicago left on the schedule.

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:

The Capitals face the Rangers on Sunday, with both teams looking for a bounce back from disappointing Saturdays.

Pittsburgh hosts the San Jose Sharks while the Islanders host the Red Wings. The teams are tied with 93 points for second in the Metro, with Pittsburgh holding he tie-breaker and a game in-hand.

The Devils can be eliminated on Sunday with a combination of one point lost vs. Anaheim or gained by the Bruins. 

Meanwhile, in the West …

Newly minted bubble team Chicago travels to play their wild card mates the Winnipeg Jets.

The Calgary Flames have a chance to leap back over the Kings into third place with a win over Nashville. The Kings would have a game in-hand; the two teams meet in the second-to-last game of the season.

In the President’s Trophy race, the Ducks (103 points, 40 ROW) lead the Predators (102, 41) and Canadiens (102, 41); the Rangers (101, 43) are the other team over 100 points. 

If The Playoff Started Today

Potential Bracket Grade: C-plus. Yes, we get Montreal/Boston and the Yzerman Cup, but we don't get Chicago and St. Louis in Round 1 and we get the 10,000th edition of Caps/Rangers. 

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