NHL Playoff Death Watch: Which teams can clinch tonight?

NHL Death Watch


NHL Death Watch

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

Huge night of action in the playoffs races on Saturday night, and there are a few teams that can end any uncertainty about their participation in the postseason.

* The Canadiens would clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Panthers in any fashion ORif the Rangers defeat the Bruins in any fashion OR if they get one point against the Panthers AND the Bruins defeat the Rangers in a shootout.
* The Ducks would clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Islanders in any fashion OR if they lose to the Islanders in overtime or a shootout.
* The Lightning would clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Red Wings in any fashionOR if they get one point against the Red Wings AND the Rangers defeat the Bruins in any fashion OR if the Rangers defeat the Bruins in regulation.
* The Predators would clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Capitals in any fashion.

The St. Louis Blues can clinch with a win over the Blue Jackets.

UPDATE: The NHL lists the Blues' magic number as two, but apparently it's three, as they can't clinch tonight. 

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:

We added the Penguins to the Death Watch. Not because there’s a chance they’ll miss the dance, but because there’s a chance they could tumble to the Wild Card. They host Arizona tonight.

The Ottawa Senators lick their wounds after a thumping by the Rangers and travel to that empty husk known as the Toronto Maple Leafs. They lead the Bruins … well, by a game in-hand at this point. The B’s host the already-clinched Rangers, with a returning Henrik Lundqvist.

The Panthers are hanging on and face the Canadiens at Bell Centre, with the Senators waiting for them on Sunday.

Meanwhile, in the West …

The Wild’s win over the Flames on Friday solidified their standing for the playoffs; tonight, they face the LA Kings with a chance to pass the Chicago Blackhawks for third in the Central – but Chicago will have two games in-hand.

(How hilarious would it be if the Blues finish first in the Central to avoid Chicago and then end up playing Chicago in the wild card matchup? D’oh.)

The best the Kings can do tonight is tie the Canucks in points tonight, as Vancouver has the ROW advantage. Vancouver hosts Dallas in a critical game before hitting the road for four tough games.

Both Winnipeg and Calgary are off tonight.

The President’s Trophy race has the Rangers leading with 101 points and 43 ROW; Anaheim is next at 101 and 39, and both Nashville and Montreal have 100 points and 40 ROW. St. Louis (99 and 37) and Tampa Bay (99 and 44) are right there too. 


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