NHL Playoff Death Watch: Ducks nearly roasted; Panthers slump at wrong time

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 Washington Capitals' 3-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild amounted to a must-win, falling in between conference bubble battles with the Winnipeg Jets (which they lost in overtime) and the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night (which they can't afford to lose).

Combined with the Florida Panthers only getting a point against the New York Islanders in a shootout loss, and the Caps are three points away from the Southeast Division lead (Florida has a game in-hand) and the current occupants of the No. 8 seed, holding a tie-breaker with Buffalo.

The Panthers are winless in their last three. From the Miami Herald:

"We would have liked to get that other point. It's heartbreaking," said defenseman Ed Jovanovski, whose stick save with 1:07 left likely saved an Islanders goal and kept the Panthers from losing outright.

"We need to get re-energized, and I think the road will be good for us. We're not happy about this. Two teams were completely out of it, but we have to realize the pride and the parity in this league is right there."

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.

Here's the playoff picture for the Eastern Conference bubble:

Team (Games Remaining) Place/Pts/ROW Tragic # % Chance of Playoffs % Chance of 7th % Chance of 8th
Florida Panthers (7) 3rd/87/31 -- 96.2 4 8
New Jersey Devils (6) 6th/90/31 -- 99.8 11 2
Ottawa Senators (6) 7th/86/33 -- 90.1 54 24
Washington Capitals (6) 8th/84/36 -- 68.6 18 34
Buffalo Sabres (6) 9th/84/30 13 40.9 11 29
Winnipeg Jets (7) 10th/78/31 9 4.1 1 3
Tampa Bay Lightning (8) 11th/75/31 8 0.2 0 0
Carolina Hurricanes (6) 12th/75/30 4 0.0 0 0
Toronto Maple Leafs (6) 13th/75/29 4 0.0 0 0

Carolina and Toronto face each other on Tuesday night, while the Capitals play the Buffalo Sabres. So it's elimination time for either the Canes or Leafs.

The Devils' loss to the Penguins didn't dramatically affect their playoff chances, but Jersey is pretty well locked into the No. 6 seed now (86-percent chance). That means a date with the Southeast winner, which will either be the Panthers or the Capitals. (Winnipeg has a zero-percentage chance of finishing third).

Here's the Western Conference race:

Team (Games Remaining) Place/ Pts/ROW Tragic # % Chance of Playoffs % Chance of 7th % Chance of 8th
Dallas Stars (7) 3rd/87/34 -- 75.6 23 18
Chicago Blackhawks (6) 6th/92/37 -- 99.8 3 1
Phoenix Coyotes (5) 7th/87/31 -- 56.3 19 25
Los Angeles Kings (7) 8th/86/31 -- 71.4 23 18
San Jose Sharks (7) 9th/86/30 15 63.4 18 18
Colorado Avalanche (5) 10th/86/31 11 23.3 9 14
Calgary Flames (6) 11th/83/31 10 0.0 4 7
Anaheim Ducks (6) 12th/75/29 2 0.0 - -

The Minnesota Wild were eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday.

Following their loss to the Boston Bruins on Sunday, the Ducks' tragic number is two. If the Kings defeat the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night, the Coyotes will drop to the No. 8 seed with 87 points. If the Ducks ran the table and the Coyotes lost out, they'd be tied, but the Ducks would be ahead in wins. That's probably not going to happen. And there are a few teams the separate them, too.

The Flames, by the way, have a 53-percent chance of finishing No. 11.

Meanwhile, in the four/five series, there's only a 10-percent chance that Chicago finishes fifth. Looks like either the Detroit Red Wings or the Nashville Predators won't survive Round 1.