NHL Playoff Watch: Dallas Stars improve postseason chances; can Jets catch Caps?

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

Fare thee well, Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes, who were eliminated from postseason contention on Thursday night …

While the Columbus Blue Jackets became the darlings of the Western Conference bubble, the Dallas Stars were hanging tough. They greatly increased their chances in the playoff push with a 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

The Stars are on a 6-1-0 roll and now have a healthy – well, as healthy has he can be – Kari Lehtonen between the pipes after a 3-game absence.

The Stars’ young players have stepped up, and the opportunity is there for them to make the playoffs: They trail the Blue Jackets by two points (49-47) for the No. 8 seed with two games in-hand. They’re tied with the Red Wings at 47 points, have the non-shootout win tie-breaker (20-18) and face Detroit in the season finale.

They can move into the No. 8 seed with a win over the Blues on Friday night.

After dealing Jaromir Jagr, Brenden Morrow and Derek Roy, the Stars looked like they had raised the white flag on the season. Too bad no one told the Dallas Stars about that.

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.

Team (Games Remaining) Place/Pts/ROW Tragic # % Chance of Playoffs % Chance of 7th % Chance of 8th
Ottawa Senators (5) 6th/52/19 - 98.9 19 8
New York Islanders (4) 7th/51/20 - 91.6 36 29
New York Rangers (5) 8th/48/18 - 83.5 27 42
Winnipeg Jets (4) 9th/48/21 8 39.4 3 14
Buffalo Sabres (4) 10th/44/13 4 0.3 0 0
New Jersey Devils (5) 11th/42/14 3 0.2 0 0
Philadelphia Flyers (4) 12th/41/18 2 0.0 - 0

Are the Washington Capitals in trouble, suddenly?

The Jets have crept within two points of the Southeast Division lead, both with four games remaining – including Tuesday night’s showdown in Washington, D.C. The Jets could enter that game with the division lead: They have games against the New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres before Tuesday, while the Caps visit the Montreal Canadiens.

The Rangers thumped the Florida Panthers to stay in the No. 8 seed, with a game in-hand on the Jets and the teams tied in points.

The Rangers play the Sabres on Friday night, with a chance to eliminate Buffalo … or keep the door open for the teams chasing the final playoff seed.

Team (Games Remaining) Place/Pts/ROW Tragic # % Chance of Playoffs % Chance of 7th % Chance of 8th
St. Louis Blues (5) 6th/52/20 - 99.4 14 3
Minnesota Wild (4) 7th/51/20 - 95.9 50 13
Columbus Blue Jackets (3) 8th/49/16 - 21.2 2 19
Dallas Stars (5) 9th/47/20 10 41.2 8 32
Detroit Red Wings (5) 10th/47/18 10 40.3 9 29
Phoenix Coyotes (6) 11th/43/15 8 1.9 0 2
Edmonton Oilers (6) 12th/39/14 4 0.0 0 0

The Blues leapfrogged over the Wild back into the No. 6 seed, and have a game in-hand. St. Louis and Dallas play a critical game on Friday night.

The Blue Jackets played their fifth game in seven nights, and couldn’t earn a point in Los Angeles. They have three games remaining; which is to say they don’t control their own destiny.