NHL Playoff Death Watch: Huge chance for Bolts; Kings, Flyers face end

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

Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos won’t play in their game against the Dallas Stars on Sunday. Which means that there will be four more chances for him to play the returning hero this season, including Tuesday when the Bolts host the Boston Bruins.

First thing’s first: They trail Boston by four points and the Toronto Maple Leafs by five points, both of those teams having won on Saturday and the Lightning having lost in OT to the Montreal Canadiens. After Tampa plays the Bruins, they face Toronto. These head-to-head games at least give them a chance to rally for a playoff spot.

But beating Dallas on Sunday is a necessity.

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.

Here’s the Eastern Conference:

The Lightning have a 12-percent chance at the last wild card spot, according to Sports Club Stats. The Bruins are at 45 percent, while there’s now a 46-percent chance the Leafs earn home ice and finish second in the Atlantic. Wow!

As for the Ottawa Senators, who have lost two straight and are in a 2-5-3 tailspin, there’s still only a 5-percent chance they’ll miss the playoffs. For now.

The Columbus Blue Jackets had an 8-percent chance of winning the Metro, but that could change mightily if they beat the Washington Capitals on Sunday.

The Philadelphia Flyers can be eliminated with a regulation loss to the New York Rangers.

Speaking of potential eliminations…

Here’s the Western Conference:

The Los Angeles Kings are pretty much done today. If Nashville and St. Louis both earn a point against each other, they’re done. If they fail to get two points against Arizona, they’re done. If they beat Arizona and the Blues beat Nashville in regulation, the Kings delay the inevitable.

Big game for the Preds, if they want to jump up and take on a flailing Wild team rather than either the Central or Pacific champions. There’s a 51-percent chance they’ll finish in Wild Card No. 2 and face the Chicago Blackhawks.

Meanwhile, after losing an emotional game against the upstart Edmonton Oilers last night, and giving the Oil the top of the division, the Anaheim Ducks face the Calgary Flames twice. The Ducks have a 36-percent chance at finishing first, a 50-percent chance of taking second, a 12-percent chance of taking third and a 2-percent chance they’ll be in the first wild card.

Here’s the Money Puck take:

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.


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