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

It's April 8, and the Carolina Hurricanes control their own playoff destiny.

That was a foreign concept as late as last week, when it appeared the Buffalo Sabres and the New York Rangers were applying cement to their status as Eastern Conference playoff teams. The Sabres remain three points ahead of Carolina with both teams having played 80 games … but the Hurricanes can eliminate the Rangers, after the Blueshirts responded to playoff pressure and the loss of heart-and-soul forward Ryan Callahan(notes) with a stink-bomb against the Atlanta Thrashers.

From Josh Alper at NBC New York:

No one stepped up to take Callahan's place providing speed and puck control, with the ever disappointing Marian Gaborik(notes) providing nothing but a poor play to set up the final Thrashers goal when the Rangers desperately needed something positive from him.

So the door is open for the Hurricanes with the only saving grace being that they might not be good enough to actually walk through it. Still, all the Rangers can do is beat the Devils on Saturday and then hope that things break their way.

Carolina is in Atlanta tonight to take on the Thrashers, and their website has a handy guide to the different playoff scenarios for the Canes:

Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars simply refuse to go away in the Western Conference, beating Colorado to move two points in back of the Ducks and the Blackhawks. They need two wins of their own and help from other Western Conference rivals, but it's not impossible that the Stars could be our No. 8 seed in the West.

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; the Tragic Number is from NHL Standings and Magic Numbers. The former is an industry standard; the latter is a site we discovered this week, and are hopeful that the figures are as accurate as those from NHL Playoff Race. Also: For the Percentage Chance of Making the Playoffs, we've included the figures from Hockey-Reference.com (HR), which is crunching its own numbers. It's listed with the percentage from Sports Club Stats (SCS).

Head here for an explanation of the Tragic Numbers.

Here's the playoff picture for the Eastern Conference:

Team (Games) Place/Record/Pts. Tragic # % Chance of Playoffs % Chance of 7th % Chance of 8th
Montreal Canadiens


6th/43-30-8/94 -- IN (SCS)

100 (HR)

17 --
Buffalo Sabres


7th/41-29-10/92 -- 97.5 (SCS)

97.1 (HR)

73 8
New York Rangers


8th/43-33-5/91 -- 65.5 (SCS)

89.1 (HR)

7 59
Carolina Hurricanes


9th/39-30-11/89 3 36.9 (SCS)

13.8 (HR)

3 34

Jonas Enroth gets the start tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers, with Ryan Miller still recovering from his injury. Buffalo would clinch a playoff berth with a win. (Ed. Note: Or, as has been pointed out, with a point.)

Here's the Western Conference:

Team (Games) Place/Record/Pts. Tragic # % Chance of Playoffs % Chance of 7th % Chance of 8th
Los Angeles Kings (80) 4th/46-28-6/98 -- IN (SCS)

100 (HR)

11 5
Nashville Predators


5th/43-26-11/97 -- 98.5 (SCS)

98.7 (HR)

10 5
Phoenix Coyotes (80) 6th/42-25-13/97 -- 97.6 (SCS)

97.1 (HR)

18 10
Anaheim Ducks


7th/45-30-5/95 -- 91.3 (SCS)

92.8 (HR)

31 29
Chicago Blackhawks


8th/43-28-9/95 -- 82.1 (SCS)

92.8 (HR)

23 29
Dallas Stars


9th/41-28-11/93 3 30.5 (SCS)

18.6 (HR)

7 22

The Stars could still hang tough in the West after tonight, or they could be out. From The Dallas Morning News:

"If you had told us at the start of training camp that we'd be going for a playoff spot now, I think there would be a lot of guys who would have taken that," captain Brenden Morrow(notes) said before the game. "We may need some help from some other teams, but before that we need to play our own games."

The Stars' task is simple. They must beat Colorado and Minnesota. And they must get help from others. For the Stars, the most likely second step is for Detroit to split its final two games against Chicago. In that scenario, the Stars would get into the playoffs through the second tie-breaker: winning the season series against Chicago. The Stars could pass Anaheim only if the Ducks lost both of their remaining games, against Los Angeles. Anaheim would win a tie with the Stars through the first tiebreaker: most regulation and overtime wins.

If Chicago beats Detroit tonight and the Stars lose at the Avs, the Blackhawks clinch a playoff spot. They can also clinch with a charity point and a Dallas loss.

If the playoffs started today, they'd look like this. The Bruins are at 82 percent to finish third and the Habs are at 83 percent to finish sixth. We can smell the bonfires already …

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