One more team has made the leap into the 2011 NHL playoffs, as the Philadelphia Flyers officially joined the Vancouver Canucks as the only two teams officially in. Their shootout win over the Dallas Stars was enough to put them over the hump. As a vital Sunday slate of games gets underway, let's recap where we stand around the NHL playoff picture.
We'll stick with the East for now.
No. 1 Philadelphia Flyers (71 GP, 96 points)
No. 2 Washington can clinch with one more win. They're off until a huge game against the first place Flyers on Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
No. 3 Boston hasn't looked good in their last few games, and Saturday's 5-2 loss in Toronto was just more evidence of that. Still, the Bruins are in an enviable spot in the Eastern Conference, sitting in third instead of fifth thanks to leading the Montreal Canadiens by three points and one game.
Technically speaking, the Bruins need four wins to officially clinch a playoff spot, but losses by the Devils, Hurricanes and Maple Leafs will lower that number more quickly than a four-game winning streak can.
No. 4 Pittsburgh and No. 5 Tampa Bay all need three more wins to officially clinch.
No. 6 Montreal is pretty safe, sitting nine points ahead of Carolina in the ninth spot. Still, officially clinching isn't on the immediate horizon for them, as they need about six wins for that to happen.
ON THE BUBBLE
No. 7 New York Rangers and the No. 8 Buffalo Sabres are very much in doubt, still, as they're pressured by No. 9 Carolina and yes, still, No. 10 Toronto. The Hurricanes sit just two points back of Buffalo for the final playoff spot, although they have played an extra game. Toronto sits four points back while giving up two games in hand, while Atlanta sits six points back while giving up a game.
Despite losing in regulation on Friday, the Devils are still hanging around in 12th place with 70 points. With 10 games left, eight points to gain, and three teams to leap over, it doesn't look all that good right now.
BOOKIN' TEE TIMES
If the playoffs began today, here's how things would look in the East:
No. 1 Philadelphia Flyers vs. No. 8 Buffalo Sabres
No. 2 Washington Capitals vs. No. 7 New York Rangers
No. 3 Boston Bruins vs. No. 6 Montreal Canadiens
No. 4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay Lightning
Much of the data used comes via PlayoffStatus.com.