Saturday's Action Has Big Impact On 2011 NHL Playoff Picture

We don't know exactly what will happen, but we can safely say that the NHL playoff picture will change following Saturday's 11 games. Here's a look at all of those games that have serious playoff implications.

All times Eastern.

Atlanta at Boston (1 p.m.): With a win or even just one point via an OT or shootout loss, the Bruins will clinch the Northeast Division. A Boston win would also eliminate the slim playoff hopes of the Atlanta Thrashers, who have a tragic number of just one point heading into the game.

Lightning at Wild (2 p.m.): Minnesota's season is over, but the Bolts are still in a race for the fourth-seed in the East. Technically they also have a shot at the Southeast crown as well, but Washington has a firm grip on that and probably won't be letting go. A Tampa win will lift them within one point of fourth-place Pittsburgh. 

Red Wings at Predators (3 p.m.): With a magic number of four to clinch the Central Division over Nashville, the Red Wings could forget all about losing by a touchdown to St. Louis the other night with a win the Music City. One point will clinch a playoff spot for the Wings, while a regulation win would clinch the division. Nashville has a magic number of six to clinch a playoff spot. 

Stars at Kings (4 p.m.): The desperate Stars need a win on Saturday in Los Angeles. Five points behind eighth-place Chicago, Dallas needs a victory just to keep hope alive. A loss wouldn't mathematically eliminate them or anything  -- they still have a tragic number of eight points -- but it certainly wouldn't help. Things are less dire for the Kings, but with hopes of home ice in the first round still there, Los Angeles will certainly take this one seriously.

Canadiens at Devils (7 p.m.): The Devils are all but eliminated, and with a loss, no matter how it comes, they'll be officially eliminated. The Canadiens, meanwhile, need to get something rolling here in the final week of the season, and with a magic number still holding at five points over Carolina, a playoff spot isn't even guaranteed. 

Hurricanes at Islanders (7 p.m.): Speaking of Carolina, the Hurricanes can move within one point of eighth-place should they win on Long Island on Saturday night. They are still very much in the hunt, with a tragic number of eight behind the New York Rangers.

Sabres at Capitals (7 p.m.): Washington can leap Philadelphia and grab first place in the East with two points against Buffalo, but for a Sabres team that's desperate for points with Carolina on their heels, it won't be easy. Buffalo is in a better spot that the Rangers, but there's still a very realistic possibility that they could miss the playoffs if they stumble in the next eight days. That stretch begins tonight in D.C.

Penguins at Panthers (7 p.m.): The Penguins can move closer to the Atlantic-leading Flyers with a win, but with a loss, they'll be darn close to losing any chance at a top-3 seed. A loss also wouldn't help in the race for the 4-seed (and thus, home ice advantage in the first round), with Tampa Bay close on their heels. 

Ducks at Sharks (10:30 p.m.): Finally, the night capper is a big one in the race for the Pacific title. The Sharks can seriously injure the Ducks chances of winning that title with a victory, but with the way the Ducks are playing lately, that will be no easy feat. 

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