NHL Playoff Picture 2011: Flyers, Capitals Can Win Division Titles Tuesday

There are nine games around the NHL on Tuesday night, and seven of them will impact the 2011 playoff picture. Let's just get right to it, shall we?

All times Eastern.

Lightning at Sabres, 7 p.m.: It's possible that by the end of the night, the Tampa Bay Lightning are in control of the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. Should they beat the Buffalo Sabres and the Penguins lose in regulation to the New Jersey Devils, the Lightning will leap over Pittsburgh for that final home ice position.  

For the Sabres, two points would put them back in control of the No. 7 seed over the New York Rangers, and with a Montreal loss, they could even jump as high as sixth. A loss, however, would put the Rangers in control of seventh, and it'd also open the door for the Carolina Hurricanes to pull within a point of the final playoff spot. 

Any number of points earned by the Sabres will eliminate the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Capitals at Leafs, 7 p.m.: Toronto needs a lot to go right to make the playoffs, and if they lose even one point in this game against the Capitals, their season is over. They also need Buffalo to lose in regulation to Tampa Bay. 

Washington and Philadelphia are both in action Tuesday, so depending on what happens in each game, the Eastern lead could switch hands again. The teams are currently tied, but Philadelphia holds the tiebreaker. 

With two points against the Leafs (or with a Tampa loss in Buffalo), the Caps will clinch the Southeast Division.

Devils at Penguins, 7:30 p.m.: New Jersey can effectively end the Penguins hopes of winning the Atlantic Division should they keep them from getting any points Tuesday. The Flyers have a magic number of three to clinch the division, so if they earn a point and Pittsburgh loses in regulation, they'll clinch things.

Pittsburgh needs points, plain and simple. If they earn two points, they'll keep themselves in the hunt for the Atlantic and they'll hold control of the No. 4 seed, no matter what Tampa Bay does against Buffalo.

Blackhawks at Canadiens, 7:30 p.m.: With two points, the Canadiens will clinch a playoff spot. But should Montreal lose and Buffalo win on Tuesday, the Habs will fall to the No. 7 spot. 

For Chicago, tonight's situation is a little more important (not to downplay the situation Montreal finds itself in). Dallas and Calgary (okay, mostly Dallas) are right on their heels in the West, and if the Blackhawks lose in Montreal, the door will open for the Stars to pull within one point should they win tonight against Columbus.

]With a win, though, Chicago will pull past No. 7 Anaheim by a point.

Flyers at Senators, 7:30 p.m.: As mentioned above, the Flyers can clinch the Atlantic with two points, should Pittsburgh lose in any form. Tuesday's game is also important when it comes to the Eastern race since Washington is also in action. The outcome of those two games will dictate who has the edge for first place. Currently, the Flyers hold the tiebreaker by one non-shootout win. 

Thrashers at Predators, 8:00 p.m.: With a win and a Stars loss against Columbus, Nashville will return to the playoffs, seeding unknown. If Dallas loses in regulation and the Preds earn one point, they'll also clinch. Essentially, their magic number is three points. 

Blue Jackets at Stars, 8:30 p.m.: With a loss tonight in combination with a Blackhawks win, the Stars' tragic number will fall to just two points. There's no other way to put it: Dallas needs two points in the worst way.

If the Stars lose in regulation, the Los Angeles Kings will clinch a playoff spot. If they lose in any form, the Coyotes will clinch a spot. 

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