NHL Playoff Picture: Toronto Maple Leafs Magical (Or Something) Run Comes To Close

The run is over, Toronto Maple Leafs fans. Thanks to your team's shootout loss to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night, combined with Buffalo's win over Tampa Bay, the playoffs are officially out of reach. Better luck next year.

Tuesday was a big night in the 2011 NHL playoff picture, so let's get right to all the games and what they meant for... well, just about everybody that matters right now. A team-by-team breakdown:


No. 1 Washington Capitals: That's right, the Caps are officially No. 1 again, thanks to a win in Toronto and a Flyers loss in Ottawa. They hold a two point lead on Philadelphia for the spot and hold a magic number of three to clinch. They need just one point to clinch one of the top-two seeds.

No. 2 Philadelphia Flyers: Philly is in free-fall mode, losers of four straight games, and with a week to go before playoff games to start, that's pretty horrible timing. The Flyers dropped the East lead on Tuesday night with their loss in Ottawa and allowed Pittsburgh to move within a point of the Atlantic Division lead.

Their magic number to clinch the division is at three points with two games remaining, and the only good news here is that they've clinched home ice in the first round no matter what.

No. 3 Boston Bruins: The B's were off Tuesday, but it's looking more and more like they'll be sticking in that No. 3 spot. They could reach second place or even first place before all is said and done, but with a tragic number of three points to reach even just the No. 2 spot with three games left, that seems tough.

No. 4 Pittsburgh Penguins: Thanks to their win over the Devils, the Pens are very much in the hunt for the Atlantic crown. Philadelphia's magic number, and thus Pittsburgh's tragic number, to clinch sits at three points. Both teams have two games left. They're two points away from clinching home-ice in Round 1.

No. 5 Tampa Bay Lightning: The Bolts are basically just fighting for that home-ice spot now that they're out of the running for the Southeast crown, and with their loss Tuesday and Pittsburgh's win, their tragic number to lose that home-ice edge is just two points. They're almost 100 percent locked in to play either Philadelphia or Pittsburgh in Round 1, essentially depending on if the Flyers decide to wake up and clinch the Atlantic in their last two games.

No. 6 Montreal Canadiens: The Habs clinched a playoff spot on Tuesday night with two points over Chicago. They can't go any higher than they currently sit, but could fall as low as No. 8. 

No. 7 Buffalo Sabres: Buffalo's win on Tuesday was a huge boost to their playoff chances. With two games left, the Sabres only need one point to at least guarantee a tie with No. 9 Carolina.

Should Buffalo only earn one point and should Carolina win their three remaining games in OT or regulation, the Sabres would win the tiebreaker by virtue of earning one extra point during the regular season series between the two clubs. Essentially, all the Sabres need is a single point in their final two games to clinch.

No. 8 New York Rangers: The Rangers were off on Tuesday, so not much has changed for them other than being leaped by Buffalo. That's out of their hands. All they need is three points in their final two games to clinch a spot. Plain and simple.

No. 9 Carolina Hurricanes: It's basically down to Carolina and the Rangers for that final seed. Any number of points earned by New York plus any number of points lost by the Hurricanes equaling three will lead to Carolina's elimination. Two games left. 


No. 1 Vancouver Canucks: Clinched everything, nothing to talk about.

No. 2: San Jose Sharks: Off Tuesday, magic number to clinch No. 2 seed is still at six points over Detroit.

No. 3 Detroit Red Wings: It's just a race with San Jose at this point.

No. 4 Nashville Predators: The Preds still need one point to clinch a spot officially clinch a spot, but with their win over Atlanta on Tuesday, they climbed all the way up to fourth place in the West. They're one point up on No. 5 and No. 6, but they have played an extra game over the five teams below them.

No. 5 Phoenix Coyotes: The Coyotes need two points to clinch, and they can finish as high as fourth or as low as ninth. Ah, the West.

No. 6 Los Angeles Kings: L.A. is basically in the same boat at Phoenix, although when it comes to that race for the positioning between those two clubs, the Coyotes have the edge in non-shootout wins. By one. Did I mention I hate the West this year?

No. 7 Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks have a tragic number of four to lose out on moving up in the standings, but there's still a very real chance of moving down. They sit just two points up on both No. 8 Chicago and No. 9 Dallas. Their magic number to clinch sits at four points. 

No. 8 Chicago Blackhawks: Also just two points up on No. 9 Dallas, the Blackhawks have a magic number of five to clinch a playoff spot. With only three games left in their season, that's much less than certain.

No. 9 Dallas Stars: Two points back with three to play and two teams to potentially catch? Crazier things have happened.

No. 10 Calgary Flames: All but done, tragic number of two with three games left and a Stars team to jump over. 

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