NHL Playoff Picture 2011: Rangers, Hurricanes Will Learn Fate Saturday

Let's quickly run down the playoff picture scenarios in the Eastern Conference on this Saturday, the day before the 2011 NHL regular season comes to a close.

The New York Rangers need at least one point in their final game against the New Jersey Devils to have even a hope of making the postseason. If they earn one point, they need Carolina to lose in regulation to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night. If Carolina earns two points against the Bolts, it's all over for the Rangers no matter what happens. 

Even if the Rangers earn two points, meaning they can at worst tie the Canes, Carolina holds the tiebreaker in all situations. Simply put, the Rangers do not control their own fate. It's the only Eastern race that's still up for grabs in terms of playoff positioning, but there's still a battle for the Atlantic Division to be had.

If Philadelphia defeats the Islanders, they'll win the Atlantic. If they lose and Pittsburgh comes out on top against Atlanta on Sunday, the Penguins will win the division. The Flyers have clinched the first tiebreaker, so they control the fate of the division.

Pittsburgh has clinched the No. 4 seed, at least, though, so they'll have home ice advantage in the first round. Tampa Bay is locked into the No. 5 seed and will play whoever loses the Atlantic Division title -- Philadelphia or Pittsburgh.

Buffalo and Montreal are both clinched and battling for the No. 6 seed now, and as the teams sit tied with a game to play, the Habs hold the tiebreaker. Montreal plays Toronto on Saturday night, while the Sabres end their regular season in Columbus at 7 p.m.

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