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Posted On Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 9:35 AM

By Craig Button -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - On the Playoff Button blog

Updated playoff projections: April 3rd

NHL Network's Craig Button has been tracking playoff positioning -- using a variety of statistical categories -- for several years now. His formula, while not a true probability exercise, has proven to be very effective at predicting the cutoff number to secure a Stanley Cup Playoffs berth.

In its simplest terms, Button's formula uses a team's current winning percentage, factoring in games remaining, to arrive at the number of wins -- and points -- each team will finish the season with. From that exercise, the formula can extrapolate the magic number for qualification and which teams currently in the race will reach that number. This equation will also determine tiebreakers should they become necessary.

Still not convinced? Check out the full explanation of Button's formula

EASTERN CONFERENCE
Current
Position
NHL
Team
Games
Played
Current
Points
Games
Remaining
Projected
Points
Wins to
earn 8th
7th 79 92 3 95
8th 80 88 2 90 2

9th 79 86 3 89 3
 
WESTERN CONFERENCE
Current
Position
NHL
Team
Games
Played
Current
Points
Games
Remaining
Projected
Points
Wins to
earn 8th
6th 80 98 2 100
7th 79 91 3 94 2
8th 79 90 3 93 2

9th 79 89 3 92 3
The skinny: Every day brings new opportunity in the quest for Stanley Cup Playoffs qualification.

For the Florida Panthers, Tuesday brings the opportunity to end the longest current playoff drought in the NHL. The Panthers have not participated in a playoff game since 2000, but that can end with a win Tuesday night. Not only would the Panthers be in, but they would clinch the Southeast Division after the Capitals opened that possibility with a loss to Tampa Bay on Monday. Heck, the Panthers don't even have to beat Winnipeg to get in. IF the Panthers lose in overtime or a shootout, they would clinch if Buffalo losses to Toronto in any fashion. If the Panthers lose in regulation, they would clinch a playoff berth if Buffalo loses in reegulation. In either of those two latter scenarios, the Southeast Division title would remain in play.

Speraking of Buffalo, the Sabres are also trying to take advantage of the generosity shown by the Caps in dropping Monday night's game. The Sabres can't rely on anybody to help them, they must help themselves. With a victory, Buffalo would jump back into a points tie with the Capitals, who play Florida on Thursday.

So, this is how Tuesday looks in the East; Florida needs to win but can hope for a regulation loss by the Sabres to clinch a playoff spot. Buffalo is cheering for Winnipeg to beat the Panthers just as it cheered for the Lightning to beat the Capitials. Washington is cheering for the Jets and Maple Leafs to win. If the Sabres lose at home to the Maple Leafs, Buffalo's playoff hopes would be on life support. Needless to say, the Jets and Maple Leafs have big says in the role of spoilers as to how the Eastern Conference playoff race finishes.

In the West, San Jose visits Dallas with both teams controlling their playoff destinies. The Stars hold the tie breaker with more ROW (regulation and overtime) wins so a victory by any means benefits them. A loss to the Sharks, however, forgeits the ability of Dallas to control its own destiny.

San Jose can still win the Pacific Division as it meets the Kings, the current first-place team, in its final two games of the season. Losing to Dallas is no loss of playoff destiny, but the road becomes a lot more difficult.

Sitting pretty are the Phoenix Coyotes. They're playing the League's worst team in Phoenix and the Stars and Sharks game can deliver two points to one team. It's even better, though, if there is no third point, courtesy of overtime or a shootout. But, to realize the potential for benefits, Phoenix must win its game  -- and that is no easy feat as the Blue Jackets have  won three in a row, including wins against St. Louis and Detroit.

There is a scenario where the Coyotes, Sharks and Stars could all end the night tied with 91. If that is the case, the Stars would move to No. 7, the Coyotes to No. 8 and the Sharks would be on the outside looking in.
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 12:06 AM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

EDM @ LA - 14:13 of the Second Period



At 14:13 of the second period in the Oilers/Kings game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Dustin Penner's shot did not cross the goal line before the net was dislodged. No goal Los Angeles.
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 4:29 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Oilers' Potter sitting out

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- According to the Edmonton Journal, Oilers defenseman Corey Potter is out with a concussion from a hit by the Anaheim Ducks' Bobby Ryan during Sunday's game.

Ryan appeared to hit Potter up near the head in the first period. No penalty was called on the play and Potter played the rest of the game.

The Oilers made an emergency recall of defenseman Bryan Rodney from Oklahoma City of the American Hockey League.

Here is the lineup the Oilers likely will put on the ice Monday when they face the Los Angeles Kings:

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle - Teemu Hartikainen
Ales Hemsky - Eric Belanger - Sam Gagner
Ryan Smyth - Shawn Horcoff - Ryan Jones
Ben Eager - Chris Vandevelde - Lennart Petrell

Ryan Whitney - Nick Schultz
Andy Sutton - Bryan Rodney
Cam Barker - Colten Teubert

Nikolai Khabibulin
Devan Dubnyk
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 4:21 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Drewiske to get back in Kings' lineup

EL SEGUNDO, Calif -- Kings defenseman Davis Drewiske came off the ice with the regulars and coach Darryl Sutter indicated he will play him at some point down the stretch "because at some point we're going to need him."

Drewiske last played Feb. 21. He has two goals in nine games this season.

Here's the rest of the lineup the Kings likely will use Monday against the Edmonton Oilers:

Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Brad Richardson
Dwight King - Mike Richards - Justin Williams
Dustin Penner - Jarret Stoll - Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford - Colin Fraser - Jordan Nolan

Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov
Matt Greene - Davis Drewiske

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 4:18 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Richardson getting an opportunity

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Jeff Carter's from the Kings' lineup has opened a spot for Brad Richardson, who became the odd-man out when L.A. acquired Carter on Feb. 25.

Richardson subsequently was scratched in all but two of the first 16 games following the trade and admitted it didn't sit well with him.

"At times it's not easy," Richardson said. "You always want to be in there. It's a thing you learn as you get older. You got to stay positive. You have to be a good teammate. You don't want the other teammates to see that.

"Even though you're [angry] at not playing, you still have to show up at the rink and have a positive attitude. But it's never easy. There are times where I was [angry] and I did want to be in there, but when you come back you try to be that much better."

So far, Richardson has taken advantage of his playing time. Sutter put him on the top line Saturday and Richardson scored twice, his first points since Jan. 12 and his first goals since Dec. 31.

"We talked to Brad," Sutter said. "He wasn't very happy [sitting out]. I don't blame him. You're not playing, you better not be happy. You better work your butt off in practice. If the coaches tell you that we want you to start preparing to play, then you have to go through that. You have to do that to reinforce it in your mind."

Richardson has played on every line since he came to L.A. Last season he had a prominent role playing with Wayne Simmonds and Kyle Clifford, as the trio was the club's most effective line against San Jose in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Sutter still wants more out of Richardson and said that, “OK is not OK."

Sutter didn't have any reservations putting Richardson in a top-line role, but said Richardson has to produce there.

"We're at the time of the year where those kids with that same skill set are playing every other night in (American Hockey League affiliate) Manchester," said Sutter.
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 4:13 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Kings' Carter has bruised ankle

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- An MRI exam on Jeff Carter's ankle revealed the Los Angeles Kings forward has a deep bone bruise and no structural damage, the team announced Monday.

Carter is considered day-to-day but is not expected to play when the Kings host the Edmonton Oilers on Monday. The Kings have two days off the Oilers game and finish the regular season with a critical home-and-home series against San Jose.

Carter caught his toe along the boards in Calgary on March 28 and twisted his ankle. He was seen on crutches with a walking boot.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter did not yet know the results of the MRI after the morning skate but said that the severity of Carter’s injury wasn’t too much of a concern.

"It really doesn't have any impact other than we miss him in the lineup," Sutter said. "What the results are doesn't really matter. He's getting better. We're not going to amputate, I don't think."

L.A. has gone 1-0-1 without Carter.
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 1:45 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Prospecting with Central Scouting

A special dinner with Mr. Jim Gregory

The highlight of my weekend stay with NHL Central Scouting was, without question, Saturday night.

After being told a table for seven at a local steak establishment would take approximately 45 minutes, Hall of Famer Jim Gregory, 77, took out his cell phone and began punching in numbers while sitting in the driver's seat of his white Cadillac.

I'm thinking to myself, "This is going to be good."
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 1:39 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Flyers' Briere, Grossmann injured

The Philadelphia Flyers won Sunday's battle with the Pittsburgh Penguins but did not emerge unscathed.

The team announced Monday that center Danny Briere is out indefinitely with an upper-back contusion, and defenseman Nicklas Grossmann is out 7-10 days with a lower-body injury.

Grossmann was injured midway through the first period when he collided with the Penguins Joe Vitale.

Vitale's hit on Briere with 1:03 left in regulation sparked the late-game melee that saw 52 minutes in penalties assessed, as well as the ejections of and Flyers coach Peter Laviolette and Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato.

The Flyers play their final three regular-season games this week -- Tuesday against the Rangers, Thursday against the Sabres and a rematch with the Penguins on Saturday in Pittsburgh.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 1:27 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Prospecting with Central Scouting

Who's your goalie?

Before I left the meetings for the flight back to New York, Central Scouting's Al Jensen was given the floor just prior to the lunch break to discuss the top North American goalies he had locked in on the draft board.

Keep in mind, the top eight goalies are usually invited to the NHL Combine in May.

Here are the numbers for the top five North American goalies  that Central Scouting had listed on their midterm rankings.

1-Malcolm Subban, Belleville, OHL, 39 games, 2.50 GAA, .923 save percentage
2-Matthew Murray, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL, 36 games, 4.08 GAA, .876 save percentage
3-Brandon Whitney, Victoriaville, QMJHL, 36 games, 2.74 GAA, .896 save percentage
4-Jon Gillies, Indiana, USHL, 48 games, 2.76 GAA, .916 save percentage
5-Jake Paterson, Saginaw, OHL 42 games, 3.42 GAA, .904 save percentage

Jensen went one by one, starting from the top. Many of the scouts, who obviously were involved with keeping tabs on skaters for much of the year, also watched a few of the top goalies ranked.

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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 1:26 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Ehrhoff won't return this week, Myers questionable

Buffalo's bid for a playoff berth will have to go on without defenseman Christian Ehrhoff and possibly fellow blueliner Tyler Myers.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said Monday that Ehrhoff will not play in the final three regular season games. He added that Myers could be back this week, but the towering defenseman was not on the ice for Monday's practice after sitting out Saturday's game with a foot injury.

Ehrhoff has missed the last two games since injuring himself last Tuesday in Washington when he appeared to have a knee-on-knee collision with Capitals forward Troy Brouwer.

Buffalo is 0-2 and has allowed a combined nine goals in the games Ehrhoff has missed. He has 32 points in 66 games this season.

Ruff said Ehrhoff would probably be available for the playoffs, but the Sabres have to get there first and that's not going to be easy.

Buffalo trails the Capitals by two points for eighth place, but Washington could extend its lead to four points with a win Monday in Tampa Bay. If the Capitals beat the Lightning, the Sabres will only stay alive in the race if they pick up at least one point Tuesday against Toronto.
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Quote of the Day

If you want to prove people wrong, you've just got to go out and do it. Yeah, we blew 3-2 series leads the last two years, but no one is going remember that if we go out there on Saturday night and beat these guys and go play in the Stanley Cup Final. We need to get back to work and we'll start to do that tomorrow.

— Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri following a loss to the Blackhawks in Game 6 on Wednesday