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Updated playoff projections: March 13th

Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 9:47 AM

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

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On the Playoff Button blog
Updated playoff projections: March 13th
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
8th 69 76 13 89 8

9th 70 74 12 85 9
10th 69 72 13 84 10
11th 68 69 14 82 11
12th 69 68 13 79 12
 
WESTERN CONFERENCE
Current
Position
NHL
Team
Games
Played
Current
Points
Games
Remaining
Projected
Points
Wins to
earn 8th
8th 71 78 11 89 7

9th 68 77 14 91 8
10th 69 76 13 88 9
11th 69 76 13 88 9

The skinny: The NHL has their own version of March Madness as teams jockey for position and nearly every possible playoff spot is at stake.

Florida, which is trying to end a long playoff drought, entertains the reeling Toronto Maple Leafs with a chance to move three points ahead of the Washington Capitals for first place in the Southeast Division. Just as importantly, in their quest to end the playoff drought there is an opportunity to move further ahead of the Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets, who are trying to chase down Washington in the eighth spot.

Winning this game would make it almost impossible for the Jets to catch the Panthers. The Jets would have to win four more games than Florida in their remaining games to pass them. This is called breathing room.

As for the jockeying inside the top eight, look no further than the New Jersey Devils-Philadelphia Flyers matchup. Both of these teams try to chase down the fourth position in the conference and coveted home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.

Looking to the Western Conference, the San Jose Sharks won in Edmonton on Monday night to move past Calgary and can find themselves back in a playoff position with a win or even a single point Tuesday against the Flames. Those three point games are certainly loathed by teams not playing on a particular night.

The Flames have eight of their remaining 13 games at home, and those games are almost mandatory if they want to qualify for the playoffs. A year ago on this date the Flames were in eighth position, but they finished 5-3-3 -- including an 0-2-2 record against Phoenix, Los Angeles and Anaheim.

If you don't beat the teams you are competing with for playoff spots, you won't qualify. The Flames don't want to have a repeat of that this season.

As for the battles inside the top eight, Detroit, at the very least, wants to have home ice in the first round of the playoffs and with a win against the Kings, the Red Wings can move four points ahead of Nashville in that race.
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