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Updated playoff projections: March 27th

Tuesday, 03.27.2012 / 10:10 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 27th
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 76 84 6 90 4

9th 76 84 6 90 4
10th 76 78 6 84 6
 
WESTERN CONFERENCE
Current
Position
NHL
Team
Games
Played
Current
Points
Games
Remaining
Projected
Points
Wins to
earn 8th
8th 77 87 5 92 3

9th 76 86 6 92 4
10th 78 86 4 90 4
11th 77 85 5 90 4
The skinny: Look no further than America's capitol city for the 'must-see' game Tuesday.

The Buffalo Sabres will be in town to face the Washington Capitals, and the winner moves into sole position of eighth place in the Eastern Conference. The projection for playoff qualification in the East remains at 91 points, so while no 'spoils' will go to the victor, that team can move a little closer towards the magic number and in turn, inflict some damage on the nearest competitor. A Washington win coupled with a Florida loss at Montreal and the Southeast Division crown also comes into sight for the Caps. Florida visits Washington one last time this season on April 5th.

Washington holds the tiebreaker over Buffalo, with more regulation and/or overtime wins -- the magical 'ROW' column in the standings -- by a wide margin.  A tie in the standings does not help the Sabres. With five games remaining for each club after Tuesday, the Sabres would have to gain three more points than Washington in those games to get past them.

It is a small number but with an equally small number of games remaining, it becomes quite a task to accomplish barring a Washington collapse. The Panthers need to help their own cause and not rely upon others to push them along. Winless in their past three games, including shootout losses to the Oilers and Islanders, a Florida win has significant repercussions for the East race. It would put them four points, at the very least, up on the ninth-place team.

Again, at this point in the season with the schedule dwindling, that is a significant number and a gap that would be very difficult to overcome for the team that loses in Washington. The winner on Tuesday in Washington will get a leg up and 'control their destiny' and the Panthers can 'kill two birds with one stone' with a win.
Quote of the Day

[He's] real confident with the puck now, getting it off his stick quick and no second-guessing. We need that. He's such a good guy in the room. He works so hard. That's the big thing. For not a big man, he just fights for every puck and when he scores, the guys appreciate that even more.

— Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice on Mathieu Perreault, who scored two goals in win against Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday