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Updated playoff projections: March 28th

Wednesday, 03.28.2012 / 9:40 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 28th
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 77 86 5 91 3

9th 77 84 5 89 4
 
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: Calgary's Stanley Cup Playoff hopes are hanging by a thread.

A win Wednesday night against a Los Angeles Kings team also clawing to get into the postseason is mandatory. So, expect the Saddledome to be rocking as loud -- if not louder -- than what we witnessed at Verizon Center in Washington on Tuesday night.

The Flames, though, need a very different result than the Capitals managed against Buffalo under similar -- although not quite as dire -- circumstances. A loss to the Kings and what little hope remains for the Flames will be all but be extinguished. If it is going to take 93 points to get into the Top 8 in the West (which is the Wednesday projection), Calgary would need to win its four remaining games after a loss Wednesday to reach that threshold. Yes, three of those four games will be at home, but two of the remaining four games are against a Vancouver team in the hunt for the Presidents' Trophy.

A win by Calgary on Wednesday paints a far rosier picture. The Flames would be right on the heels of Phoenix for the eighth spot and all the teams In the race for the final two spots -- San Jose, L.A., Dallas, Phoenix -- will play each other down the sdtretch. Favorable results for Calgary are possible in that cut-throat battle royale, but the Flames must first help themselves and then look for a 'little help from their friends.'

On the other side of the equation, the Kings can deal an almost fatal blow to Calgary while, at the same time, strengthen their quest for a Pacific division crown. A win in Calgary, coupled with a regulation loss by San Jose (we'll talk more about that in a minute) and the Kings could once again sit in first in the division and third in the conference. I would say that is incentive to chase the two points in what will be a hostile atmosphere.

Up the highway in Edmonton, the Dallas Stars play a depleted Oilers' team before a tough closing schedule that includes two games against San Jose and single games against Vancouver, St. Louis and Nashville. The Stars must gain two points against an Oilers team playing out the string. A win in Edmonton and a loss by San Jose puts the Stars back in control of the Pacific race -- especially with games left against the Sharks. A loss, however, and the slope is a bit more slippery.

Colorado plays in Calgary on Friday, but it will become a meaningless game for them with a loss on Wednesday to the Canucks in Vancouver. The Avalanche sit on the precipice with only four games remaining. A loss and the Avs will only be able to max out at 92 points.

That's not enough, according to my current projection. A valiant attempt to make the playoffs will fall short. The Canucks have added incentive to win as they try to keep pace with the St. Louis Blues for first in the Western Conference.

San Jose visits the Ducks and can maintain its Pacific Division lead with a win. If the Ducks don't end this game with two points, they will be officially eliminated.

How about a little recap?

If the Kings win and the Stars and Sharks lose in regulation, Los Angeles moves into first in the Pacific and third in the conference. If the Stars win and the Sharks get less than two points, the Stars move into the Pacific lead and the Sharks fall to seventh. If the Stars and Kings gain non-shootout victories, but the Sharks lose in regulation, the Sharks fall back to seventh. If Colorado wins in that same scenario, the Sharks actually fall back to No. 8 and the Phoenix Coyotes fall out of the playoff picture.

Those are just a few of the scenarios that could play out Wednesday. And people think this scoreboard watching and figuring out what the results mean in the standings is easy!
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