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Updated playoff projections: April 4th

Wednesday, 04.04.2012 / 9:36 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: April 4th
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 80 92 2 94
8th 80 88 2 90 2

9th 80 88 2 90 2
 
WESTERN CONFERENCE
Current
Position
NHL
Team
Games
Played
Current
Points
Games
Remaining
Projected
Points
Wins to
earn 8th
6th 80 98 2 100
7th 80 93 2 95 1
8th 80 92 2 94 2

9th 80 89 2 91 2
The skinny: Tuesday night in the NHL brought some wild games as teams continued their quest for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Wednesday dawns now with just four nights remaining in the 2011-12 regular season and the playoff picture still remains muddled as four spots, one conference crown and two division titles still up for grabs.

The picture looks different for each of the surviving teams, however.

Losing two consecutive games at this time of the season is never recommended, but Dallas has done just that with Tuesday's loss to San Jose. For the Stars, the misery is compounded by the fact they lost these two games to another team battling with them for one of the spots in the Western conference.

Both teams enetered the home-and-home series with control of their playoff destinies. Now, the Stars don't have any control. A fourth consecutive season out of the playoffs looks to be the reality for Dallas.

Colorado, which has been idle since Friday, has been watching and hoping for the right outcomes, looking at each night's schedule and determining what team or teams should be supported. The Avalanche didn't get the help they needed. With the eighth spot as their only possibility now, they must hope the Los Angeles Kings sweep the San Jose Sharks -- in regulation to boot -- and the Avs win out to qualify.

Phoenix, fresh off a record-setting 52-save shutout by Mike Smith, needs but one point in its remaining two games or the loss of a point by the Stars to qualify.

What can one say about the East?

The Buffalo Sabres took the Stanley Cup Playoff suspense and excitement to new heights Tuesday. Falling three goals behind the Maple Leafs, they somehow mustered up enough 'playoff magic' to escape with a OT victory and keep their hopes alive. A loss Tuesday and the sabres would have been on the precipice with little help in sight.

You can bet the Washington Capitals, currently in the No. 8 spot, had the gamut of emotions watching that game.

In the Sunshine State, the Panthers continue to find ways to dampen the playoff mood. This has got to be the longest clinching process in recent history. With one win in its past eight games, Florida has stumbled mightily in its quest to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2000. It doesn't get any easier for them as they visit the Caps on Thursday. Florida has a cushion, but they don't have to use it all!

With only two games on the schedule -- and only one with playoff implications -- Wednesday provides a bit of time for reflection. For some teams, it is a time to ponder what could be and for other teams, sadly, it will be about what could have been.

There is still work to be done, but the Stanley Cup Playoff picture is finally becoming clearer.
Quote of the Day

We think that Randy is a very good coach. Our players think that Randy is a very good coach. We think that he's going to get the most out of this group. With the addition of the two assistants, a bit of a different dynamic, we're very comfortable that this is a quality coaching staff that's going to maximize the potential of this team.

— Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis on head coach Randy Carlyle and his staff