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Clinching scenarios: NYR eye first; Panthers eye berth

Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 12:33 PM / Drive to the Playoffs

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Clinching scenarios: NYR eye first; Panthers eye berth

While much will remain undecided until the final weekend of the regular season, a few Stanley Cup Playoff spots can be decided Tuesday.

With five days remaining in the regular season, five playoff spots, three division titles, both conference titles and the Presidents' Trophy all remain up for grabs.

Those numbers, though, could change by Wednesday morning

Who can finish where?

Eastern Conference
Team Current Possible Finish
NY Rangers 1st 1st or 4th
Boston 2nd 2nd (locked)
Florida 3rd 3rd, 7th, 8th or 9th
Pittsburgh 4th 1st, 4th or 5th
Philadelphia 5th 4th, 5th or 6th
New Jersey 6th 5th, 6th or 7th
Ottawa 7th 6th, 7th or 8th
Washington 8th 3rd, 7th, 8th or 9th
Buffalo 9th 8th, 9th, 10th or 11th
Western Conference
Team Current Possible Finish
Vancouver 1st 1st or 2nd
St. Louis 2nd 1st or 2nd
Los Angeles 3rd 3rd, 7th, 8th or 9th
Detroit 4th 4th, 5th or 6th
Nashville 5th 4th, 5th or 6th
Chicago 6th 4th, 5th or 6th
Phoenix 7th 3rd, 7th, 8th, 9th or 10th
San Jose 8th 3rd, 7th, 8th, 9th or 10th
Dallas 9th 3rd, 7th, 8th, 9th or 10th
Colorado 10th 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th or 11th

The New York Rangers, who sit in first place in the East, can clinch the Atlantic Division and the top seed in the East if they get one point Tuesday against the Flyers or if Pittsburgh loses to Boston in any fashion.

Two other notable developments could take place Tuesday night in the East. Buffalo, with a victory, can tie No. 8 Washington in points, but remain in ninth because of tiebreakers. Philadelphia, with a win against the Rangers, can leapfrog Pittsburgh in a number of scenarios if the Penguins lose to Boston in regulation.

New York also will attempt to retain or extend their lead in the race for the Presidents' Trophy. The Rangers hold a tie-breaker advantage for first place overall over Vancouver, which plays Anaheim.

Also in the East, No. 3 Florida can clinch the Southeast Division title and the No. 3 conference playoff seed if they defeat Winnipeg in any fashion. If the Panthers lose in overtime or a shootout, they would still clinch a playoff berth -- but not the division title -- if Buffalo loses to Toronto in any fashion. If the Panthers lose in regulation, they would clinch a playoff berth if Buffalo loses in regulation.

No teams in the West can clinch Tuesday, but there is plenty of movement possible.

No. 8 San Jose or No. 9 Dallas, which play each other, could jump to No.7. Current No. 7 Phoenix, which plays Columbus, could tie No. 3 Los Angeles in points, but the idle Kings would remain in first in the Pacific Division, and third in the conference, because of tiebreakers. No. 5 Nashville, which plays Minnesota, could leapfrog No. 4 Detroit, which is idle.

Quote of the Day

I've never seen anything like that. The great thing is I don't know how many times guys bailed me out where they had to score to keep it alive and they did every time. It was amazing. It's not the way we draw it up, to go 20 rounds here, but obviously it's a big win.

— Florida goalie Roberto Luongo after the Panthers defeated the Capitals in the longest shootout in NHL history on Tuesday
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