With a loss to the 8th place Buffalo Sabres on Friday night, the Florida Panthers have indeed been eliminated from the playoffs and therefore, I have struck the names off of the playoff pool online selection sheet. The Panthers, to me, look like a team still searching for a direction to go in, but with some good draft picks already in the system and the promise of another top 5 pick this Summer, they should start to come around in another year or two.
In Saturday's action, we should have quite a bit of playoff race news. In the Eastern Conference, the idle Penguins can clinch a playoff spot with a Hurricanes regulation loss to the Lightning, while the Bruins can clinch with a regulation win at home to the Rangers and a Hurricanes regulation loss. The Islanders are the only team that can be eliminated by today's action, any loss to the Flyers (regulation, overtime or shootout) will do it, but if they do win, the Sabres can eliminate them with any win versus the Devils.
In the Western Conference, no team can clinch a playoff spot today, but the Red Wings can move at least a game closer with a win over the Leafs. Their current magic number is five, according to my simple spreadsheet. The St. Louis Blues could be eliminated with a regulation loss to the Wild and an Anaheim Ducks win in Chicago.
It should be an interesting day in the playoff race on Saturday, so buckle in.