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One Extreme to the Other: Where the Canes playoff hopes could be Monday

We've been tracking numerous methods that help predict the Carolina Hurricanes chances to make the playoffs over the last month. One is the complicated-to-explain though easy-to-remember "Tragic Number". Another route is to study the graphs and charts at SportsClubStats.com. There are so many balls in the air with five statistically significant games between now and tomorrow evening, I went and put together a couple tables to illustrate the best and worst case scenarios to frame the extremes of what might happen in the next 28 hours or so.

Couple notes

  • Clearly, these are the extremes. They are intended to establish the parameters of the "what if's". It is pretty unlikely either will unfold exactly as indicated and the prognosis will be somewhere in between.
  • The limits of SportsClubStats predicting more than one game in advance are obvious when you see the numbers in the "worst case" table. I would therefore suggest that the numbers in the "best case" table are equally flawed and will need to be re-figured once we get through the games tonight. Or: take these with a grain of salt. In contrast, the "Tragic Number" calculations, and even moreso, the points in the standings with the resultant seedings are pretty cut-and-dry.
  • I'm not a Tragic Number expert. If I've messed up the calculations, please call it out in the comments.

After the jump, check out the Tables of "Optimism" and that of "Going to hell in a handbasket".

First off, the Table of Optimism

Best Case Scenario
Team (current seed) Canes (9th) Rangers (8th) Sabres (7th) Habs (6th)
Current chances - % (SportsClubStats.com) 30.3 83.5 87.3 97.9
Saturday
Caps beat Sabres 4.4 1.8 -6.9 0.5
Canes beat Isles 12.5 -7.0 -4.2 -1.0
Devils beat Canadiens 1.6 0.6 0.4 -2.8
Sunday
Canes beat Sabres 18.6 -9.5 -13.0 -0.5
Flyers beat Rangers 6.0 -5.1 2.6 0.5
Resulting % Chance to make Playoffs 73.4 64.3 66.2 94.6
Tragic Number 6
Points in standings 88 87 87 89
Games Remaining 3 3 3 3
Non-Shootout Wins 34 33 34 38
Seed 7 9 8 6

Which is to say, that with every game decided in regulation to the Hurricanes' advantage, the Canes could leapfrog to 7th, with the 6th place Canadiens in their sights. Really. They would also have only a slim one-point margin above the 8th and 9th seeds, and the nail-biting would continue.

And then if it all goes to hell, and every single game goes the wrong way,

Worst case scenario
Team (current seed) Canes (9th) Rangers (8th) Sabres (7th) Habs (6th)
Current chances - % 30.3 83.5 87.3 97.9
Saturday
Sabres beat Caps -5.0 -1.8 7.5 -0.5
Isles beat Canes -13.6 7.4 4.6 1.2
Canadiens beat Devils -0.9 -0.4 -0.3 1.7
Sunday
Sabres beat Canes -19.1 6.8 11.2 1.0
Rangers beat Flyers -6.4 9.9 -2.5 -0.5
Resulting % Chance to make Playoffs -14.7 105.4 107.8 100.8
Tragic number 2
Points in standings 84 89 91 91
Games Remaining 3 3 3 3
Non-Shootout Wins 32 34 36 39
Seed 9 8 7 6

The standings would remain the same as they are now, except the Canes chances would be on life-support: 5 points out, with 3 games remaining. Those Resulting Chance % numbers in the negatives and greater than 100% for the other 3 teams are the tell-tale that the SportsClubStats numbers are imperfect when you try to compile too many together. A tragic number of 2, with 6 games remaining for the 9th and 8th seed teams combined, means the Canes would be pretty much through for the season, barring a miracle.

So temper your expectations accordingly, grab the beverage of choice, and buckle up. Above all else, remember, this is supposed to be fun. Good luck with that.