OK, this is as much for me as it is for the public, but I'm sure it'll be useful for you too. The scenarios for the last week of the season are cringe-inducing and it's giving me a headache to think about it, so I'm writing them down instead.
First, the tiebreaker scenarios: the Hurricanes own the tiebreaker over the Rangers. However, they will not own the tiebreaker over the Sabres unless both of the following things happen:
- The Canes win out, and none of the three games go to a shootout.
- In their final three games, the Sabres do not win a game in regulation or in overtime.
If the Canes and Sabres finish tied in regulation or overtime wins (first tiebreaker), the second is the season series, in which both teams went 2-1-1. The third tiebreaker is goal differential, and with the Sabres owning a 19-goal lead, it's highly unlikely they will lose on that tiebreaker.
After the jump, the details of how many points each team needs in the final games of the season.
First, the Canes' maximum number of points is 93 (a 3-0-0 record the rest of the way). The Rangers can conceivably get to 95 and the Sabres can finish with 96.
If the Canes go 3-0-0: They will finish with 93 points, and need one of the following things to happen:
The Rangers go 1-1-0 or worse (keeping in mind the Canes own the tiebreaker).
The Sabres go 1-2-0 or worse.
The Canadiens (yes, they're still in play if the Canes go undefeated in regulation the rest of the way) go 1-2-0 or worse. (The Habs own the tiebreaker over the Canes with 39 ROW.)
If the Canes go 2-0-1: They will finish with 92 points, and need one of the following things to happen:
The Rangers go 0-1-1 or worse.
The Sabres go 0-2-1 or worse.
The Canadiens go 0-3-0.
If the Canes go 2-1-0 or 1-0-2: They will finish with 91 points, meaning they would not be able to catch the Canadiens due to the tiebreaker. The Canes would need either the Rangers to go 0-2-0 or the Sabres to go 0-3-0.
If the Canes get anything less than four points in their final three games: They are cooked. They will not be able to catch the Rangers or Canadiens, and since they by definition can't both earn the tiebreaker over the Sabres and earn less than four points (since they need to go 3-0 to earn the tiebreaker), the Sabres would be in as well.
Bottom line - if the Sabres or Canadiens get to 93 points, the Canes cannot catch them. If the Rangers get to 94, the Canes cannot catch them. If all threeof those things happen, the Canes are out no matter how they finish. Additionally, one of the three teams above the Canes must lose at least one game in regulation. If all three teams get points in each of their remaining games, no matter how, the Canes are done, with one (and only one) exception: if the Rangers go 0-0-2 and the Canes go 3-0-0, the Canes will be in.
I'll update as we go through the week. Needless to say, there's a long way to go, but the Canes need some serious help if they're going to be playing after Saturday.