In this 48-game lockout-shortened NHL season, there are very few teams that are legitimately out of the playoffs.
The standings are very close, and even teams that are currently on the outside looking in have a chance to get back into the playoff picture by reeling off a few wins.
However, it isn't just the number of points a team needs to make up. It's also the number of teams they need to leapfrog past.
Some teams might only be a few points out, but there are four or five other teams between them and the last playoff spot.
In a season rife with three-point overtime games and with all games being between conference opponents, it is hard to make up ground and pass teams.
But if you can get in, even the eighth seed might be enough to make a deep run, as evidenced by the defending Stanley Cup champions. The Los Angeles Kings backed into the playoffs as the eighth seed, then dominated on the way to the Stanley Cup.
With all that in mind, while teams like the Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Edmonton Oilers are in deep trouble, there are three teams that currently have zero chance of realistically making the playoffs. And of course, if you don't make the playoffs, then you have zero chance at the Stanley Cup.
The Florida Panthers have 24 points and are eight points out of the playoffs. They are 15th in the Eastern Conference, 3-6-1 in their last 10 games.
The Panthers have no chance to make the playoffs, and the reason is quite clear. They have been absolutely ravaged by injury.
Looking at the injury lists on TSN.ca, the Panthers have an astounding 10 players injured right now, many of them veterans who would have been leaned upon down the stretch. Michael Caruso, Mike Weaver, Jose Theodore, Dmitry Kulikov, Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg and Ed Jovanovski are all out long term right now with serious injuries.
George Parros, Sean Bergenheim and Eric Selleck are also injured, although their status is either day-to-day or undisclosed.
With half of the roster injured, it is no surprise the Panthers are dead last in the Eastern Conference.
Calgary is the worst team in the Western Conference, sitting at 14th with a dismal 26 points. The Flames are six points out of the playoffs and have lost three games in a row.
While the Panthers were last in their conference due to injuries, the Flames are second to last due to the incompetence of their management.
The Flames haven't made the playoffs in three years—soon to be four.
They have the oldest average age in the NHL, and they lead the NHL in contracts with no-movement or no-trade clauses.
The Flames are also in the bottom third of the league when it comes to available cap space.
All that equals a team that isn't any good, doesn't have any cap space to bring in help and doesn't have a chance to improve until those contracts start to expire.
But as a Canadian team, it is doing pretty well in terms of revenue, so I guess that is one thing going for the management of the Calgary Flames, who inexplicably haven't cleaned house.
This one is a bit puzzling.
The Colorado Avalanche are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games, and they have dropped down to 15th in the Western Conference.
With 26 points, they are six points out of the playoffs. They would have to leapfrog six teams to make the playoffs, which is almost impossible.
The Avalanche aren't plagued with injuries like Florida, and they don't have management as incompetent as that of the Flames.
But some bad luck, some curious moves in forcing Ryan O'Reilly into a holdout situation and an injury to captain Gabriel Landeskog, and the Avs are looking at a lottery pick.