The race for the 2013 NHL playoffs has reached a point of ultimate uncertainty.
Entering Friday evening, both conferences are stuck with a logjam on the bubble and a virtual tie for the eighth and final playoff spot.
The New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets are dead even at 48 points, but only one Eastern Conference postseason spot is available for the two of them. And, with the inexperienced New York Islanders only three points ahead and the red-hot Buffalo Sabres just four points behind, the situation could soon get even more confusing.
Meanwhile, out west, the Detroit Red Wings and Dallas Stars, each with 47 points through 43 games, have two games in hand but two points to make up on the eighth-place Columbus Blue Jackets. The receding Minnesota Wild, stuck at 51 points, are quickly sliding back onto the bubble, too.
A lot more will be known about both conferences' scenarios and odds after this weekend, which features a plethora of contests between teams fighting for their postseason lives.
Which games carry the most enormous playoff implications throughout Friday, Saturday and Sunday night? A breakdown of four critical matchups falls on the coming slides.