Updated Look at the Race for Bottom NHL Playoff Spots in Each Conference

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Updated Look at the Race for Bottom NHL Playoff Spots in Each Conference
Marianne Helm/Getty Images

Look no further than the Southeast Division for confirmation that the NHL is in pseudo-playoff mode this week.

Only two of that division’s tenants, the Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets, are still eligible for the actual 2013 Stanley Cup tournament. Odds are one party will claim the divisional laurel and the automatic third-seed on the Eastern Conference leaderboard while the other will continue its itinerary nowhere beyond April 27.

The Caps hold a three-point upper hand on the ninth-seeded Jets with three games left for each team, including the last installment of their season series this Tuesday at the Verizon Center.

If the Jets fly in on the heels of a victory over Buffalo on Monday, a regulation win the following night will allow them to leapfrog the Capitals. But if they slip at the hands of the Sabres, then they must win in Washington to salvage any playoff hopes.

Regardless of Monday’s outcome, the Caps can put away the divisional title with a regulation win over the Jets.

That’s the encapsulation of two of the five Eastern Conference teams who, as of Sunday evening, were still eligible for one of four unclaimed playoff spots. The situation for the other three Eastern franchises and seven aspirants in the Western Conference are summed up as follows.

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