Playoff watch — what the bubble teams need to do


Using Sports Club Stats, here are the records each bubble team needs down the stretch to earn a better-than-50-percent shot of making the playoffs…

Eastern Conference (three bubble teams, one spot available)

Boston Bruins — 5-7-3
Ottawa Senators — 11-4-1
Florida Panthers — 10-3-2

Just a fantastic series of results from Boston over the last seven days, putting a firm grip on a playoff berth with wins over Philadelphia, Detroit, Ottawa and Tampa Bay. The victory against the Sens was vital — heading in, Ottawa had trimmed Boston’s lead for the final wild card spot to just five points — and Thursday’s win over the Bolts was big too, as it drew the B’s to within five points of Detroit for third in the Atlantic Division.

That said, all is not lost for the Sens and Panthers — Ottawa had some good results (wins over Calgary and Montreal), as did Florida (wins over the Islanders and Jets.) Of the two teams challenging Boston, though, the Panthers remains the more intriguing opponent as they have three games remaining against the Bruins: Mar. 21 in Florida, Mar. 31 in Boston and Apr. 9 in Florida.

Western Conference (eight bubble teams, four spots available)

Vancouver Canucks — 5-6-4
Minnesota Wild — 5-7-3
Calgary Flames — 6-6-3
Los Angeles Kings — 6-6-3
Winnipeg Jets — 7-3-4
San Jose Sharks — 8-3-3
Colorado Avalanche — 11-2-1
Dallas Stars — 11-1-2

Another bad week for the Jets, who dropped two of three, including a back-breaking 5-4 loss to St. Louis in which Barret Jackman’s center-ice goal with 63 seconds left nullified Winnipeg’s comeback from 4-1 down. The Jets followed that up with a disheartening 4-2 loss in Florida last night.

Good week, however, for Los Angeles. The Kings scored road wins in both Colorado and Vancouver, the latter putting them in the final wild card spot — ahead of the Jets — while drawing to within one point of Calgary and two of Vancouver in the Pacific Division.

This was also a good week for the other California team in the playoff hunt, San Jose. The Sharks gained four points with wins over Pittsburgh and Nashville, and are enjoying a solid stretch of play from goalie Antti Niemi — over his last five starts, Niemi has allowed just nine goals on 167 shots for a .946 save percentage, and one shutout.