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Race for the playoffs: Rangers-Flyers, Sabres-Canes provide two big contests

Apr 3, 2011, 11:35 AM EST

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Stephane Yelle, Ryan Miller AP

With the season winding down and the playoff picture sorting itself out, we’ll be taking a look at the night’s games and how they’ll potentially affect the playoff races. This is ProHockeyTalk’s “Race for the Playoffs.”

Eastern Conference

x-1. Washington – 103 pts (3 GR)
x-2. Philadelphia – 102 pts (4 GR)
y-3. Boston – 99 pts (4 GR)
x-4. Pittsburgh – 100 pts (3 GR)
x-5. Tampa Bay – 97 pts (4 GR)
6. Montreal – 91 pts (3 GR)
7. Buffalo – 88 pts (4 GR)
8. NY Rangers – 87 pts (4 GR)
9. Carolina – 86 pts (4 GR)
10. Toronto – 84 pts (3 GR)

x – clinched playoff spot
y – clinched division title
GR – games remaining

NY Rangers @ Philadelphia –  12:30 pm ET

We have you covered for the NBC Game of the Week. Highlighted articles include:

Ultimately, this game could go a long way in accomplishing those tasks for the Flyers and Rangers, respectively.

Buffalo @ Carolina – 5:00 pm ET

This game could have enormous implications on the outlook of the Eastern Conference playoff bubble. If the Hurricanes manage to win this game in regulation, they would tie the Sabres in points and non-shootout wins with the same games remaining. Conversely, Buffalo could open up a nice cushion between themselves and the Canes if they won this game, even if it wouldn’t guarantee that Carolina would disappear from their rear view mirrors.

Of course, both teams might be keeping an eye on the NBC Game of the Week, because the Rangers will provide both sides with added incentive whether they win or lose.

Tampa Bay @ Chicago – 7:00 pm ET

This game is bigger for the Blackhawks than it is the Lightning, but that doesn’t mean that Tampa Bay lacks a reason to suit up. The Bolts can draw to within one point of the fourth seeded Pittsburgh Penguins. This marks their one game in hand over Pittsburgh, so they would get three games to make up a one-point difference if they managed to beat Chicago.

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