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Magic Number Tracker: Tuesday, March 20

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The Preds just keep on piling up points, chipping away at all the magic numbers.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Buffalo Sabres
The Preds’ magic number for winning the Central didn’t stop at 12. Fish and the boys trimmed it even further than that on Monday.
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Each day for the remainder of the regular season, we’ll update two things – what the Preds’ magic number is for playoff positioning, and which results are preferential for the best possible playoff positioning.

How the magic number is calculated

The magic number is the difference between the Preds’ current point total and the maximum point total of whatever team is in the spot of reference (i.e., whichever playoff spot is in question), plus one point to avoid tiebreakers.

For example, Nashville currently sits at 106 points, and second-place Winnipeg’s maximum possible point total is 116, so the Preds’ magic number to clinch the Central Division title is 11 (116-106+1). It’s a combination of points gained by Nashville, plus points lost by the other team in question.

The number could drop by as many as four points if both teams play on the same night, or even five if the Preds clinch the tiebreaker over a certain team.

Yesterday’s impacts and today’s clinching scenarios

Of course, everything starts with the Preds’ two points in Buffalo. Minnesota’s overtime loss chopped another point off of the magic number for a top-two finish in the Central.

Los Angeles kept the wild-card logjam intact, taking back third in the Pacific and putting the Ducks back into the second wild-card spot. For now.

The Preds can’t clinch anything of note on Tuesday, but they can get closer to the top seeding goals.

As far as tragic numbers go, here we are:

Current magic numbers to clinch

These numbers are how many points the Preds need (either by their wins or others’ losses) to guarantee a finish in that spot, basically climbing the next rung up the ladder, if you will. Remember: these are clean magic numbers (no tiebreakers assumed).

Playoff spot: CLINCHED

1st wild card: CLINCHED

2nd in Central, home ice in first round: 3 (-3 from Monday)

Win Central Division: 11 (-2)

1st in Western Conference: 12 (-2)

Presidents’ Trophy: 17 (-2)

Tracking the tracker

We’ve been linking to past articles to show how things have changed, but we’re far enough along to provide more of a graphical view of how things have unfolded this month:

That first-round home ice number’s really shrinking now.
Chris Brooks

Tuesday’s rooting interests (All game times Central)

There’s 11 games on Tuesday, weird since the Predators aren’t involved. But plenty to peruse.

Playoff interests

Dallas @ Washington (6 p.m.): If one goal is to to keep the Ducks out of the playoffs, then somebody outside the current top eight has to take their place. Going to be hard for the Stars to do that without the services of Ben Bishop the next couple of weeks.

Colorado @ Chicago (7:30 p.m.): Is this the night the Hawks officially bite the dust?

New Jersey @ San Jose (9:30 p.m.): We’re going to keep an eye on the Sharks to see if they could move up, but it’ll take a lot to get them out of second in the Pacific.

Central interests

Los Angeles @ Winnipeg (7 p.m.): The Kings can do the Preds a couple of more favors, namely pushing the number for the Central title down, plus jump back into the Pacific’s top three and help push the Ducks out. Let’s just hope that the bill doesn’t come due in April.

Top seeding interests

Toronto @ Tampa Bay (6:30 p.m.): Bolts gonna give Vas a rest or nah? Not like we care, but the question’s got to be asked. Maple Leafs can push the Preds closer to the Presidents’ Trophy.

Vancouver @ Vegas (9 p.m.): The Golden Knights have barely broken even in the last 10 games. Perhaps the Canucks can deal them another bad beat.

Games of no consequence

Pittsburgh @ N.Y. Islanders (6 p.m.): The Penguins are two points out of the Metro lead - and four points clear of a wild-card spot. Would be nice to see the Isles push them back a bit.

Columbus @ N.Y. Rangers (6 p.m.): Speaking of that wild card, the Blue Jackets have it. Whatever playoff life the Rangers have left is nearly gone.

Edmonton @ Carolina (6 p.m.): This isn’t 2006.

Florida @ Ottawa (6:30 p.m.): The Panthers are trying to hang on to the East’s wild card race, and they’ll need this one to keep pace.

Philadelphia @ Detroit (6:30 p.m.): Flyers are four points out of that wacky race for the Metro title.

More goodies

Sports Club Stats does a great job of breaking down the percentages of where teams will finish and who they could play in the postseason. Check it out here.

Hockey Reference gives you more numbers to peruse, and it can be found here.


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