This is going to be a much more frequent feature over the next two weeks. With only about 10 games to play per team, the playoff bubble is quickly shrinking.
Blues - WTF? These guys were out of contention by training camp, and were pronounced "DEAD" on the very first Death Watch in January. Since then they've been winning 3 out of every 4 games, and are now only a single victory away from the 8th seed. Their 3-game series against Columbus will have the atmosphere of the tournament in "Bloodsport".
Kings - They've been tenacious, but the clock is running out. Their next 4 games -- Blues, Stars, Preds, Stars -- are all must-wins. After that it's a home-and-home against Phoenix. That stretch will either make or break LA's season.
Sabres - It's been tough to watch this train wreck after such a spunky season from Buffalo. A 1-5-1 stretch in March is poison, especially when it involves two losses to Ottawa. This week's games against Florida and Montreal are a last-chance opportunity for the slumping Sabres.
Stars - Yeah, they're only 3 points out of the 8th seed. But the Stars have an unfavorable schedule and just lost Brad Richards. They're already staring up the bracket at 4 other bubble teams, so there is almost no room for error as this team tries to right its losing streak.
Panthers - This might be one of the NHL's best stories of the season, but also its most under-reported. GM Jacques Martin made an incredibly ballsy move at the trade deadline by not dealing Bouwmeester, gambling that the Panthers could make the playoffs and possibly convince their stud defenseman to give it another year or three in Miami. Today the Cats are only a point behind Montreal for that precious 8th seed.
Predators - If the most under-reported story isn't the Panthers, maybe the Preds deserve that title. Quietly, they're on an 8-2-3 streak that's got them in the 8th seed... for now. Nashville, virtually devoid of marquee players and led by obscurities like JP Dumont and Pekka Rinne, has a brutal schedule down the stretch.
Ducks - It's time for someone to be a hero in Anaheim, which fights for its playoff life tomorrow night in Nashville. The Ducks are on a mini-streak (3-0-0) but are one of the league's least consistent teams. Anaheim has to avoid the too-predictable losing streak, or they're going to be done in short order.
Wild - Hobbled by injuries, the Wild are going to count on Marian Gaborik's return to spark them into the playoffs. An ill-timed road trip and a schedule full of desperate teams won't make it any easier for Minnesota, who will need a good push to overcome the other Western bubble teams.