2012 NHL Playoffs: Sunday Scoreboard Watching For The Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres have officially gotten themselves into the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference and now they have some scoreboard watching to do before the next game against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night. For those who haven't seen the latest conference standings, here they are:

Eastern Standings

New York Rangers 75 47-21-7 101
Boston Bruins 74 43-28-3 89
Florida Panthers 74 36-24-14 86
Pittsburgh Penguins 74 46-22-6 98
Philadelphia Flyers 75 44-23-8 96
New Jersey Devils 75 42-27-6 90
Ottawa Senators 76 38-28-10 86
Buffalo Sabres 76 37-29-10 84
Washington Capitals 75 37-30-8 82
Winnipeg Jets 75 35-32-8 78
Tampa Bay Lightning 74 34-33-7 75
Carolina Hurricanes 76 30-31-15 75
Toronto Maple Leafs 76 33-34-9 75
New York Islanders 74 30-33-11 71
Montreal Canadiens 76 29-34-13 71

There are seven games on the schedule today in the NHL and two of those games have some sort of impact on the Sabres playoff chances.

Minnesota Wild vs. Washington Capitals

When: 5:00 pm NBC Sports Network

Effect: Washington win decreases chance of making playoffs by 5.1%, Minnesota win increases chance of making playoffs by 11.5%

The major game Sabres fans are going to be keeping an eye on is the tilt between the Minnesota Wild and Washington Capitals. The Wild are a team that Sabres fans are familiar with after Buffalo beat them 3-1 on Saturday night. The Wild are essentially trying to play the role of spoiler as they are 14 points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference and have the league's worst offense with 159 goals scored.

The Capitals are coming off a 4-3 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night and they got some good news as forward Nicklas Backstrom was cleared to return to practice after missing the last 37 games with a concussion. Backstrom is still a ways away from returning back to game shape, but his presence will probably give the team some sort of boost.

New York Islanders vs. Florida Panthers

When: 5:00 pm

Effect: Islanders win increases chance of making playoffs 1.7%, Panthers win decreases chance of making playoffs .8%

The Florida Panthers are still leading the Southeast Division with 86 points and still have a game in hand on the Washington Capitals. But, if the Capitals are able to leap the Panthers for the division lead, the Sabres still have to keep an eye on the Panthers for time being.

The Panthers have lost their last two games to the Carolina Panthers Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers by scoring only one goal in each of those games. The offensive struggle for the Panthers has been around for a while as they have only scored three or more goals four times in the month of March and one of those was the shootout charity goal in their win over the Sabres.

The Islanders are coming off a 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night which saw Steven Stamkos score his 51st and 52nd goals of the season. With Al Montoya in net for the Islanders last night, probably expect Evgeni Nabokov to start in net for New York. Nabokov is 4-3-1 in his career against the Florida Panthers with a 2.72 goals against average and .912 save percentage.

With the Capitals/Wild game being a nationally televised game, we will have an open thread for the game starting at 5:00 pm.