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Playoffs? Playoffs!?

JimmoraAh, the Panthers were in fine spirits Saturday morning. They awoke to a beautiful spring day in South Florida, and by the looks of the standings, they are only four points out with four games left.

Could looks actually be deceiving?

The Panthers, while reinvigorated, still need a miracle. They have five teams they have to jump (the New Yorks, Montreal, Toronto and Carolina) because even if they win all four of their remaining games, they'll only have 38 wins. The first tie-breaker is total wins, and Toronto already has 37. Montreal? 40. The Rangers are at 39. So, Florida not only has to get to eighth place, they have to be in sole possession of it.

Long shot indeed.Horserace

But, at least things remain interesting down the stretch.

The Panthers are at least having some kind of a say in what teams make the playoffs even if they do not themselves. Looks like Tampa Bay is in right now, but the Panthers can keep the Hurricanes out with wins in their final two meetings of the season.

Talked to Ed Belfour today -- seriously -- and he knows the reality of things are the Panthers are running out of games. But he adds there's nothing they can do now but win. Looking back at a few wins that got away in November won't do them any good, although they sure would have helped right now.

Didn't we say that last year?

-- Eddie starts in net again Sunday. And if they win, he'll probably go Tuesday in Washington.

-- Home finale Sunday afternoon. Early start (5 p.m.) and plenty of giveaways. Might even have some leftover bobbleheads. Who knows.

-- Peltonen missed practice today after leaving yesterday's game early because of stomach-flu type symptoms.

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