If the Playoffs Started Today: Crunch Time

We're officially in scoreboard watching territory. Here are the most recent matchups, probabilities and happenings around the NHL as the postseason nears.

Here are the postseason matchups if the playoffs started today, along with the probability these matchup actually happen. Probabilities courtesy of hockeystats.ca, and are current as of publish time:

Eastern Conference

Montreal Canadiens (106) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (95) - 37.7%

Tampa Bay Lightning (104) vs. Boston Bruins (95) - 39.6%

New York Rangers (109) vs. Detroit Red Wings (95) - 27.9%

Washington Capitals (99) vs. New York Islanders (98) - 75.3%

Western Conference

Anaheim Ducks (107) vs. Winnipeg Jets (94) - 47.7%

St. Louis Blues (105) vs. Minnesota Wild (96) - 37.7%

Nashville Predators (104) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (102) - 66.5%

Vancouver Canucks (99) vs. Calgary Flames (93) - 41.8.3%

Bubble Teams

Los Angeles Kings (93) - 69.9% chance to make playoffs.

Ottawa Senators (93) - 27.5% chance to make playoffs.

Recent Happenings

Over the weekend, Washington became the most recent team to clinch a playoff spot, thanks to a win against Detroit and an Ottawa shootout loss. The race in the East has become must-watch TV, as the Wings, Bruins and Penguins are all tied with 95 points, and Ottawa is just behind with 93.

In the West, the Kings and Jets have been leap-frogging each other almost every night for that last Wild Card spot. Winnipeg has the edge in points right now, thanks to a win against Minnesota last night, but the Kings have drawn even with the Flames (though Calgary has the tiebreaker.) This sets up what could be a play-in type game on Thursday.

Do we have to go into detail about St. Louis and Chicago, and how the Preds are currently no longer on top of the Central? It kind of hurts to talk about.

Games to Watch

Almost every game has playoff implications in some way, shape or form, but these are the ones that should grab your attention:

Pittsburgh @ Ottawa - 6:30 p.m.: This is a must-win for each team. If Ottawa has any hope of keeping their miraculous run going, they have to defeat the Penguins in regulation. Pittsburgh is in danger of falling out of the playoff race entirely. Can you imagine a playoff season without Sidney Crosby?

Winnipeg @ St. Louis - 8:00 p.m.: Go Jets.

Minnesota @ Chicago - 8:30 p.m.: Go Wild.

The Central

As Jason pointed out earlier today, both teams playing Chicago and St. Louis played last night. They played each other, in fact. That doesn't automatically mean each are going to win, but it doesn't fill anyone with a sense of confidence, either. All Nashville can worry about is beating Colorado, however. Take care of business, and tomorrow we can reevaluate. If they don't...