If the Playoffs Started Today: Race for the Central
We're officially in scoreboard watching territory. Here are the most recent matchups, probabilities and happenings around the NHL as the postseason nears.
There are nine days and less than a hundred total games left in the 2014-2015 NHL season, but plenty left to be decided. Only five teams have clinched a playoff spot so far and, while majority of the teams have been on the path to the postseason for weeks, their actual seeding is very much uncertain.
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:
Montreal Canadiens (102) vs. Washington Capitals (94) - 21.7%
Tampa Bay Lightning (101) vs. Detroit Red Wings (93) - 57.0%
New York Rangers (103) vs. Boston Bruins (91) - 41.8%
New York Islanders (95) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (95) - 50.6%
Nashville Predators (103) vs. Minnesota Wild (95) - 44.8%
St. Louis Blues (99) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (98) - 53.2%
Anaheim Ducks (107) vs. Winnipeg Jets (90) - 52.9%
Vancouver Canucks (95) vs. Calgary Flames (91) - 50.3%
Los Angeles Kings (88) - 68.9% chance to make playoffs.
Ottawa Senators (88) - 29.2% chance to make playoffs.
San Jose Sharks (85) - 1.7% chance to make playoffs.
Florida Panthers (85) - 1% chance to make playoffs.
The Ducks became the first team to clinch their division with a win against the Edmonton Oilers last night. They increased their lead in the President's Trophy race to 5 points ahead of the Rangers.
On Monday, the Bolts were the most recent team to clinch a playoff berth when they swept the season series against Montreal. The Kings' hopes took a hit with a loss against Chicago, while Vancouver and Calgary kept winning.
Also, keep an eye on the Jets as they are likely to lose Dustin Byfuglien for (hopefully) a while. They have a tenuous hold on the last Wild Card spot, only two points ahead of the Kings who have a game in hand.
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:
Washington @ Montreal - 6:30 p.m.: A potential first-round matchup, the Capitals are only one point behind the Isles and Pens for a division spot. With a Caps win and an Islanders regulation loss, the Caps will vault into the second spot in the Metropolitan. The Canadiens are still trying to clinch the Atlantic.
Tampa Bay @ Ottawa - 6:30 p.m.: The Senators are in must-win mode from here on out as they chase Boston for the final berth in the East. They need the two points and a Bruins regulation loss.
Boston @ Detroit - 6:30 p.m.: Not only could the Bruins land a significant blow to Ottawa's hopes and dreams, but they can catch the Red Wings in the standings tonight as well. A regulation win would put them each at 93 points, though Detroit has a game in hand. Still, Boston was temporarily out of the playoff picture, and now could conceivably end with a division spot. Detroit is seeing what a super-late season malaise can do to a team.
*Calgary @ St. Louis - 7 p.m.: One of the Blues' game in hands on the Preds. A win brings them closer to the top of the Central, a loss does not. It's that simple.
*Vancouver @ Chicago - 7:30 p.m.: Let's see if the Canucks attempt to injure anyone in the Windy City. The Hawks are only one point behind St. Louis, and still very much in contention for the Central for now.
Edmonton @ Los Angeles - 9:30 p.m.: It should be an easy two points for LA, but the Oilers have been playing much better of late. If the Kings have any hope of catching the Jets, they need the win.
The Central division is very much in reach for Nashville, but St. Louis and Chicago can still hop over them. As of today the Predators and Blues can each attain 111 points, while the Hawks can get 110. Here's what you need to know: if the Predators run the table on their last four games, they win the Central. Even if the Blues do as well, Nashville holds all the tie breakers.
At this point, any points lost by the Blues will put the Preds closer to their first banner.