If the Playoffs Started Today: The Lesser of Two Evils

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 (104) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (95) - 10.0%

Tampa Bay Lightning (104) vs. Detroit Red Wings (95) - 57.0%

New York Rangers (107) vs. Boston Bruins (95) - 41.8%

New York Islanders (98) vs. Washington Capitals (97) - 23.1%

Western Conference

Anaheim Ducks (107) vs. Los Angeles Kings (92) - 17.0%

Nashville Predators (104) vs. Minnesota Wild (96) - 44.8%

St. Louis Blues (103) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (102) - 53.2%

Vancouver Canucks (95) vs. Calgary Flames (93) - 50.3%

Bubble Teams

Winnipeg Jets (92) - 63.2% chance to make playoffs.

Ottawa Senators (92) - 29.2% chance to make playoffs.

Recent Happenings

No new teams have clinched a playoff berth since our last update, but both the Islanders and the Capitals are extremely close. The race in the East gets closer and closer every day, and Ottawa, Detroit and Boston all won their games in some fashion last night.

Los Angeles is still hanging on to that final Wild Card, but a win against the Canucks kept the Jets even. Both are only 1 point behind Calgary for a Pacific spot, and Calgary's last two games are against those teams.

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:

St. Louis @ Chicago - 6:30 p.m.: This is almost appointment viewing for Predators fans, except that no matter the outcome the Central division race is going to be extremely tight. Nashville needed to secure that extra point against Dallas last night, but the fact they got at least one could be big.

Ideally, Chicago defeats St. Louis in regulation, to draw even with the Preds, who own the tiebreaker for now. The next best scenario is a Chicago shootout win. Even though all three teams would have 104 points, neither would get a ROW, keeping Nashville's major tiebreaker safe.

Either way, a Blues win is the opposite of what you want. Go Hawks.

The Central

*points to section above*