NHL playoff watch: Appraising the Kings’ postseason chances

NHL playoff watch: Appraising the Kings' postseason chances
Apr 13, 2022

  • Tim KavanaghESPN.com

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      Tim Kavanagh is a senior NHL editor for ESPN. He’s a native of upstate New York.

As of the trade deadline on March 21, it appeared that the Los Angeles Kings had a reasonably safe spot in the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs. Things have gotten a lot muddier since then.

Since March 24, the club is 4-4-2, falling out of the No. 2 seed in the Pacific Division, and it is now in danger of being caught by the Vegas Golden Knights for the No. 3 seed; after last night’s action, L.A. holds a three-point edge over Vegas, though the latter has a game in hand and two more regulation wins.

While the Kings hold a 30-28 regulation-wins edge over the Dallas Stars for the second wild-card spot, the Stars have two games in hand (as do the Nashville Predators, currently in the first wild-card position). And for any remaining games on the 2021-22 slate, the Kings will be without veteran defenseman Drew Doughty, who has been out since March 10 and underwent wrist surgery; he hopes to be ready for training camp.

And so that sets the scene for Wednesday night’s matchup against the juggernaut Colorado Avalanche, a team that has beaten the Kings twice already this season (4-1 on Jan. 20 and 3-0 on March 15).

Sounds like tough sledding. But there is some hope! After Wednesday night’s game, the remaining six on the Kings’ schedule are against teams currently not in playoff position (the Columbus Blue Jackets, Chicago Blackhawks, Seattle Kraken, Vancouver Canucks and the Anaheim Ducks twice). Can they hold it together? According to the latest projections from FiveThirtyEight, the Kings have a 67% chance of making the playoffs.

As we enter the final stretch of the 2021-22 regular season, it’s time to check in on all the playoff races — along with the teams jockeying for position in the 2022 NHL draft lottery.

Note: Playoff chances are via FiveThirtyEight. Tragic numbers are courtesy of Damian Echevarrieta of the NHL.

Jump ahead:
Current playoff matchups
Today’s games
Last night’s scores
Expanded standings
Race for No. 1 pick

Current playoff matchups

Eastern Conference

A1 Florida Panthers vs. WC2 Washington Capitals
A2 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. A3 Tampa Bay Lightning
M1 Carolina Hurricanes vs. WC1 Boston Bruins
M2 New York Rangers vs. M3 Pittsburgh Penguins

Western Conference

C1 Colorado Avalanche vs. WC2 Dallas Stars
C2 Minnesota Wild vs. C3 St. Louis Blues
P1 Calgary Flames vs. WC1 Nashville Predators
P2 Edmonton Oilers vs. P3 Los Angeles Kings

Today’s games

Note: All times Eastern. All out-of-market, non-TNT games available to stream on ESPN+.

New York Rangers at Philadelphia Flyers, 7 p.m. (TNT)
Montreal Canadiens at Columbus Blue Jackets, 7 p.m.
Seattle Kraken at Winnipeg Jets, 8:30 p.m.
Los Angeles Kings at Colorado Avalanche, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)

Last night’s scoreboard

Watch In the Crease on ESPN+ for highlights from every game.

St. Louis Blues 4, Boston Bruins 2
Buffalo Sabres 5, Toronto Maple Leafs 2
Florida Panthers 3, Anaheim Ducks 2 (OT)
Carolina Hurricanes 4, New York Rangers 2
Washington Capitals 9, Philadelphia Flyers 2
Ottawa Senators 4, Detroit Red Wings 1
New York Islanders 5, Pittsburgh Penguins 4 (SO)
Minnesota Wild 5, Edmonton Oilers 1
Nashville Predators 1, San Jose Sharks 0 (OT)
Los Angeles Kings 5, Chicago Blackhawks 2
Calgary Flames 5, Seattle Kraken 3
Dallas Stars 1, Tampa Bay Lightning 0
Vancouver Canucks 5, Vegas Golden Knights 4 (OT)
New Jersey Devils 6, Arizona Coyotes 2

Expanded standings

Atlantic Division

Points: 110
Regulation wins: 38
Playoff position: A1
Games left: 9
Next game: vs. WPG (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 100
Regulation wins: 40
Playoff position: A2
Games left: 9
Next game: vs. WSH (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 96
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: A3
Games left: 9
Next game: vs. ANA (Thursday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

2 Related

Points: 95
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 9
Next game: vs. OTT (Thursday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 66
Regulation wins: 17
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 9
Next game: @ CAR (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 65
Regulation wins: 21
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Next game: vs. STL (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 60
Regulation wins: 23
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 9
Next game: @ BOS (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 14
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 9
Next game: @ CBJ (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Metropolitan Division

Points: 104
Regulation wins: 42
Playoff position: M1
Games left: 8
Next game: vs. DET (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 100
Regulation wins: 39
Playoff position: M2
Games left: 8
Next game: @ PHI (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 95
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: M3
Games left: 7
Next game: vs. NYI (Thursday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

The 2021-22 NHL season is winding down towards the final day on April 29. Catch all the playoff races live on ESPN, ESPN+, ABC and Hulu.
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• Subscribe to ESPN+
• Stream the NHL on ESPN

Points: 92
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 9
Next game: @ TOR (Thursday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 10
Next game: @ PIT (Thursday)
Playoff chances: Tragic number: 5

Points: 74
Regulation wins: 23
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 9
Next game: vs. MTL (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: Tragic number: 1

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 18
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 9
Next game: @ COL (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 57
Regulation wins: 18
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 9
Next game: vs. NYR (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Central Division

Points: 110
Regulation wins: 42
Playoff position: C1
Games left: 10
Next game: vs. LA (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 96
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: C2
Games left: 10
Next game: @ DAL (Thursday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 96
Regulation wins: 39
Playoff position: C3
Games left: 9
Next game: @ BUF (Thursday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

This season will include 103 exclusive regular-season games across ESPN, ESPN+, Hulu and ABC, and more than 1,000 out-of-market games will be available on ESPN+.
• How to watch
• Subscribe to ESPN+
• Stream the NHL on ESPN

Points: 89
Regulation wins: 34
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 9
Next game: vs. EDM (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 96%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 88
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 9
Next game: vs. MIN (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 90%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Next game: @ FLA (Friday)
Playoff chances: Tragic number: 9

Points: 59
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 9
Next game: vs. SJ (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 49
Regulation wins: 16
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 9
Next game: @ VAN (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Pacific Division

Points: 99
Regulation wins: 40
Playoff position: P1
Games left: 9
Next game: vs. VGK (Thursday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 90
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: P2
Games left: 8
Next game: @ NSH (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 95%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 88
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: P3
Games left: 7
Next game: @ COL (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 67%
Tragic number: N/A

2 Related

Points: 85
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Next game: @ CGY (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 44%
Tragic number: 13

Points: 82
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Next game: vs. ARI (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 9%
Tragic number: 10

Points: 71
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Next game: @ TB (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 68
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 10
Next game: @ CHI (Thursday)
Playoff chances: Tragic number: 1

Points: 52
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 9
Next game: vs. NJ (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Race for the No. 1 pick

The NHL uses a draft lottery to determine the order at the top of the first round, so the team that finishes in last place is not guaranteed the No. 1 selection. As of 2021, a team may move up a maximum of 10 spots if it wins the lottery, so only 11 teams are eligible for the draw for the No. 1 pick. Full details on the process can be found here.

Points: 49
Regulation wins: 16

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 14

Points: 52
Regulation wins: 20

Points: 57
Regulation wins: 18

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 18

Points: 59
Regulation wins: 15

Points: 60
Regulation wins: 23

Points: 65
Regulation wins: 21

Points: 66
Regulation wins: 17

Points: 68
Regulation wins: 20

Points: 71
Regulation wins: 20

Points: 74
Regulation wins: 23

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 31

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 28

Points: 82
Regulation wins: 29

Points: 85
Regulation wins: 32

Notes on conditionally traded picks impacting the top 16:

  • Columbus will receive Chicago’s first-round pick if Chicago does not win either of the two draws in the 2022 draft lottery. Otherwise, the pick defers to 2023.

  • Buffalo will receive Vegas’ first-round pick if it is outside the top 10 selections. Otherwise, the pick defers to 2023.

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