NHL playoff watch: The state of the Western wild-card race

NHL playoff watch: The state of the Western wild-card race
Apr 3, 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.

With less than four weeks left in the NHL’s 2021-22 regular season, one of the more tantalizing playoff races is for the second wild card in the Western Conference. Heading into Sunday’s games, the Dallas Stars are one point ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights, with both teams taking the ice tonight. FiveThirtyEight gives the Stars an 89% chance of making the playoffs, while the Knights have a 51% chance.

The Golden Knights are up first, heading to Vancouver to take on a Canucks squad that isn’t entirely out of the wild-card mix either. In fact, this will be the first of three games against the Canucks in pretty quick succession; after tonight, they’ll play again Wednesday, then again April 12. The prior game this season between the two clubs was an offensive onslaught by the Knights, as they won 7-4 back on Nov. 13.

As for the Stars, the team they’ll face is not in the wild-card mix, and in fact, the Seattle Kraken are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention as of this past week. The Stars had the Kraken’s proverbial number in a Jan. 12 game, taking home two points via a 5-2 win. But hey, this is the second night of a back-to-back for the visiting Stars, so maybe we’ll get a surprise.

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 Los Angeles Kings vs. P3 Edmonton Oilers

Sunday’s games

Note: All times Eastern. All out-of-market, non-NHL Network and non-TNT games available on ESPN+

Florida Panthers at Buffalo Sabres, 1 p.m.
Detroit Red Wings at Ottawa Senators, 1 p.m.
New York Islanders at New Jersey Devils, 4 p.m. (TNT)
Philadelphia Flyers at New York Rangers, 7 p.m. (NHLN)
Minnesota Wild at Washington Capitals, 7 p.m. (NHLN)
Arizona Coyotes at Chicago Blackhawks, 7 p.m.
Vegas Golden Knights at Vancouver Canucks, 7 p.m.
Edmonton Oilers at Anaheim Ducks, 8 p.m.
Dallas Stars at Seattle Kraken, 9 p.m.

Saturday night’s scoreboard

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

Florida Panthers 7, New Jersey Devils 6 (OT)
Colorado Avalanche 3, Pittsburgh Penguins 2
Boston Bruins 5, Columbus Blue Jackets 2
Montreal Canadiens 5, Tampa Bay Lightning 4 (SO)
Toronto Maple Leafs 6, Philadelphia Flyers 3
Minnesota Wild 3, Carolina Hurricanes 1
Los Angeles Kings 3, Winnipeg Jets 2
St. Louis Blues 6, Calgary Flames 4
Dallas Stars 5, San Jose Sharks 4

Expanded standings

Atlantic Division

Points: 100
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: A1
Games left: 14
Next game: @ BUF (Sunday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 93
Regulation wins: 38
Playoff position: A2
Games left: 14
Next game: @ TB (Monday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 93
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: A3
Games left: 14
Next game: vs. TOR (Monday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

1 Related

Points: 91
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 14
Next game: @ CBJ (Monday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 61
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 13
Next game: vs. FLA (Sunday)
Playoff chances: Tragic number: 4

Points: 61
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Next game: @ OTT (Sunday)
Playoff chances: Tragic number: 5

Points: 54
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 15
Next game: vs. DET (Sunday)
Playoff chances: Tragic number: 1

Points: 49
Regulation wins: 13
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 13
Next game: vs. OTT (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Metropolitan Division

Points: 98
Regulation wins: 39
Playoff position: M1
Games left: 13
Next game: @ BUF (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 93
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: M2
Games left: 13
Next game: vs. PHI (Sunday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 92
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: M3
Games left: 12
Next game: vs. COL (Tuesday)
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: 84
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 14
Next game: vs. MIN (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 98%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 71
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 15
Next game: @ NJ (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 2%
Tragic number: 17

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 22
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 13
Next game: vs. BOS (Monday)
Playoff chances: Tragic number: 11

Points: 54
Regulation wins: 16
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Next game: vs. NYI (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 53
Regulation wins: 17
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Next game: @ NYR (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Central Division

Points: 104
Regulation wins: 41
Playoff position: C1
Games left: 13
Next game: @ PIT (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 89
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: C2
Games left: 15
Next game: @ WSH (Sunday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 86
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: C3
Games left: 14
Next game: vs. ARI (Monday)
Playoff chances: 99%
Tragic number: N/A

1 Related

Points: 82
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 14
Next game: vs. MIN (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 87%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 15
Next game: @ SEA (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 89%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 12
Next game: vs. DET (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 2%
Tragic number: 19

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 13
Next game: vs. ARI (Sunday)
Playoff chances: Tragic number: 3

Points: 47
Regulation wins: 16
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Next game: @ CHI (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Pacific Division

Points: 89
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: P1
Games left: 14
Next game: @ LA (Monday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 86
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: P2
Games left: 11
Next game: vs. CGY (Monday)
Playoff chances: 88%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 83
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: P3
Games left: 13
Next game: @ ANA (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 82%
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: 80
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 12
Next game: @ VAN (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 51%
Tragic number: 23

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 13
Next game: vs. VGK (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 3%
Tragic number: 18

Points: 68
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 12
Next game: vs. EDM (Sunday)
Playoff chances: Tragic number: 11

Points: 66
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Next game: vs. EDM (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: Tragic number: 13

Points: 48
Regulation wins: 18
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Next game: vs. DAL (Sunday)
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: 47
Regulation wins: 16

Points: 48
Regulation wins: 18

Points: 49
Regulation wins: 13

Points: 53
Regulation wins: 17

Points: 54
Regulation wins: 16

Points: 54
Regulation wins: 20

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 15

Points: 61
Regulation wins: 15

Points: 61
Regulation wins: 19

Points: 66
Regulation wins: 20

Points: 68
Regulation wins: 19

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 22

Points: 71
Regulation wins: 29

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 26

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 26

Points: 80
Regulation wins: 31

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