NHL playoffs standings update: Phoenix eyes top spot

We’re getting near the part of the season where every game involves a heavy dose of scoreboard watching. Teams not only need their two points, but some help from other teams to either grab a playoff spot or take a better playoff position headed into the post season. We’re going to start updating the playoff picture daily here on Pro Hockey Talk, starting today as we gear up for matchup between the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers, two teams fighting for the final spot in the East.

After the jump, the standings of the Eastern and Western conferences, as well as some thoughts on each.

Western Conference

DIV GP W L OT Pts GF GA DIFF Home Away L10 Streak
Chicago Blackhawks
CEN 71 45 19 7 97 234 179 +55 26-7-3 19-12-4 4-4-2  
San Jose Sharks
PAC 71 43 18 10 96 231 187 +44 22-6-8 21-12-2 3-6-1 Lost 4
Vancouver Canucks
NW 72 44 24 4 92 236 187 +49 26-8-2 18-16-2 6-2-2  
Phoenix Coyotes
PAC 72 45 22 5 95 198 177 +21 26-10-2 19-12-3 8-2-0 Won 8
Los Angeles Kings
PAC 70 41 24 5 87 207 185 +22 20-12-3 21-12-2 5-4-1 Won 1
Nashville Predators
CEN 72 41 26 5 87 203 201 +2 21-12-2 20-14-3 7-3-0 Won 5
Colorado Avalanche
NW 70 40 24 6 86 211 185 +26 22-11-2 18-13-4 5-5-0 Lost 1
Detroit Red Wings
CEN 71 35 23 13 83 193 192 +1 19-10-5 16-13-8 7-2-1 Won 1
Calgary Flames
NW 71 36 26 9 81 181 177 +4 18-16-3 18-10-6 7-3-0 Won 2
St Louis Blues
CEN 71 34 28 9 77 194 196 -2 12-17-5 22-11-4 7-3-0 Won 2
Dallas Stars
PAC 71 31 27 13 75 206 227 -21 20-10-6 11-17-7 3-6-1 Won 1


There are three big races right now, that will have a major impact on the playoff picture in the West. First, the Chicago Blackhawks have been able to — somehow — overcome the San Jose Sharks for the lead in the conference. Thanks to the Sharks’ unseemly losing streak, they’ve opened the door for a three-way battle for tops in the West that includes…. the Phoenix Coyotes.

Yes, the franchise and team that was the laughing stock of the sports world last summer has now snuck into the picture for the No. 1 seed in the West, riding an incredible eight-game winning streak. A win today against the Dallas Stars — coupled with a San Jose loss to Edmonton — and the Coyotes could find themselves in first place in the West. Incredible.

The other race is towards the bottom of the conference, with the Detroit Red Wings trying to hold off the Calgary Flames. Mathematically, this is the closest race but they also have St. Louis and Dallas still within shooting distance as well. The Stars are too inconsistent to put together the sort of streak needed to be considered seriously, but a losing streak of any kind by those above them and it’s certainly a possibility. The Red Wings have a chance to open up their lead today, as they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Eastern Conference

DIV GP W L OT Pts GF GA DIFF Home Away L10 Streak
Washington Capitals
SE 72 48 14 10 106 283 203 +80 26-4-4 22-10-6 7-1-2 Won 1
Pittsburgh Penguins
ATL 72 42 24 6 90 224 205 +19 21-10-4 21-14-2 6-2-2  
Buffalo Sabres
NE 70 38 22 10 86 195 177 +18 21-9-6 17-13-4 5-4-1 Won 2
New Jersey Devils
ATL 71 42 25 4 88 189 169 +20 24-10-1 18-15-3 5-4-1 Lost 1
Philadelphia Flyers
ATL 71 37 29 5 79 211 196 +15 21-12-2 16-17-3 4-4-2 Lost 1
Ottawa Senators
NE 72 37 30 5 79 194 212 -18 23-10-4 14-20-1 2-7-1 Lost 5
Montréal Canadiens
NE 72 36 29 7 79 196 198 -2 18-13-4 18-16-3 7-2-1  
Boston Bruins
NE 70 31 27 12 74 174 180 -6 14-14-6 17-13-6 4-5-1 Lost 1
Atlanta Thrashers
SE 71 31 29 11 73 215 229 -14 18-13-5 13-16-6 4-5-1 Won 3
New York Rangers
ATL 71 31 31 9 71 185 195 -10 15-17-6 16-14-3 4-4-2 Lost 2
Carolina Hurricanes
SE 71 30 33 8 68 198 221 -23 19-14-3 11-19-5 6-3-1 Won 2


Currently, the Washington Capitals are the only team that’s locked up a division title, but the Sabres have a good firm grasp on their lead in the Northeast division; I doubt the Ottawa Senators are going to go off on any sort of winning streak anytime soon. The Capitals also have a good firm lockdown on the No. 1 spot in the conference.

There are still some good races to keep an eye on. The Penguins, thanks to an overtime loss to the Hurricanes yesterday, have opened up a shot for the New Jersey Devils to take over the lead in the Atlantic division, although New Jersey was shutout yesterday against St. Louis as they failed to take advantage of Pittsburgh’s slip. Neither team plays today.

Finally, we have the most intriguing race in the NHL. Everyone’s attention has been on the battle between New York and Boston for 8th in the conference, all the while the Atlanta Thrashers have snuck into the picture and threaten to knock both out of the playoffs. The Rangers and Bruins have been amazing to watch, as they’ve stumbled and struggled to even muster a fight when the opportunity arises to make a move.

Don’t take your eyes off the Ottawa Senators, however. They’re historic fall could take them out of the playoffs, opening up the chance for two of the Atlanta, New York and Boston trio to make the playoffs. And then, most likely, get promptly ousted by the Washington Capitals.

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    Patrick Kane’s streak hits 19 games, setting a new American record

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    When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.

    With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).

    As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.

    Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.

    So, how would you protect a lead against the Stars?


    You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.

    Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.

    “Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?

    Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.

    Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.

    It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.

    Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.

    On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?

    It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?

    * – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.

    Price paid: Devils come back against Condon, Canadiens

    Mike Condon, John Moore,
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    If nothing else, the New Jersey Devils seem like they won’t be the sort of team a contender can essentially mark off as a “W” on their calendars.

    The Montreal Canadiens may not be in a position to take opponents lightly with Carey Price on the shelf, but whatever the case may be, they saw their four-game winning streak end in frustrating fashion on Saturday.

    After falling behind 2-0, the Devils scrapped their way back into it, eventually riding a John Moore overtime goal to a 3-2 OT win.

    If Montreal needs an obvious bright side to look on considering this hiccup, Alex Galchenyuk‘s hot weekend may be a good thing to look at.

    Tonight’s loss may smart a bit anyway, however.

    Metro’s best? Capitals keep winning, pass Rangers for division lead

    Jonathan Bernier; Matt Niskanen; Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau

    If you want to summarize the Capitals – Maple Leafs game in one sentence, you could do worse than:

    “Washington is hot as Jonathan Bernier is cold.”

    The Caps reeled off a 4-2 win against Toronto on Saturday, giving them five straight wins. They also jumped into first place in the Metropolitan Division today, as they keep climbing while the New York Rangers are experiencing some growing pains.

    Again, James Reimer can’t get healthy and back in Toronto’s net too soon:

    With this win, Washington is now 17-5-1, leading the Metro by one point with 35 standings points. They also hold a game in hand against the Rangers, and no other Metro team even has 30 right now.

    Measuring stick stretch begins

    Tonight’s game began a “prove-it” month-and-change for Washington.

    This contest began a three-game road trip, and they’ll also play six of seven away from Washington.

    It’s pretty rough through the start of 2016, really. The Capitals will only enjoy three home games through Jan. 9.

    In other words, the Capitals seem like a convincing East contender, but look out if they remain hot through the next 5-6 weeks.