NHL Playoff picture after Sunday: Flames win West; Movement in East

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For the final week of the 2018-19 NHL regular season we will take an updated look at the Stanley Cup Playoff picture — what the standings look like, the potential matchups, who clinched, and set the stage for Monday’s biggest games.

On Sunday, the Flames clinched both the Pacific Division title and the top spot in the West overall. With Calgary confirmed as the number one seed in the Pacific, we get an official playoff matchup: San Jose Sharks (two seed) vs. Vegas Golden Knights (three seed). Yes, that is indeed very exciting.

Those ended up being the only clinching moments, but there was significant movement in the East, with Pittsburgh beating Carolina and Columbus smoking the Sabres. Pittsburgh remains in the third Metro spot, while Columbus takes the first wild-card spot, seeing Carolina drop to the second wild card — for now.


X – Clinched Playoff Spot, Y – Clinched Division, Z – Clinched Conference

Sunday’s playoff clinchers

  • Nothing new clinching-wise in the East, but the lower ranks of the playoff standings shuffled.
  • Pittsburgh beat Carolina in regulation, putting them in the driver’s seat to lock down the Metro’s third seed.
  • Columbus battered Buffalo in regulation, so with Carolina producing zero points, the Blue Jackets leapt to the first wild-card spot on Sunday.
  • Carolina’s loss pushes them to the final wild-card spot, and leaves the idle Canadiens only back one point, with both teams down to three games remaining apiece. Is it all because the Hurricanes killed the “Storm Surge?” (Checks earpiece) Scientifically? Yes.


X – Clinched Playoff Spot, Y – Clinched Division, Z – Clinched Conference

Sunday’s playoff clinchers

  • The Flames clinched the Pacific Division, and also the top spot in the West.
  • With that, it’s Sharks – Golden Knights in the first round.
  • The Coyotes won, so the Stars will have to wait to clinch.

SUNDAY’S SCORES
New York Rangers 3, Philadelphia Flyers 0 (more)
Arizona Coyotes 4, Minnesota Wild 0 (more)
Pittsburgh Penguins 3, Carolina Hurricanes 1
Columbus Blue Jackets 4, Buffalo Sabres 0
Detroit Red Wings 6, Boston Bruins 3 (more)
Calgary Flames 5, San Jose Sharks 3

IF THE PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY
Lightning vs. Hurricanes
Capitals vs. Blue Jackets
Islanders vs. Penguins
Bruins vs. Maple Leafs

Flames vs. Avalanche
Jets vs. Stars
Sharks vs. Golden Knights — series matchup clinched
Predators vs. Blues

MONDAY’S BIGGEST GAMES

Washington Capitals at Florida Panthers (7 p.m. ET): The Panthers are already out, so they’ll try to spoil Washington’s bid to really lock down the Metro title. The Capitals have won four games in a row, and with Alex Ovechkin already beyond the 50-goal mark, locking down the top spot might just give them the leeway

Maple Leafs at New York Islanders (7 p.m. ET): The Maple Leafs don’t have much of a chance to take the second seed in the Atlantic from Boston, and the Isles face a tough challenge in trying to win the Metro from Washington, but both teams are in the hunt enough that this game holds some relevance. Oh yeah, and it’s not like emotions will be stagnant; a certain John Tavares is once again set to get a very warm welcome from Islanders fans on Monday.

Colorado Avalanche at St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN): The Avs beat the Coyotes via a shootout on Friday, so they have some breathing room, but Arizona made sure that Colorado cannot just mosey into the last stretch of the season. The Avs’ edge is one standings point and one game in hand on Arizona, so losing here – particularly in regulation – would really hurt. The Blues have a ton of motivation, too, as they have a shot at winning the Central Division outright if they continue their hot streak. This should be a heated one on NBCSN.

Winnipeg Jets at Chicago Blackhawks (8:30 p.m. ET): With 94 standings points, the Jets have a two-point edge on the Blues, while they hold a game in hand over Nashville. That’s not a large margin of error for the Central Division title. They’ll be facing a Blackhawks team with very, very slim playoff hopes, so expect desperation from Jonathan Toews & Co.

Edmonton Oilers at Vegas Golden Knights (10 p.m. ET): The Golden Knights are locked in to the third seed, and might be wise to rest some players. The Edmonton Oilers’ hopes are even slimmer than Chicago’s, so they’ll be desperate … but they’re also kind of a mess.

Then again, aren’t we all?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.