Push for the Playoffs: Blues looking to leap over Predators

Push for the Playoffs will run every morning through the end of the 2018-19 NHL season. We’ll highlight the current playoff picture in both conferences, take a look at what the first-round matchups might look like, see who’s leading the race for the best odds in the draft lottery and more.

So here we are. There’s only a handful of days left in the season, and the Central Division picture isn’t any clearer than it was a week ago. The St. Louis Blues have an opportunity to make it even more cloudy, as they’ll get to play their game in hand on the Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators tonight.

If the Blues beat the Chicago Blackhawks in any fashion, they’ll tie the Jets and Predators with 96 points, but they’d jump ahead of Nashville because they’d own the tie-breaker (if the Blues win in a shootout, they’d be tied in points and ROW but the Blues have more head-to-head points).

Since their 2-0 loss in Ottawa on Mar. 14, St. Louis has been on a roll. They’ve taken down playoff teams like Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Vegas, and Colorado. And, overall, they’ve rattled off seven wins in their last nine contests (7-1-1). Their only regulation loss came against the Rangers in New York.

So, as we mentioned before, a Blues victory tonight would bring all all three of the top Central Division teams at 96 points. The Jets have the most ROW, the Blues would be second and the Predators would be third. After tonight, here’s how each team’s schedule would look:

Jets: Thursday at Colorado, Saturday at Arizona
Blues: Thursday vs. Philadelphia, Saturday vs. Vancouver
Predators: Thursday vs. Vancouver, Saturday vs. Chicago

This division is still very much up for grabs.

TODAY’S GAMES WITH PLAYOFF CONTENDERS
Blues at Blackhawks, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN, live stream)
Flames at Ducks, 10:30 p.m. ET

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via Hockey Reference)
Lightning — Clinched
Bruins — Clinched
Capitals — Clinched
Islanders —  Clinched
Maple Leafs — Clinched
Penguins — 98.9 percent
Hurricanes — 86.4 percent
Blue Jackets — 72.3 percent
Canadiens — 42.4 percent
Flyers — Eliminated
Panthers — Eliminated
Sabres — Eliminated
Rangers — Eliminated
Devils — Eliminated
Red Wings — Eliminated
Senators — Eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via Hockey Reference)

Flames — Clinched
Jets — Clinched
Sharks — Clinched
Predators — Clinched
Blues — Clinched
Golden Knights — Clinched
Stars — Clinched
Avalanche — 97.7 percent
Coyotes — 2.3 percent
Wild — Eliminated
Blackhawks — Eliminated
Oilers — Eliminated
Canucks — Eliminated
Ducks — Eliminated
Kings — Eliminated

JACK OR KAAPO? THE DRAFT LOTTERY PICTURE

Senators — 18.5 percent*
Kings — 13.5 percent
Devils — 11.5 percent
Sabres — 9.5 percent
Red Wings — 8.5 percent
Rangers — 7.5 percent
Ducks — 6.5 percent
Oilers – 6 percent
Canucks — 5 percent
Blackhawks — 3.5 percent
Flyers — 3 percent
Wild — 2.5 percent
Panthers — 2 percent
Coyotes — 1.5 percent
Canadiens — 1 percent
(*COL owns OTT’s 2019 first-round pick)

ART ROSS RACE

Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning — 125 points
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers — 115 points
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks — 105 points
Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers — 102 points
Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins — 100 points

ROCKET RICHARD RACE

Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals — 51 goals
Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers — 47 goals
John Tavares, Toronto Maple Leafs — 47 goals
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning — 43 goals
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks — 41 goals
Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks — 41 goals
Cam Atkinson, Columbus Blue Jackets — 41 goals
Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning — 41 goals
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers — 41 goals

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

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