Push for the Playoffs: Avalanche on verge of playoff berth

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.

The Colorado Avalanche seemed to be fading.

In December they were fighting for the Central Division lead. In January, they had lost ground on the Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators. And by February, they were flirting with last place in the division.

What made things worse was a surge that was starting from the St. Louis Blues and a Chicago Blackhawks team that would make a push of its own.

And then the scoring dried up. The team’s top line just wasn’t clicking at the same ridiculous rate that it had to start the year. Then, injuries hit. Gabriel Landeskog was ruled out for a month and Mikko Rantanen got hurt, too.

What could have spelled doom seemed to rally the Avs, who are 7-0-2 in their past nine games and on the verge of clinching a playoff berth on Thursday night.

Colorado (88 points, two games remaining) needs a point against the Winnipeg Jets at Pepsi Center to kill off the Arizona Coyotes (84 points, two games remaining), locking themselves up the second and final wildcard in the Western Conference.

Given Winnipeg’s recent struggles with desperate teams (and the Avs fit that criteria knowing a loss would make things quite interesting right down to Game 82), Colorado has as good a chance as any to beat their Central Division rivals and make a statement along with it heading into a likely first-round matchup against the Calgary Flames.

TODAY’S GAMES WITH PLAYOFF CONTENDERS
Lightning at Maple Leafs, 7 p.m. ET
Islanders at Panthers, 7 p.m. ET
Red Wings at Penguins, 7 p.m. ET
Canadiens at Capitals, 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Devils at Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET
Flyers at Blues, 8 p.m. ET
Canucks at Predators, 8 p.m. ET
Bruins at Wild, 8 p.m. ET
Jets at Avalanche, 9 p.m. ET
Sharks at Oilers, 9 p.m. ET
Coyotes at Golden Knights, 10 p.m. ET

TODAY’S CLINCHING SCENARIOS

The Washington Capitals will clinch the Metropolitan Division… 

  • If they win vs. Montreal; or
  • If they get one point against Montreal and the New York Islanders lose in any fashion; or
  • If the Islanders lose in regulation

The Pittsburgh Penguins will clinch a playoff berth…

  • If they win; or
  • If they get one point and either Montreal loses in any fashion or Carolina loses in regulation; or
  • If Montreal loses in regulation

The Carolina Hurricanes will clinch a playoff berth…

  • If they win in regulation or OT and Montreal loses in any fashion; or
  • If they win in a shootout and Montreal loses in regulation

The Winnipeg Jets will clinch the Central Division…

  • If they win against Colorado and both of the follow occur: Nashville loses in regulation and St. Louis loses in any fashion.

The Colorado Avalanche will clinch a playoff berth… 

  • If they get at least one point or Arizona loses in any fashion

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via Hockey Reference)
Lightning — Clinched
Bruins — Clinched
Capitals — Clinched
Islanders —  Clinched
Maple Leafs — Clinched
Penguins — 99.2 percent
Hurricanes — 87.2 percent
Blue Jackets — 72.5 percent
Canadiens — 41.1 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 — 96.6 percent
Coyotes — 3.4 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 — 107 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 — 42 goals


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sport

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