Push for the Playoffs: Western Conference Wild Card picture still not clear

Push for the Playoffs will run every morning through the end of the 2019-20 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.

If you’re one of the top three teams in either Western Conference division, you have a little bit of breathing room between yourself and those chasing you down. But if you’re in the Wild Card race, you have no such luxury.

The battle for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference are going to go down to the wire. Heading into tonight’s action, the Minnesota Wild (75 points) and Vancouver Canucks (74 points) are the final two playoff teams. But when they look in the rear-view mirror, they notice that three other teams are breathing down their neck.

The Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets and Arizona Coyotes all have 74 points. In Nashville’s case, they have the same amount of regulation wins as Vancouver, but they have one fewer regulation/overtime win. For Winnipeg, they have one more regulation win than the Canucks, but they’ve played two more games. And for Arizona, they have the same number of regulation wins as Vancouver, but they have three fewer regulation/overtime victories.

There really isn’t much separating these five teams. The reality is, three of them will be watching the postseason from home.

The Wild are playing well. They’ve made a late charge up the standings and they’ve won seven of their last 10 contests. The rest of those teams are going through some ups and downs right now.

Vancouver, Nashville, Winnipeg and Arizona all four or five wins over their last 10 contests. That’s relatively mediocre considering their playoff dreams are still alive.

Who will come out on top? We’ll find out in one month!

IF PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY

EASTERN CONFERENCE
Bruins vs. Islanders
Capitals vs. Blue Jackets
Lightning vs. Maple Leafs
Flyers vs. Penguins

WESTERN CONFERENCE
Blues vs. Canucks
Golden Knights vs. Wild
Avalanche vs. Stars
Oilers vs. Flames

TODAY’S GAMES WITH PLAYOFF CONTENDERS 
Blues vs. Devils, 7 p.m. ET
Blackhawks vs. Red Wings, 7:30 p.m. ET
Golden Knights vs. Jets, 8 p.m. ET
Coyotes vs. Flames, 9 p.m. ET
Avalanche vs. Canucks, 10 p.m. ET
Maple Leafs vs. Ducks, 10 p.m. ET

EASTERN CONFERENCE

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via Hockey Reference)
Bruins – 100 percent
Lightning – 100
Capitals – 99.9
Flyers – 99.8
Penguins – 98.7
Maple Leafs – 85.9
Islanders – 67.8
Hurricanes 57.5
Blue Jackets – 36.7
Rangers – 33.7
Panthers – 23.9
Canadiens – 1.1
Sabres – 0
Senators – 0
Devils – 0
Red Wings – OUT

WESTERN CONFERENCE

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via Hockey Reference)
Blues – 100 percent
Avalanche – 100
Stars – 99.3
Golden Knights – 96.6
Oilers – 94.4
Flames – 69.2
Canucks – 65.9
Wild – 58.2
Coyotes – 50.1
Predators – 34.8
Jets – 28.9
Blackhawks 12.6
Ducks – 0
Sharks – 0
Kings – 0

THE DRAFT LOTTERY PICTURE
Red Wings – 18.5 percent
Kings – 13.5 percent
Senators – 11. 5 percent
Ducks – 9.5 percent
Senators – 8.5 percent*
Devils – 7.5 percent
Sabres – 6.5 percent
Canadiens – 6 percent
Blackhawks – 5 percent
Devils – 3.5 percent**
Jets – 3 percent
Predators – 2.5 percent
Panthers – 2 percent
Rangers – 1.5 percent
Hurricanes – 1 percent

(* SJ’s 2020 first-round pick owned by OTT)
(** ARZ’s lottery-protected 2020 first-round pick owned by NJ. If top three, moves to 2021)

ART ROSS RACE
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 110 points
Connor McDavid, Oilers – 95 points
David Pastrnak, Bruins – 93 points
Artemi Panarin, Rangers – 93 points
Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche – 88 points

ROCKET RICHARD RACE
David Pastrnak, Bruins – 47 goals
Alex Ovechkin, Capitals – 47 goals
Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 46 goals
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 43 goals
Mika Zibanejad, Rangers – 38 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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