Push for the Playoffs: Flames begin key series with Canadiens

Push for the Playoffs will run every morning through the end of the 2020-21 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.

Thursday’s slate involved higher seeds taking key victories to lock down their positions. Washington, Toronto, and Carolina all won key games against the second-seeded teams in their respective divisions. Meanwhile, Boston, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Colorado all held their own as well.

Today, Nashville looks to gain further in the Central Division after Dallas dropped a key game to the Red Wings Thursday night, despite still having games in-hand on the Predators. Chicago, too, just trails by three points, but have dropped six of its seven games with the Predators so far this season.

The Flames have come alive a bit in the North Division, still trailing Montreal by eight points, but begin a key three-game set with the Habs.

[Your 2020-21 NHL on NBC TV schedule]

IF PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY (matchups by total points)

EAST DIVISION
1. Capitals vs. 4. Bruins
2. Penguins vs. 3. Islanders

NORTH DIVISION
1. Maple Leafs vs. 4. Canadiens
2. Jets vs. 3. Oilers

WEST DIVISION
1. Golden Knights vs. 4. Coyotes
2. Avalanche vs. 3. Wild

(NOTE: St. Louis currently holds a better points percentage than Arizona — .500 to .479.)

CENTRAL DIVISION
1. Hurricanes vs. 4. Predators
2. Panthers vs. 3. Lightning

(NOTE: Dallas currently holds a better points percentage than Nashville — .543 to .542.)

TODAY’S KEY GAMES
Predators vs. Blackhawks, 8 p.m. ET
Canadiens vs. Flames, 9 p.m. ET
Wild vs. Kings, 10 p.m. ET

FRIDAY’S CLINCHING SCENARIO
• The Hurricanes will clinch a playoff spot if the Blackhawks beat the Predators in regulation.

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Penguins – 99.9%
Capitals – 99.8%
Islanders – 99.1%
Bruins – 99%
Rangers – 2%
Flyers – 0.2%
Devils – eliminated
Sabres – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Maple Leafs – 100%
Jets – 99.9%
Oilers – 99.4%
Canadiens – 88.7%
Flames – 8.5%
Canucks – 3.5%
Senators – 0%

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Hurricanes – 100%
Panthers – 100%
Lightning – 100%
Predators – 49.7%
Stars – 43.6%
Blackhawks – 6.7%
Red Wings – 0%
Blue Jackets – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Golden Knights – CLINCHED
Avalanche – CLINCHED
Wild – 100%
Blues – 39.7%
Kings – 33.8%
Coyotes – 20.2%
Sharks – 6.3%
Ducks – 0%

draft lottery
Getty Images

DRAFT LOTTERY PICTURE (via MoneyPuck)

Sabres – 17.8%
Ducks – 12.1%
Devils – 10.5%
Blue Jackets – 10.5%
Senators – 8.5%
Red Wings – 7.9%
Sharks – 5.8%
Canucks – 5%
Coyotes – 4%
Flames – 3.5%
Kings – 3.3%
Blackhawks – 2.7%
Blues – 2.7%
Flyers – 2.2%
Rangers – 1.3%
Stars 1.1%
Predators – 0.9%
Canadiens 0.3%

ART ROSS TROPHY RACE
Connor McDavid, Oilers – 77 points
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 64
Patrick Kane, Blackhawks – 58
Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 58
Mitch Marner, Maple Leafs – 58
Brad Marchand, Bruins – 57

ROCKET RICHARD RACE
Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 34 goals
Mikko Rantanen, Avalanche – 26
Connor McDavid, Oilers – 25
Brad Marchand, Bruins – 25
Alex Ovechkin, Capitals – 24
Alex DeBrincat, Blackhawks – 23

Marisa Ingemi is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop her a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Ingemi.

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