Push for the Playoffs: Bruins, Penguins battle for East Division seeding

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.

If you’re only interested in races for final playoff spots, then the East Division probably won’t be your ticket this season. Blame part of that on the Flyers and Rangers not quite being able to keep pace.

But, if you’re excited about four good-to-great teams jockeying for playoff positioning, then the Bruins, Capitals, Islanders, and Penguins look like they’re going to fit the bill.

On Sunday, two of those teams square off, as the Bruins face the Penguins on NBC at 3 p.m. ET (livestream).

If you scroll down this Push for the Playoffs page, you can see that the Penguins trail the East-leading Capitals by a single standings point, while the Bruins can close much of the gap considering their two games in hand.

[Your 2020-21 NHL on NBC TV schedule]

Both the Bruins and the Penguins are fascinating because of how much their outlooks have twisted and turned during this turbulent 2020-21 NHL season.

Back in January, the Penguins seemed to be in disarray, even beyond their GM abruptly up-and-leaving. Aside from a strangely slow scoring start, the Bruins didn’t experience the same angst, but certain personnel losses kept them from getting much love as true contenders.

Each team looks a lot more formidable today, though. In the Bruins’ case, part of their surge comes from making moves that should leave other teams kicking themselves. As a whole, the NHL was far too down on Taylor Hall, and the Bruins exploited that malaise to get him for pocket change.

All of a sudden, the Bruins look like a deeper team, while the Penguins have been trending up for quite some time. It’s unclear where these teams will end up in the East Division’s top four, but both the Penguins and Bruins have a chance to make serious noise once the playoffs begin.

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

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

(NOTE: Dallas currently holds a better points percentage than Nashville — .553 to .551.)

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

(NOTE: St. Louis currently holds a better points percentage than Arizona — .511 to .490.)

TODAY’S KEY GAMES
Bruins vs. Penguins, 3 p.m. ET (NBC livestream)
Blue Jackets vs. Lightning, 7 p.m. ET (NBCSN livestream)

Push for the Playoffs: Bruins, Penguins battle for East Division seeding

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Penguins – 99.98%
Capitals – 99.92%
Islanders – 98.5%
Bruins – 97.6%
Rangers – 4%
Flyers – 0.1%
Devils – eliminated
Sabres – eliminated

Push for the Playoffs: North Division standings April 25

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Maple Leafs – 100%
Jets – 99.7%
Oilers – 99.6%
Canadiens – 71.9%
Flames – 22.1%
Canucks – 6.7%
Senators – 0%

Central Division standings April 25

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Hurricanes – 100%
Panthers – 100%
Lightning – 99.99%
Predators – 56.2%
Stars – 42.5%
Blackhawks – 1.3%
Red Wings – 0%
Blue Jackets – eliminated

Push for the Playoffs: West Division standings April 25

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Golden Knights – Clinched
Avalanche – Clinched
Wild – Clinched
Blues – 50.7%
Coyotes – 38%
Kings – 7.8%
Sharks – 3.6%
Ducks – 0%

draft lottery
Getty Images

DRAFT LOTTERY PICTURE (via MoneyPuck)

Sabres – 16.9%
Ducks – 13.2%
Devils – 10.9%
Blue Jackets – 10.2%
Senators – 8.6%
Red Wings – 7.5%
Sharks – 6.2%
Kings – 5.6%
Canucks – 4.6%
Blackhawks – 3.2%
Coyotes – 2.6%
Flames – 2.5%
Flyers – 2.3%
Blues – 2%

ART ROSS TROPHY RACE
Connor McDavid, Oilers – 77 points
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 64
Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche – 59
Mitch Marner, Maple Leafs – 59
Patrick Kane, Blackhawks – 58
Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 58

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
Tyler Toffoli, Canadiens – 24

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.

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