Push for the Playoffs: Will Canadiens finally clinch a playoff spot?

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.

It remains a matter of time: the Montreal Canadiens are almost certain to clinch the final playoff spot in the North Division. That would also complete the playoff picture for the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, as 15 of the other 16 teams have been decided.

From there, it would just be out jostling for whatever positioning is up for grabs.

If the Canadiens actually do clinch that playoff spot on Monday — or later? — don’t be surprised if there’s a vibe of “finally.” Between the falling Jets and the humbled Habs, the bottom portion of the North Division’s playoff race keeps stumbling to the finish line.

[Your 2020-21 NHL on NBC TV schedule]

On Saturday, the Canadiens needed some success, plus some sort of Canucks loss to the Oilers. Edmonton did its part, beating Vancouver in regulation while Connor McDavid reached 100 points.

To the Habs’ frustration, they couldn’t secure the single standings point to clinch their playoff berth. Instead, the Maple Leafs beat the Canadiens in regulation, securing a division title for Toronto.

With that, the Canadiens wind it back to try to clinch a playoff spot. Aesthetically, a win would be a nice way to clinch, especially with a three-game losing streak currently active. Technically, the Canadiens merely need a “charity point” vs. an Oilers team whose second seed is cemented.

On paper, the Canadiens should win this game. And, frankly, the Oilers would be smart to rest players. They have nothing to gain but pride, and that box got checked with 100 points in 53 games.

Yet, this is hockey, so who knows? There’s a chance that the Canadiens might be plugging away at this playoff clinching problem even beyond Monday. Even if that chance is pretty slim. Probably?

IF PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY (matchups by total points)

EAST DIVISION
1. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 4. New York Islanders
2. Washington Capitals vs. 3. Boston Bruins

CENTRAL DIVISION
1. Carolina Hurricanes vs. 4. Nashville Predators — series official
2. Florida Panthers vs. 3. Tampa Bay Lightning — series official, seeding to be determined

NORTH DIVISION
1. Toronto Maple Leafs vs. 4. Montreal Canadiens
2. Edmonton Oilers vs. 3. Winnipeg Jets

WEST DIVISION
1. Vegas Golden Knights vs. 4. St. Louis Blues
2. Colorado Avalanche vs. 3. Minnesota Wild

TODAY’S KEY NHL GAMES
Oilers vs. Canadiens, 7 p.m. ET
Islanders vs. Bruins, 7 p.m. ET (NBCSN; livestream)
Lightning vs. Panthers, 7 p.m. ET
Avalanche vs. Golden Knights, 10 p.m. ET

MONDAY’S CLINCHING SCENARIOS
• Montreal will clinch a playoff spot if they earn at least one point against Edmonton.

• Vegas will clinch the West Division title and the Presidents’ Trophy if they beat Colorado in any fashion.

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Penguins – Clinched division title
Capitals – Clinched
Islanders – Clinched
Bruins – Clinched
Rangers – eliminated
Flyers – eliminated
Devils – eliminated
Sabres – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Hurricanes – Clinched division title
Panthers – Clinched
Lightning – Clinched
Predators – Clinched
Stars – eliminated
Blackhawks – eliminated
Red Wings – eliminated
Blue Jackets – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Maple Leafs – Clinched division title
Oilers – Clinched
Jets – Clinched
Canadiens – 96.9%
Flames – 3.1%
Canucks – 0%
Senators – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Golden Knights – Clinched
Avalanche – Clinched
Wild – Clinched
Blues – Clinched
Kings – eliminated
Coyotes – eliminated
Sharks – eliminated
Ducks – eliminated

draft lottery
Getty Images

DRAFT LOTTERY PICTURE (via MoneyPuck)

Sabres – 18.5%
Ducks – 13.5%
Devils – 11.1%
Blue Jackets – 9.1%
Red Wings – 8.1%
Canucks – 7.9%
Sharks – 6.4%
Senators – 6%
Kings – 5.7%
Coyotes – 3.2%
Blackhawks – 3%
Flames – 2.9%
Flyers – 2%
Stars – 1.6%
Rangers – 1%

ART ROSS TROPHY RACE

Connor McDavid, Oilers – 100 points
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 79
Mitch Marner, Maple Leafs – 67
Brad Marchand, Bruins – 67
Patrick Kane, Blackhawks – 66

ROCKET RICHARD RACE

Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 40 goals
Connor McDavid, Oilers – 32
Alex DeBrincat, Blackhawks – 31
Mikko Rantanen, Avalanche – 30
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 30

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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