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.
As we count down the final days of the 2020-21 NHL regular season, only three teams remain in the hunt the for the Presidents’ Trophy. The Avalanche, Golden Knights and Maple Leafs have games to play and a chance to clinch the best point total in the league and home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Presidents’ Trophy was introduced for the 1985-86 season and only the Avalanche (1996-97, 2000-01) has won it among the three teams left in the running.
Vegas currently has the lead with 80 points and one game to play. They finish up Wednesday at San Jose. Colorado is behind them with two games to go (both vs. LA) and 78 points. Meanwhile, Toronto is the long shot sitting on 76 points and two games (vs. Ottawa and Winnipeg) left.
[2021 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round schedule]
Should there be a tie, the edge would go to the Avalanche as they will own the better Regulation Wins tiebreaker. They are currently four better (33) in that category than both the Golden Knights and Maple Leafs (29).
Of course, winning the Presidents’ Trophy doesn’t equate to postseason success. Of the 34 times it’s been handed out, only eight winners have gone on to win the Stanley Cup — the last being the 2013 Blackhawks. Three other teams have reached the Cup Final and lost.
IF PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY (matchups by total points)
1. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 4. New York Islanders — series official
2. Washington Capitals vs. 3. Boston Bruins — series official
1. Carolina Hurricanes vs. 4. Nashville Predators — series official
2. Florida Panthers vs. 3. Tampa Bay Lightning — series official
1. Toronto Maple Leafs vs. 4. Montreal Canadiens — series official
2. Edmonton Oilers vs. 3. Winnipeg Jets — series official
1. Vegas Golden Knights vs. 4. St. Louis Blues
2. Colorado Avalanche vs. 3. Minnesota Wild
TODAY’S KEY NHL GAMES
Oilers vs. Canadiens, 5 p.m. ET
Wild vs. Blues, 9 p.m. ET (NBCSN livestream)
WEDNESDAY’S CLINCHING SCENARIOS
• Vegas can clinch the Presidents’ Trophy and No. 1 seed in the West if they earn more points vs. San Jose than Colorado earns vs. LA.
• Colorado will clinch the Presidents’ Trophy and No. 1 seed in the West if they beat LA in any fashion AND San Jose beats Vegas in regulation.
• Toronto will remain in the Presidents’ Trophy race if they beat Ottawa in any fashion AND San Jose beats Vegas in regulation AND LA beats Colorado in any fashion.
Penguins – Clinched division title
Capitals – Clinched
Bruins – Clinched
Islanders – Clinched
Rangers – eliminated
Flyers – eliminated
Devils – eliminated
Sabres – eliminated
Hurricanes – Clinched division title
Panthers – Clinched
Lightning – Clinched
Predators – Clinched
Stars – eliminated
Blackhawks – eliminated
Red Wings – eliminated
Blue Jackets – eliminated
Maple Leafs – Clinched division title
Oilers – Clinched
Jets – Clinched
Canadiens – Clinched
Flames – eliminated
Canucks – eliminated
Senators – eliminated
Golden Knights – Clinched
Avalanche – Clinched
Wild – Clinched
Blues – Clinched
Kings – eliminated
Coyotes – eliminated
Sharks – eliminated
Ducks – eliminated
DRAFT LOTTERY PICTURE (via MoneyPuck)
Sabres – 18.5%
Ducks – 13.5%
Devils – 11.4%
Blue Jackets – 9.2%
Red Wings – 8.2%
Canucks – 7.3%
Sharks – 6.5%
Senators – 6.1%
Kings – 5.6%
Coyotes – 3.4%
Blackhawks – 2.8%
Flyers – 2%
Stars – 1.5%
Rangers – 1%
ART ROSS TROPHY RACE
Connor McDavid, Oilers – 102 points
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 81
Brad Marchand, Bruins – 69
Mitch Marner, Maple Leafs – 67
Patrick Kane, Blackhawks – 66
ROCKET RICHARD RACE
Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 40 goals
Connor McDavid, Oilers – 33
Alex DeBrincat, Blackhawks – 32
Mikko Rantanen, Avalanche – 30
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 30
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.