NHL Push for the Playoffs: Avalanche, Panthers in race for Presidents’ Trophy

nhl push for the playoffs
Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

Push for the Playoffs will run every morning through the end of the 2021-22 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.

Winning the Presidents’ Trophy is a great feat for a franchise. Over the course of 82 (sometimes fewer!) games your team has accumulated the most points in the NHL. You get a trophy for it and home-ice advantage for as long as you last in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

And there’s the rub. As this award has proven numerous times in its 35-season existence, regular-season success does not mean smooth sailing towards a championship. 

Of the 35 Presidents’ Trophy winners since the NHL began handing out this award in 1985-86, only eight have gone on to win the Cup. The last team to succeed was the 2012-13 Blackhawks. And only two teams have had the most regular-season points and won the title later that spring since 2002.

In recent years the Presidents’ Trophy has become a Second Round curse. Since 2013-14, only the 2014-15 Rangers advanced out of the First Round. The 2018-19 Lightning famously were swept in the First Round and six other winners were bounced in the Second Round, including the Avalanche last season.

It’s no surprise that this season Colorado is in the hunt for its fourth Presidents’ Trophy. They lead the Panthers by four points and both have less than 10 games to play. There’s a decent cushion between those two NHL powerhouses and the teams behind them. The Hurricanes are on 104 points and the Rangers and Maple Leafs stand with 102 points. Just outside the 100-point club are the Flames with 99 points and eight games remaining.

Here’s what the remaining schedules look like for the 2021-22 Presidents’ Trophy contenders:

There doesn’t appear to be enough runway for anyone to catch the Avalanche or Panthers in this race. Even with a few hiccups along the way, the points difference right now gives both teams the edge in claiming the No. 1 overall playoff seed.

Good luck trying to handicap a finish here. Both Colorado and Florida are on eight-game winning streaks and the Presidents’ Trophy race may come down to the final few days of the regular season.

IF PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY (sorted by points percentage)

ATLANTIC DIVISION
Panthers vs. Capitals
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning

METROPOLITAN DIVISION
Hurricanes vs. Bruins
Rangers vs. Penguins

CENTRAL DIVISION
Avalanche vs. Stars
Wild vs. Blues

PACIFIC DIVISION
Flames vs. Predators
Oilers vs. Kings

TODAY’S KEY GAMES

Jets vs. Panthers, 7 p.m. ET

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Panthers – clinched
Maple Leafs – clinched
Lightning – clinched
Bruins – 100%
Red Wings – eliminated
Sabres – eliminated
Senators – eliminated
Canadiens – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Hurricanes – clinched
Rangers – clinched
Penguins – clinched
Capitals – 99.99%
Islanders – 0%
Blue Jackets – 0%
Flyers – eliminated
Devils – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Avalanche – clinched
Wild – 100%
Blues – 100%
Predators – 85.6%
Stars – 85.8%
Jets – 0.3%
Blackhawks – eliminated
Coyotes – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Flames – 100%
Oilers – 98.6%
Kings – 71.1%
Golden Knights – 54.2%
Canucks – 4.5%
Ducks – eliminated
Sharks – eliminated
Kraken – eliminated

draft lottery
Getty Images

DRAFT LOTTERY PICTURE (via Tankathon)

16.6% – Coyotes
12.1% – Canadiens
10.9% – Kraken
9.7% – Flyers
8.5% – Devils
7.6% – Blackhawks (*conditional)
6.7% – Senators
5.8% – Sabres
5.4% – Red Wings
4.5% – Sharks
3.1% – Ducks
2.7% – Blue Jackets
2.2% – Islanders
1.8% – Jets
1.4% – Canucks
1% – Kings

ART ROSS TROPHY RACE

Connor McDavid, Oilers – 110 points
Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers – 105
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 105
Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 101
Johnny Gaudreau, Flames – 101
Matthew Tkachuk, Flames – 92

ROCKET RICHARD RACE

Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 58 goals
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 54
Chris Kreider, Rangers – 50
Alex Ovechkin, Capitals – 46
Connor McDavid, Oilers – 42
Kyle Connor, Jets – 42
Kirill Kaprizov, Wild – 42

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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