NHL Push for the Playoffs: Predators can gain breathing room in playoff race

nhl push for the playoffs
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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.

Right now, there are a few different ways the final Western Conference playoff spots can shake out. (And those are realistic ways, not far-fetched routes for the Canucks to finish in the top eight.)

That said, both the Predators and Stars improved their chances of locking down one of the West’s two wild-card spots on Saturday. While the Predators and Stars won, the Golden Knights fell to the Oilers. That leaves the Stars and Predators with 91 standings points and seven games remaining apiece. The Golden Knights, meanwhile, slipped to six games remaining, and stayed at 87 standings points.

Before Saturday, it was already tough to imagine the Golden Knights making the playoffs unless they grabbed the third Pacific Division spot from the Kings. Saturday made those odds even more distant.

If the Predators win on Sunday, they can grow their lead over Vegas to six standings points, which would be a nigh-impossible gap to close with six games left.

Considering their eight-game winning streak (and 9-0-1 run in 10 games), the Blues are not an easy opponent for the Predators. That said, the Blues clinched a playoff spot on Saturday, and are closing off a back-to-back set — much like the Predators.

Perhaps that might take just a tiny bit of edge off of the Blues’ game? This isn’t do-or-die for Nashville, but a win here would reduce anxiety considerably.

(Maybe they’d even *gasp* take an opportunity to rest some of their highest-mileage players after a hypothetical win vs. the Blues?)

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
Blues vs. Wild

PACIFIC DIVISION
Flames vs. Predators
Oilers vs. Kings

TODAY’S KEY GAMES

Blues vs. Predators, 6 p.m. ET

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Panthers – clinched
Maple Leafs – clinched
Lightning – clinched
Bruins – clinched
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 – eliminated
Flyers – eliminated
Devils – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Avalanche – clinched No. 1 seed in Western Conference
Blues – clinched
Wild – 100%
Stars – 93.7
Predators – 91.9%
Jets – 0%
Blackhawks – eliminated
Coyotes – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Flames – clinched
Oilers – 99.8%
Kings – 80.1%
Golden Knights – 30.2%
Canucks – 4.3%
Ducks – eliminated
Sharks – eliminated
Kraken – eliminated

draft lottery
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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% – Jets
1.8% – Islanders
1.4% – Canucks
1% – Golden Knights (*conditional)

ART ROSS TROPHY RACE

Connor McDavid, Oilers – 110 points
Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers – 108
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 105
Johnny Gaudreau, Flames – 105
Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 102
Matthew Tkachuk, Flames – 96

ROCKET RICHARD RACE

Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 58 goals
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 54
Chris Kreider, Rangers – 50
Alex Ovechkin, Capitals – 47
Kyle Connor, Jets – 43
Kirill Kaprizov, Wild – 43
Connor McDavid, Oilers – 42

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