NHL Push for the Playoffs: Golden Knights close to must-win territory

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.

Monday has the potential to be a significant day in the Western Conference playoff race with the Stars and Golden Knights both in action. The two teams enter the day separated by four points in the standings, with Dallas occupying the first Wild Card spot and Vegas sitting just outside of the playoff picture. Vegas trails both Dallas and Nashville by four points for a Wild Card spot and the Kings by three points for the third spot in the Pacific Division.

Dallas visits Vancouver on Monday while the Golden Knights host the Devils. The outcome of those two games could go a long way toward determining the remaining playoff spots in the West and significantly alter the playoff odds for both teams. This is especially true for the Golden Knights who are running out of time (and margin for error) in their quest for a playoff spot. They have lost three of their past five games, including a 4-0 loss to the Oilers on Saturday, and will only have five games remaining after Monday.

Even though they are four points back of Dallas (and Nashville) for a Wild Card spot, and have a remaining head-to-head game with the Stars, the third spot in the Pacific might still be the Golden Knights’ best path for a playoff spot, but even that might change with a loss on Monday to the Devils. They still trail the Kings by three points, while Monday’s game is their extra game in hand they have on Los Angeles. They can not miss the opportunity to gain two points against a Devils team that has won just four games over the past month.

Vegas has by far the tougher remaining schedule when compared to the Kings, still having three games against potential playoff teams (Washington, Dallas, and St. Louis) remaining. The Kings play nothing but the league’s worst teams to close out the regular season. That means if Vegas fails to capitalize on its chance Monday against a Devils team at the bottom of the standings it would need a lot of help to catch any of the teams ahead of them.

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. Predators
Blues vs. Wild

PACIFIC DIVISION
Flames vs. Stars
Oilers vs. Kings

TODAY’S KEY GAMES

Capitals vs. Avalanche, 9 p.m. ET
Devils vs. Golden Knights, 10 p.m. ET
Stars vs. Canucks, 10:30 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 – clinched
Islanders – eliminated
Blue Jackets – eliminated
Flyers – eliminated
Devils – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Avalanche – clinched No. 1 seed in Western Conference
Blues – clinched
Wild – clinched
Stars – 94.2%
Predators – 84.7%
Jets – 0%
Blackhawks – eliminated
Coyotes – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Flames – clinched
Oilers – 99.8%
Kings – 80.7%
Golden Knights – 35.9%
Canucks – 4.7%
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% – Islanders
1.8% – Jets
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