Push for the Playoffs: Presidents’ Trophy is Avalanche’s to win — or lose

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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.

In a sport with “three-point games” and “charity points,” the stakes of any single contest can sometimes feel a little fuzzy.

With that in mind, the final showdown for the Presidents’ Trophy is refreshingly straightforward. If the Avalanche beat the Kings on Thursday, then they’ll climb over the Golden Knights and win the Presidents’ Trophy. If the Kings beat the Avs, then Vegas gains that top spot.

If the Avalanche win, they take the West Division title and home-ice advantage throughout the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs; they’d draw the Blues. If the Avs lose, they’d face the Wild, and the Golden Knights would draw St. Louis.

“The Presidents’ Trophy) was our goal in training camp and here we are, one win away from doing that,” Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said after Wednesday’s win, via the Denver Post. “Having said that, we know it’s just Step 1 and then a lot of work is going to start after that. We know the playoffs are the playoffs, a completely new season and you have to prove yourself once again. We know how important matchups are in the playoffs and if we’re able to have Game 7s in our building and to start off series in our building that’s a big key for us. So we’re excited for tomorrow.”

[2021 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round schedule]

While the Kings technically don’t have anything on the line vs. the Avs, this could also be an interesting opportunity. The rebuilding team can get a little taste of some playoff intensity, even if Colorado might hold a bit back with the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs right around the corner.

Home-ice advantage might seem trivial now, but could be pretty big for a Game 7. Especially if teams like the Golden Knights push closer to full capacity.

IF PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY (matchups by total points)

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S KEY NHL GAMES
Kings vs. Avalanche, 9 p.m. ET

THURSDAY’S CLINCHING SCENARIOS
• Colorado will clinch the Presidents’ Trophy and No. 1 seed in the West if they beat LA.

• Vegas will clinch the Presidents’ Trophy and No. 1 seed in the West if LA beats Colorado in any fashion.

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES

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

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES

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

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES

Maple Leafs – Clinched division title
Oilers – Clinched
Jets – Clinched
Canadiens – Clinched
Flames – eliminated
Canucks – eliminated
Senators – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES

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 – 11.4%
Blue Jackets – 9.2%
Red Wings – 8.2%
Canucks – 7.3%
Sharks – 6.5%
Senators – 6.1%
Kings – 5.6%
Coyotes – 3.4%
Flames- 3%
Blackhawks – 2.8%
Flyers – 2%
Stars – 1.5%
Rangers – 1%

ART ROSS TROPHY RACE

Connor McDavid, Oilers – 104 points
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 83
Brad Marchand, Bruins – 69
Mitch Marner, Maple Leafs – 67
Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 66
Patrick Kane, Blackhawks – 66

ROCKET RICHARD RACE

Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 41 goals
Connor McDavid, Oilers – 33
Alex DeBrincat, Blackhawks – 32
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 31
Mikko Rantanen, Avalanche – 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.

Push for the Playoffs: Three teams left in Presidents’ Trophy race

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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)

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

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

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

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, 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.

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES

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

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES

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

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES

Maple Leafs – Clinched division title
Oilers – Clinched
Jets – Clinched
Canadiens – Clinched
Flames – eliminated
Canucks – eliminated
Senators – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES

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 – 11.4%
Blue Jackets – 9.2%
Red Wings – 8.2%
Canucks – 7.3%
Sharks – 6.5%
Senators – 6.1%
Kings – 5.6%
Coyotes – 3.4%
Flames- 3%
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 phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Push for the Playoffs: Colorado controls destiny in the West

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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.

The Golden Knights had a, well, golden opportunity to clinch the West Division title and lock up the Presidents’ Trophy Monday night, but dropped their game with the Avalanche in the third period. Playing with just 15 skaters, Vegas blew its chance at controlling its own destiny.

Now, Colorado can clinch the West with two wins over the Kings or a win and a Vegas loss on Wednesday night.

[Your 2020-21 NHL on NBC TV schedule]

Tuesday’s action doesn’t have much of meaningful consequence in the push for the playoffs. The Bruins clinched the third seed on Monday night and tonight face their playoff opponent — the Capitals.

Winnipeg has a chance for movement. The Jets clinch the third playoff spot in the North with a single point against the Canucks on Tuesday. A loss in regulation, and the Canadiens still have a chance to catch them and force the Jets to face top-seeded Toronto in the First Round.

IF PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY (matchups by total points)

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

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

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
Canucks vs Jets, 8 p.m. ET

TUESDAY’S CLINCHING SCENARIOS

• Winnipeg will clinch the third seed in the North with a win or overtime or shootout loss to the Canucks.

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Penguins – Clinched division title
Capitals – Clinched
Bruins – Clinched
Islanders – 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 – Clinched
Flames – eliminated
Canucks – eliminated
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 – 11.4%
Blue Jackets – 9.3%
Red Wings – 8.3%
Canucks – 6.7%
Sharks – 6.6%
Senators – 6.2%
Kings – 5.8%
Coyotes – 3.4%
Flames- 3%
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

Marisa Ingemi is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop her a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Ingemi.

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

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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.

Push for the Playoffs: Flames fight to stay alive vs. shockingly hot Senators

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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.

Technically, the Calgary Flames are still in the race for a spot in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It sure feels like a matter of time, but at least the Flames get to beat up on the sad little Senators, right?

Well, about that …

If you were to put together a list of the hottest teams in the NHL right now, you’d need to put the Senators on it.

It’s not just that the Senators are on a three-game winning streak. After beating the Jets 4-2 on Saturday, the Senators are a stunning 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. Considering how thin the margin of error is for the Flames, you’d think they would be the ones on a hot streak. (Just think of the puns.) Instead, they’re 5-5-0 in their last 10 games.

[Your 2020-21 NHL on NBC TV schedule]

As of Sunday, NHL teams have claimed 15 of the 16 spots in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. For many, it’s now about seeding, and also maybe about weighing “staying sharp” versus getting rest. Connor McDavid doesn’t even need to chase 100 points any longer.

Realistically, both the Flames and the Senators should be eyeing the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery odds more than anything else. But if the Flames want to extend their slim chances, they need to beat a Senators team that’s far from tanking.

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. Tampa Bay Lightning vs. 3. Florida Panthers — 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

SUNDAY’S GAMES
Stars vs. Blackhawks, 7 p.m. ET
Senators vs. Flames, 8 p.m. ET

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 – 98%
Flames – 2.1%
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%
Blue Jackets – 9.1%
Canucks – 8%
Red Wings – 8%
Sharks – 6.5%
Kings – 5.7%
Senators – 5.5%
Blackhawks – 3.4%
Flames – 3.1%
Coyotes – 3%
Flyers – 1.9%
Stars – 1.4%
Rangers – 1.2%

ART ROSS TROPHY RACE

Connor McDavid, Oilers – 100 points
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 79
Mitch Marner, Maple Leafs – 67
Brad Marchand, Bruins – 67
Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche – 65

ROCKET RICHARD RACE

Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 40 goals
Connor McDavid, Oilers – 32
Mikko Rantanen, Avalanche – 30
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 30
Alex DeBrincat, Blackhawks – 29

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.