- With only a handful of games left, there's a few teams on the outside with a chance of sneaking into the playoffs. Do the Blues and Panthers have enough in the tank to make it to the postseason?
Not every spot has been clinched, but the playoff field is almost set.
There are two teams currently sitting just outside of the mix that have a shot: St. Louis in the West and Florida in the East. The Blues are just one point back of Colorado and have a game in hand—and a final matchup with the Avs looming. The Panthers have fallen almost out of the race, sitting five points back od the Devils for the second wild card spot after Monday's win over the Hurricanes, and that make-up game against the Bruins on the final day of the regular season could prove to be huge.
Dallas found itself mathematically eliminated on Monday morning, bringing an end to a frustrating season, a situation neither St. Louis nor Florida wants to find themselves in, but the road ahead is getting shorter and no less tough.
So what do we know at this point? We know who the favorites are (Nashville, Tampa, Boston, Winnipeg), the second tier of contenders (Vegas, Washington, Minnesota, San Jose, Toronto, Pittsburgh) and we know the teams on the edge can get hot, but have their work cut out for them.
There’s just over a week until the Stanley Cup Playoffs start, and we couldn't be more excited.
Here's how we see teams stacking up in the NHL, from 31-1 (stats and records through Monday's games):
31. Buffalo Sabres
Last week: 31 (-)
They beat Nashville—and big! It makes up for a bad couple of weeks.
30. Ottawa Senators
Last week: 28 (-2)
They scored a good victory against the Panthers, and they can only hope to finish the season on a good note.
29. Vancouver Canucks
Last week: 29 (-)
A nice little streak here, and the OT win against Columbus showed nice grit. This is… promising? Life after the Sedins is gonna take some adjustment.
28. Montreal Canadiens
Last week: 27 (-1)
Always good to see Carey Price back. Skipping the Worlds and taking the summer off is probably a good move for the netminder.
27. Detroit Red Wings
Last week: 26 (-1)
There are a couple of positive things to take from this season, but they are few and far between.
26. Edmonton Oilers
Last week: 24 (-2)
Connor McDavid for the Hart Trophy? Probably not. But just imagine how bad the Oilers would be without him.
25. Chicago Blackhawks
Last week: 25 (-)
Hey, anytime you get a story like an accountant playing goalie in an NHL game, it's always welcome. Too bad for the Blackhawks that Scott Foster’s appearance is probably the highlight of the season.
24. New York Islanders
Last week: 23 (-1)
It's been up and down, but goalie Christopher Gibson has showed a lot of promise thus far.
23. New York Rangers
Last week: 22 (-1)
The Rangers were able to beat up on Buffalo and showed some fight against Washington. What you would expect from a middle-of-the-road team?
22. Carolina Hurricanes
Last week: 21 (-1)
Carolina has proven it can beat up on bad teams, and then follow it up with wins against good ones.
21. Arizona Coyotes
Last week: 30 (+9)
They’ve played better the last five or so weeks, and can take some positives into next season. They’re still a lottery team, so a shot at the Rasmus Dahlin sweepstakes is still on the table.
20. Calgary Flames
Last week: 20 (-)
That midseason run was, in hindsight, frustrating. It shows what the Flames could be. But we've seen far too much of the Jekyll side of Calgary this season.
19. Dallas Stars
Last week: 17 (-2)
Not sure exactly where it all went wrong in Dallas, but the Stars might be in for changes over summer.
18. Florida Panthers
Last week: 19 (+1)
Do they have enough to make the playoffs? Well, losing to Ottawa isn’t helpful, and the Cats got beaten down against Boston. The late push looks like it could come up short.
17. New Jersey Devils
Last week: 18 (+1)
If you're John Hynes, who do you go with: Cory Schneider or Keith Kinkaid? Not as easy a decision as it looks.
16. Colorado Avalanche
Last week: 14 (-2)
They’re hitting a rough patch right now, and it will probably get worse with Semyon Varlanov and Erik Johnson on the sidelines.
15. Anaheim Ducks
Last week: 13 (-2)
You can't flop that way in Vancouver at this point, but bouncing back with OT wins against LA and Colorado was big.
14. St. Louis Blues
Last week: 16 (+2)
Spend a week on a nice winning streak, lose in OT to Vegas—which isn't the worst thing—then get blown out in Arizona. Yikes.
13. Philadelphia Flyers
Last week: 15 (+2)
The Flyers got themselves a nice win in Colorado and followed it up with an overtime victory against Boston. Petr Mrazek was strong in both, something that needs to quickly become a trend for Philly.
12. Los Angeles Kings
Last week: 12 (-)
Jeff Carter has been on a tear with one of his famed hot streaks. The Kings’ OT loss to Anaheim on Sunday was a tough one in a heated Pacific race for the third spot in the Pacific.
11. Pittsburgh Penguins
Last week: 10 (-1)
Hopefully Derick Brassard (lower-body injury) isn't out for long. If he's healthy and playing as the third-line center when the Pens’ pursuit of a third straight Cup starts, watch out.
10. Columbus Blue Jackets
Last week: 9 (-1)
The recent hot streak is impressive, but remember: they had a one of those last season, too. The only difference this time is that it's happening closer to the playoffs.
9. Minnesota Wild
Last week: 11 (+2)
The Wild played Nashville tough and Devan Dubnyk has been on his game of late. Finding a way to fill Ryan Suter’s minutes in the coming weeks is a tall order. His absence doesn’t totally kill Minnesota’s Cup hopes, but it’s a pretty significant dent.
8. San Jose Sharks
Last week: 8 (-)
It was a tough week for the Sharks, falling against St. Louis and Nashville, and an even tougher loss against Vegas. Still, Sharks have to be pleased with their play of late.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs
Last week: 6 (-1)
Auston Matthews is back and playing well (5-5-10 in his last 7GP), but the bigger impact might be Mitch Marner getting an extended look as the main guy.
6. Washington Capitals
Last week: 7 (+1)
Nice to see Braden Holtby starting to come around (4-1 in his last five), but it’s got to be Philipp Grubauer (11-2-0, 1.86 GAA, .939 sv% since February 20) getting the nod when the playoffs start, right?
5. Vegas Golden Knights
Last week: 4 (-1)
Everyone has their Arizona clunker, and the Golden Knights are no exception. Marc-Andre Fleury should get some rest ahead of the postseason.
4. Winnipeg Jets
Last week: 5 (+1)
You just can't follow up two huge wins against the Predators and Bruins with a clunker in Chicago. Still, this is a team rolling in high gear at the perfect time.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
Last week: 2 (-1)
They’re scuffling as of late—and ailing, too. With a playoff spot locked up, sitting Steven Stamkos for the last few games of the season, not to mention possibly giving Andrei Vasilevskiy a few nights off, could pay off in the long run,
2. Boston Bruins
Last week: 3 (+1)
The Bruins followed a tough loss in Winnipeg with a feisty win over the Bolts. Nice to see Patrice Bergeron back in the lineup and producing. Losing defenseman Brandon Carlo before the playoffs (again!) is a tough pill to swallow, but this team continues to roll despite constant injury.
1. Nashville Predators
Last week: 1 (-)
A good week for our top team with impressive wins over Minnesota and San Jose. Let's focus more on the 4-1 win over Tampa Bay than the 7-4 loss to Buffalo.