NHL Playoff and Seeding Scenarios

Only two days and 18 games remain in the NHL regular season. Despite the fact that just one playoff spot is up for grabs, there is potential for plenty of seeding changes. Home ice advantage could make or break a series for some teams, especially in matchups between teams who finished adjacent to each other (2nd and 3rd in division), who are typically evenly matched. Here is a list of all the playoff and seeding scenarios (for the 1st round), as well as potential matchups…

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

1. Tampa Bay Lightning

  • Points: 126
  • Record: 61 – 16 – 4
  • Clinched the Atlantic Division, the Eastern Conference #1 seed, and the Presidents’ Trophy

Potential matchups in the 1st round: Columbus Blue Jackets or Carolina Hurricanes

2. Boston Bruins

  • Points: 107
  • Record: 49 – 23 – 9
  • Clinched 2nd place in the Atlantic

Matchup in the 1st round: Toronto Maple Leafs

3. Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Points: 99
  • Record: 46 – 28 – 7
  • Clinched 3rd place in the Atlantic

Matchup in the 1st round: Boston Bruins

Metropolitan Division

1. Washington Capitals

  • Points: 104
  • Record: 48 – 25 – 8
  • Clinched Metropolitan Division

Potential matchups in the 1st round: Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, or Columbus Blue Jackets

2. New York Islanders

  • Points: 101
  • Record: 47 – 27 – 7
  • ROW: 42
  • Clinched non-wild-card playoff spot (will either finish 2nd or 3rd in Metropolitan)

Potential matchups in the 1st round: Pittsburgh Penguins or Carolina Hurricanes

  • The only scenario in which they would play the Hurricanes is if Carolina wins (against the Flyers on the road) and Pittsburgh loses in regulation (to the Rangers at home), in which case the Islanders would host either team
  • If Pittsburgh wins in regulation and the Islanders loses in regulation (against the Capitals on the road), Pittsburgh would climb to 2nd in the division and would host the Islanders
  • If Islanders get at least 1 point against the Capitals on the road, they are guaranteed a 2nd place finish

3. Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Points: 99
  • Record: 44 – 26 -11
  • ROW: 42
  • Clinched non-wild-card playoff spot (will either finish 2nd or 3rd in Metropolitan)

Potential matchups in the 1st round: New York Islanders or Washington Capitals

  • The only scenario in which they would play the Capitals is if Carolina wins (against the Flyers on the road) and Pittsburgh loses in regulation (to the Rangers at home), in which case the Hurricanes would climb to 3rd in the division, bumping the Penguins back to the #1 wild card seed.
  • Once again, if Pittsburgh wins in regulation and the Islanders loses in regulation (against the Capitals on the road), Pittsburgh would climb to 2nd in the division and would host the Islanders
  • If Pittsburgh picks up at least one point against the Rangers at home, they guaranteed at least a 3rd place finish

Wild Card

1. Carolina Hurricanes

  • Points: 97
  • Record: 45 – 29 – 7
  • ROW: 43
  • Clinched a playoff spot (will either finished as #1 or 2 wild card seed or 3rd in Metropolitan)

Potential matchups in the 1st round: Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, or New York Islanders

  • The only scenario in which they would play the Islanders is if Carolina wins (against the Flyers on the road) and Pittsburgh loses in regulation (to the Rangers at home)
  • The only scenario in which they would play the Lightning is if Carolina gets 1 point or less and Columbus wins both of their remaining games (against the Senators and Rangers on the road)
  • If Carolina wins in regulation, they are guaranteed at least a #1 wild card seed

2. Columbus Blue Jackets

  • Points: 94
  • Record: 45 – 31 – 4
  • ROW: 44

Potential matchups in the 1st round: Tampa Bay Lightning or Washington Capitals

  • If Columbus wins both of their remaining games (against the Senators and Rangers on the road) and Carolina gets 1 point or less, Columbus would jump to the #1 wild card seed and would play against the Capitals
  • If Columbus wins of one their 2 remaining games, they are guaranteed at least the #2 wild card seed (this would knock out the Canadiens)

IN THE HUNT

1. Montreal Canadiens

  • Points: 94
  • Record: 43 – 30 – 8
  • ROW: 41

Matchup in the 1st round (if they get there): Tampa Bay Lightning

  • If Montreal win (against the Maple Leafs at home) and Columbus earns less than 2 points in their remaining two games, then Montreal would make the playoffs as the #2 wild card seed

Western Conference

Pacific Division

1. Calgary Flames

  • Points: 107
  • Record: 50 – 24 – 7
  • ROW: 50
  • Clinched: Pacific Division and Western Conference #1 overall seed

Potential matchups in the 1st round: Dallas Stars or Colorado Avalanche

2. San Jose Sharks

  • Points: 99
  • Record: 45 – 27 – 9
  • ROW: 45
  • Clinched: 2nd place in the Pacific

Matchup in the 1st round: Vegas Golden Knights

3. Vegas Golden Knights

  • Points: 93
  • Record: 43 – 31 – 7
  • ROW: 40
  • Clinched: 3rd place in the Pacific

Matchup in the 1st round: San Jose Sharks

Central Division

1. Nashville Predators

  • Points: 98
  • Record: 46 – 29 – 6
  • ROW: 42
  • Clinched: non-wild-card spot (will finish either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in the Central)

Potential matchups in the 1st round: St. Louis Blues, Winnipeg Jets, Dallas Stars, or Colorado Avalanche

2. Winnipeg Jets

  • Points: 97
  • Record: 46 – 30 – 5
  • ROW: 44
  • Clinched: non-wild-card spot (will finish either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in the Central)

Potential matchups in the 1st round: St. Louis Blues, Winnipeg Jets, Dallas Stars, or Colorado Avalanche

3. St. Louis Blues

  • Points: 97
  • Record: 44 – 28 – 9
  • ROW: 42
  • Clinched: non-wild-card spot (will finish either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in the Central)

Potential matchups in the 1st round: St. Louis Blues, Winnipeg Jets, Dallas Stars, or Colorado Avalanche

Central Division playoff scenarios:

  • If the Jets win (on the road against the Coyotes) their final game, the Predators get 1 point or less (at home agains the Blackhawks), and the Blues win (at home against the Canucks), the Jets will climb to 1st place regardless of what the Blues do, and the Blues will host the Predators
  • If Predators lose in regulation to the Blackhawks, the Blues could surpass them with just one point
  • If the Blues get more points (on Sunday) than the Predators and Jets, they will finish 1st place in the Central
  • If the Predators win their final game, they will finish 1st in their division and play either the Stars or Avalanche

Wild Card

1. Dallas Stars

  • Points: 91
  • Record: 42 – 31 – 7
  • ROW: 41
  • Clinched: one of the two wild card spots

Potential matchups in the 1st round: Calgary Flames, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, or Winnipeg Jets

  • If the Stars lose both of their remaining games and the Avalanche win their final game (against the Sharks on the road), the Avalanche climb to the #1 wild card seed (and will face the winner of the Central Division)
  • If the Stars get at least one point between their two remaining games (against the Blackhawks on the road and the Wild at home), they clinch the #1 wild card seed

2. Colorado Avalanche

  • Points: 90
  • Record: 38 – 29 – 14
  • ROW: 36
  • Clinched: one of the two wild card spots

Potential matchups in the 1st round: Calgary Flames, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, or Winnipeg Jets

  • Once again, if the Avalanche win their final game (against the Sharks on the road) and the Stars lose both of their remaining games, the Avalanche climb to the #1 wild card seed (and will face the winner of the Central Division)

Featured Photo: NHL.com

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