NHL

NHL playoff watch: Key games, X factors for the final week of the season

We interrupt your regularly scheduled NHL playoff watch today on the occasion of the final week of the 2021-22 regular season to bring you a roundtable discussion on what our panel will be watching most closely these final few days.

We’re highlighting the most critical games this week and potential X factors, and serving up our takes on what the first-round bracket will look like:


What is the biggest game on the schedule this week?

Arda Ocal, NHL host: Other than the one I’m hosting on Monday between the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+ and Hulu), I will say Dallas StarsVegas Golden Knights on Tuesday. It’s hard to pick anything other than that in terms of sheer importance at this point in the season. But don’t sleep on St. Louis BluesColorado Avalanche (Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) because that could be a second-round matchup.

Kristen Shilton, NHL reporter: Vegas vs. Dallas on Tuesday. It’s effectively a playoff game. The Golden Knights have been chasing the Stars for that final wild-card spot in the West. As this final week of the regular season plays out, that game could be looked back on as the potential nail in one of those teams’ coffins. Big-time points on the line.

Greg Wyshynski, NHL reporter: The answer is very much the Golden Knights and Stars on Tuesday. But don’t sleep on the biggest game on Tuesday night’s undercard: The Carolina Hurricanes at the New York Rangers. There’s still a chance that the Rangers could win the Metropolitan Division, opening up their playoff possibilities beyond the Penguins in the No. 2 vs. 3 series, to potentially include the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Boston Bruins and the Washington Capitals. Then again, given how the Rangers have owned the Penguins this season, there’s no shame in second place.


Which player will be the biggest X factor this week?

Ocal: Evgenii Dadonov. He will have a monster week, cement his lead as the Golden Knights’ top scorer since the trade deadline, and be one of the key reasons Vegas books its playoff ticket, bringing the whole “failed trade” saga to a close.

Shilton: Logan Thompson. Not to harp on about Vegas’ postseason hopes, but all eyes will be on the young netminder as he tries to help them secure a berth without usual No. 1 goalie Robin Lehner.

Wyshynski: Joe Pavelski. The Stars signed him back in 2019 for moments like this. He has two goals in two games against the Golden Knights this season — and a bit more history than that against them from his San Jose Sharks days. His line with Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz has been an engine for the Stars, and one of the NHL’s best. Games like this are when Pavs is usually at his best.


What’s your prediction for the final playoff bracket?

Ocal: A1 Florida Panthers vs WC2 Washington Capitals
A2 Toronto Maple Leafs vs A3 Tampa Bay Lightning
M1 Carolina Hurricanes vs WC1 Boston Bruins
M2 New York Rangers vs M3 Pittsburgh Penguins
C1 Colorado Avalanche vs WC2 Vegas Golden Knights
C2 St. Louis Blues vs C3 Minnesota Wild
P1 Calgary Flames vs WC1 Nashville Predators
P2 Edmonton Oilers vs P3 Los Angeles Kings

Shilton: A1 Florida Panthers vs. WC2 Washington Capitals
A2 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. A3 Tampa Bay Lightning
M1 New York Rangers vs. WC1 Boston Bruins
M2 Carolina Hurricanes vs. M3 Pittsburgh Penguins
C1 Colorado Avalanche vs. WC2 Vegas Golden Knights
C2 Minnesota Wild vs. C3 St. Louis Blues
P1 Calgary Flames vs. WC1 Nashville Predators
P2 Edmonton Oilers vs. P3 Los Angeles Kings

Wyshynski: A1 Florida Panthers vs. WC2 Washington Capitals
A2 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. A3 Tampa Bay Lightning
M1 Carolina Hurricanes vs. WC1 Boston Bruins
M2 New York Rangers vs. M3 Pittsburgh Penguins
C1 Colorado Avalanche vs. WC2 Dallas Stars
C2 Minnesota Wild vs. C3 St. Louis Blues
P1 Calgary Flames vs. WC1 Nashville Predators
P2 Edmonton Oilers vs. P3 Los Angeles Kings


And now, let’s check in on all the playoff races — along with the teams jockeying for position in the 2022 NHL draft lottery.

Note: Playoff chances are via FiveThirtyEight. Tragic numbers are courtesy of Damian Echevarrieta of the NHL.

Jump ahead:
Current playoff matchups
Today’s games
Last night’s scores
Expanded standings
Race for No. 1 pick

Current playoff matchups

Eastern Conference

A1 Florida Panthers vs. WC2 Washington Capitals
A2 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. A3 Tampa Bay Lightning
M1 Carolina Hurricanes vs. WC1 Boston Bruins
M2 New York Rangers vs. M3 Pittsburgh Penguins

Western Conference

C1 Colorado Avalanche vs. WC2 Dallas Stars
C2 Minnesota Wild vs. C3 St. Louis Blues
P1 Calgary Flames vs. WC1 Nashville Predators
P2 Edmonton Oilers vs. P3 Los Angeles Kings


Today’s games

Note: All times Eastern.

Philadelphia Flyers at Chicago Blackhawks, 8 p.m. (ESPN+, Hulu)


Last night’s scoreboard

Watch In the Crease on ESPN+ for highlights from every game.

Detroit Red Wings 3, New Jersey Devils 0
Carolina Hurricanes 5, New York Islanders 2
Columbus Blue Jackets 5, Edmonton Oilers 2
Philadelphia Flyers 4, Pittsburgh Penguins 1
Tampa Bay Lightning 8, Florida Panthers 4
Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Washington Capitals 3 (SO)
Winnipeg Jets 4, Colorado Avalanche 1
Boston Bruins 5, Montreal Canadiens 3
Minnesota Wild 5, Nashville Predators 4 (OT)
St. Louis Blues 6, Anaheim Ducks 3
San Jose Sharks 5, Vegas Golden Knights 4 (SO)


Expanded standings

Note: x = clinched playoff spot; y = clinched division title; z = clinched best conference record; e = eliminated

Atlantic Division

Points: 120
Regulation wins: 41
Playoff position: A1
Games left: 3
Next game: @ BOS (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 111
Regulation wins: 43
Playoff position: A2
Games left: 2
Next game: vs. DET (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 106
Regulation wins: 37
Playoff position: A3
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. CBJ (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 103
Regulation wins: 38
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. FLA (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Next game: @ BOS (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 72
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Next game: @ TOR (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. NJ (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 14
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Next game: @ NYR (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Metropolitan Division

Points: 112
Regulation wins: 45
Playoff position: M1
Games left: 2
Next game: @ NYR (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 108
Regulation wins: 43
Playoff position: M2
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. CAR (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 101
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: M3
Games left: 2
Next game: vs. EDM (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 100
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. NYI (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 80
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Next game: @ WSH (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Next game: @ TB (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 62
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Next game: @ OTT (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 61
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Next game: @ CHI (Monday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Central Division

Points: 116
Regulation wins: 45
Playoff position: C1
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. STL (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 109
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: C2
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. ARI (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 109
Regulation wins: 43
Playoff position: C3
Games left: 2
Next game: @ COL (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 94
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. CGY (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 98%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 93
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. VGK (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 91%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 83
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. PHI (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 63
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. PHI (Monday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 16
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Next game: @ MIN (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Pacific Division

Points: 108
Regulation wins: 44
Playoff position: P1
Games left: 3
Next game: @ NSH (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 98
Regulation wins: 37
Playoff position: P2
Games left: 3
Next game: @ PIT (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 96
Regulation wins: 34
Playoff position: P3
Games left: 2
Next game: @ SEA (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 90
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Next game: @ DAL (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 11%
Tragic number: 4

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. SEA (Tuesday)
Playoff chances:
Tragic number: 1

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 22
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. ANA (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 74
Regulation wins: 21
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Next game: @ SJ (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 22
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 4
Next game: @ VAN (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Race for the No. 1 pick

The NHL uses a draft lottery to determine the order at the top of the first round, so the team that finishes in last place is not guaranteed the No. 1 selection. As of 2021, a team can move up a maximum of 10 spots if it wins the lottery, so only 11 teams are eligible for the draw for the No. 1 pick. Full details on the process can be found here. The 2022 draft lottery will be held on May 10.

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 14

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 16

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 22

Points: 61
Regulation wins: 20

Points: 62
Regulation wins: 19

Points: 63
Regulation wins: 15

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 25

Points: 72
Regulation wins: 20

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 25

Points: 74
Regulation wins: 21

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 22

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 25

Points: 80
Regulation wins: 32

Points: 83
Regulation wins: 29

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 31

Points: 90
Regulation wins: 33

Notes on conditionally traded picks impacting the top 16:

  • Columbus will receive Chicago’s first-round pick if Chicago does not win either of the two draws in the 2022 draft lottery. Otherwise, the pick defers to 2023.

  • Buffalo will receive Vegas’ first-round pick if it is outside the top 10 selections. Otherwise, the pick defers to 2023.




Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button