We last updated you about how these NHL teams were doing mid-way through the season, but now the playoffs are just around the corner. April 10th to be exact. So what does the Stanley Cup playoff picture look like right now? Which teams are still in the running? Which teams have already made the cut? We’re breaking down those NHL teams who have solidified a spot in the playoffs right here.
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Here’s how it works: Eight teams from each of the conferences make the playoffs. As it stands right now, six NHL teams have already been eliminated. In the East, the New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres, and the New York Rangers are out. In the West, things are a little bit closer. The L.A. Kings are the only team that’s definitely skipping the postseason. Anyway, here are the teams who have already clinched a playoff spot…
Tampa Bay Lightning
We called this one at the beginning of the season. As of right now, this team has the best odds – 9/4 – to win the Stanley Cup. And that makes sense because they have the best record in the league at 59-15-4. Since the NHL All Star break, they’ve been looking as good as ever, though teams like the Golden Knights are really hot right now. The Lightning have a sturdy foundation of players like Andrei Vasilevskiy and Nikita Kucherovand, not to mention they’re killing opponents with a huge goal differential of 92. Is it their destiny to win it all this year? Maybe!
Right now, it looks like they’re projected to play the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the playoffs. But things could change at any moment, so keep watching!
The Bruins just fell to the Detroit Red Wings and failed to secure home ice in the first round, but at least they’ve already clinched their spot in the playoffs. They know they need to finish strong to keep any Stanley Cup dreams alive and they’d love to rack up enough wins to finish ahead of the Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division. Matt Grzelcyk and Kevan Miller are back, but the team will need to work on its defense if they want to go deep in the postseason.
If things stay as they are, the Bruins are projected to play the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round.
The Flames are leading the ultra-competitive Pacific Division, ahead of teams like the Golden Knights and the Sharks with a record of 49-23-7. That win over the Sharks clinched first place in the Western Conference for the Flames, something they haven’t been able to brag about for nearly three decades. They look like a real contender for the Stanley Cup this year, courtesy of players like Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund, Mark Jankowski, and Michael Frolik. According to captain Mark Giordano, “We’ve had a good year, a good regular season, but we know that the work lies ahead in the playoffs.”
If the playoff picture remains the same, the Flames are projected to play the Colorado Avalanche in the first round.
San Jose Sharks
They’ve only got three games left, but the Sharks are looking solid. They fell to the Flames but showed tons of endurance with a win over the Golden Knights on Saturday. With players like Timo Meier, who became the third San Jose Shark to reach the 30-goal mark this season, they’re a balanced team and definitely in a position to challenge the best for the Stanley Cup. They’ll use this final week of the regular season to improve their lineup and try to ride into the playoffs with a few more wins under their belt.
If things hold steady, the Sharks are projected to play the hot Vegas Golden Knights in the first round of the playoffs.
Ever since they clinched a playoff spot, the Jets’ performance has wavered severely. They’ve have lost three in a row – including a game to the Canadiens who are fighting for a wild card spot – and they’ve still got a lot of road games coming up. However, Connor Hellebuyck is an elite goaltender with a.924 save percentage in his last 10 starts, so at least they’ve got that going for them. Still, the Central Division is going to be tight with the Maple Leafs and the Predators coming on strong.
If nothing moves around too much, the Jets are projected to play the Dallas Stars in the first round of the playoffs.
We called this one too. Sure, the Predators just ended what could’ve been an end-of-season winning streak with a loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but they’re heading to the playoffs regardless. Viktor Arvidsson just tied Nashville’s single-season scoring record and they’ve still got games left to play! The Central Division is crazy right now and the Predators can be inconsistent, but if they can just figure out a way to win big games, they’ll keep fans’ Stanley Cup hopes alive. Can the Preds redeem themselves after such a close brush with Stanley Cup greatness in 2017? Anything’s possible.
If things stay the course, the Predators are expected to have a rematch with the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the playoffs.