Showdown Saturday includes Avalanche-Hurricanes, Knights-Oilers

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Tim KavanaghESPN.com

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Tim Kavanagh is a senior NHL editor for ESPN. He’s a native of upstate New York.

We’re officially less than two weeks away from the final day of the 2021-22 NHL regular season, and while every day removes some of the mystery about the playoff field — with clinchings and eliminations throughout the league — it also serves to clarify which clubs are the true Stanley Cup contenders. As it happens, today’s schedule includes four dynamite matchups featuring teams that have clinched a spot or are fighting for a berth.

First up is the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. the Boston Bruins at 12:30 ET. The Penguins just earned their postseason ticket this week, and are currently poised to face the New York Rangers in the first round. The Bruins are on the verge of clinching, and as the East’s first wild card have a matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes looming. Pittsburgh won the sole matchup between these two clubs thus far, 4-2 on Feb. 8, and they’ll meet again on April 21.

Next on the docket is the St. Louis Blues hosting the Minnesota Wild at 3 ET (ABC, ESPN+). This is the current No. 2 vs. No. 3 matchup in the Central Division, and St. Louis has won both previous games thus far this season. Something tells us this game could mean a little more than the rest of each team’s respective schedules down the stretch.

With opening puck drop one hour after Wild-Blues gets started, the Vegas Golden Knights visit the Edmonton Oilers at 4 ET. The Knights are currently out of the playoff mix, two points behind the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars (the two West wild cards), and one point behind the Los Angeles Kings for the No. 3 spot in the Pacific Division. They don’t need to win every game down the stretch — but they’d better not lose too many, either. As for the Oilers, they are one spot ahead of the Kings in the Pacific’s No. 2 position, so in theory, this game is another first-round preview should things fall a certain way down the stretch.

And oh yeah, the two guys taken 1-2 in the 2015 draft will go head-to-head here, as Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel meet for the first time with the latter in a Knights sweater following his trade from Buffalo.

Finally, the Metropolitan Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes head to Denver to take on the Central Division-leading Colorado Avalanche at 9 ET. We keep repeating the notion that certain games are a “Stanley Cup Final series preview,” but given the relentless approach to the sport that each of these teams takes, we really mean it here. Be sure to check this one out, to further familiarize yourself with two teams that should be playing well into June.

As we enter the final stretch of the 2021-22 regular season, it’s time to 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. All out-of-market, non-NHL Network games available to stream on ESPN+.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Boston Bruins, 12:30 p.m. (NHLN)
Detroit Red Wings at New York Rangers, 12:30 p.m.
Chicago Blackhawks at Nashville Predators, 12:30 p.m.
Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues, 3 p.m. (ABC, ESPN+)
Vegas Golden Knights at Edmonton Oilers, 4 p.m.
Philadelphia Flyers at Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m.
Washington Capitals at Montreal Canadiens, 7 p.m.
Toronto Maple Leafs at Ottawa Senators, 7 p.m. (NHLN)
Winnipeg Jets at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7 p.m.
San Jose Sharks at Dallas Stars, 8 p.m.
Carolina Hurricanes at Colorado Avalanche, 9 p.m.
Arizona Coyotes at Calgary Flames, 10 p.m.
New Jersey Devils at Seattle Kraken, 10 p.m.
Columbus Blue Jackets at Los Angeles Kings, 10:30 p.m.

Last night’s scoreboard

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

New York Islanders 3, Montreal Canadiens 0
Florida Panthers 6, Winnipeg Jets 1

Expanded standings

Atlantic Division

Points: 112
Regulation wins: 39
Playoff position: A1
Games left: 8
Next game: @ DET (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 102
Regulation wins: 41
Playoff position: A2
Games left: 8
Next game: @ OTT (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

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Points: 98
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: A3
Games left: 8
Next game: vs. WPG (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 95
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 8
Next game: vs. PIT (Saturday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 68
Regulation wins: 18
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Next game: @ NYR (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 65
Regulation wins: 21
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 6
Next game: vs. PHI (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 62
Regulation wins: 24
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Next game: vs. TOR (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 14
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Next game: vs. WSH (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Metropolitan Division

Points: 104
Regulation wins: 42
Playoff position: M1
Games left: 7
Next game: @ COL (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 102
Regulation wins: 40
Playoff position: M2
Games left: 7
Next game: vs. DET (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

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Points: 97
Regulation wins: 34
Playoff position: M3
Games left: 6
Next game: @ BOS (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 92
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 8
Next game: @ MTL (Saturday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Next game: @ TOR (Sunday)
Playoff chances: <1%
Tragic number: 3

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 24
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Next game: @ LA (Saturday)
Playoff chances: <1%
Tragic number: 1

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 18
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Next game: @ SEA (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 57
Regulation wins: 18
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Next game: @ BUF (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Central Division

Points: 114
Regulation wins: 44
Playoff position: C1
Games left: 8
Next game: vs. CAR (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 98
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: C2
Games left: 9
Next game: @ STL (Saturday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

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Points: 98
Regulation wins: 40
Playoff position: C3
Games left: 8
Next game: vs. MIN (Saturday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 89
Regulation wins: 34
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 8
Next game: vs. CHI (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 90%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 89
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 8
Next game: vs. SJ (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 89%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Next game: @ TB (Saturday)
Playoff chances: <1%
Tragic number: 6

Points: 61
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Next game: @ NSH (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 49
Regulation wins: 16
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Next game: @ CGY (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Pacific Division

Points: 99
Regulation wins: 40
Playoff position: P1
Games left: 8
Next game: vs. ARI (Saturday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 92
Regulation wins: 34
Playoff position: P2
Games left: 7
Next game: vs. VGK (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 98%
Tragic number: N/A

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Points: 88
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: P3
Games left: 6
Next game: vs. CBJ (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 50%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Next game: @ EDM (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 63%
Tragic number: 12

Points: 84
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Next game: vs. DAL (Monday)
Playoff chances: 10%
Tragic number: 9

Points: 72
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 6
Next game: vs. CBJ (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 9
Next game: @ DAL (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 52
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 9
Next game: vs. NJ (Saturday)
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 may 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.

Points: 49
Regulation wins: 16

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 14

Points: 52
Regulation wins: 20

Points: 57
Regulation wins: 18

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 18

Points: 61
Regulation wins: 15

Points: 62
Regulation wins: 24

Points: 65
Regulation wins: 21

Points: 68
Regulation wins: 18

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 20

Points: 72
Regulation wins: 20

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 24

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 32

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 28

Points: 84
Regulation wins: 30

Points: 87
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: ESPN NHL

    

Author: Ellen Garcia