NHL Playoff Standings 2018: Latest Picture, Projected Bracket and Races to Watch

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2018

Goalie James Reimer shut out the New York Islanders Monday night.
Goalie James Reimer shut out the New York Islanders Monday night.Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Can the Florida Panthers make a successful run at the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference? That question may not be answered until the Panthers complete their final game April 8 on the road against the Boston Bruins.

That game is one day after the rest of the league finishes its regular-season schedule. The Bruins and Panthers are closing out the season later than everyone else because of an earlier meeting that was postponed due to a snowstorm.

The Panthers got one step closer to earning that postseason spot Monday as they recorded a 3-0 road victory over the New York Islanders.

Florida has 85 points, one less than the New Jersey Devils. However, the Panthers still have eight games remaining, while the Devils have just six.

The Devils have been playing well with two consecutive wins and six in their last 10 games. However, the Panthers have been rolling since the All-Star break, and they appear to have an excellent chance of overtaking the Devils.

Here's a look at the current standings.

Monday was a good day for the Bruins even though they did not play. Boston is chasing the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference, and the Lightning lost 3-1 at home to the Arizona Coyotes.

The Bruins trail the Lightning by two points, have two games in hand on Tampa Bay. They also have two games remaining with the Lightning. 

In the top three spots in the Atlantic Division are the Lightning, Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, while the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets are in the top three positions in the Metropolitan Division.

The Philadelphia Flyers are in an excellent position to come away with the No. 1 wild-card position, while the Devils and Panthers are fighting for the final wild-card spot

P.K. Subban is a key player on the Predators' outstanding defense.
P.K. Subban is a key player on the Predators' outstanding defense.Ronald C. Modra/NHL/Getty Images

The Central Division of the Western Conference is fairly straightforward at this point. The Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets are in the top two spots. The Minnesota Wild are in third place, and they are trying to hold off the Colorado Avalanche.

If the Avalanche does not catch the Wild, they will be in an excellent position to secure one of the two wild-card spots.

The St. Louis Blues have won five games in a row and have moved into the second wild-card position.

However, the Blues' position is not secure. They are trying to hold off the Los Angeles Kings, and both teams have 89 points. St. Louis has the edge in the standings because it has a game in hand on Los Angeles.

The Vegas Golden Knights are in first place in the Pacific Division, and they are likely to hold onto that spot as they prepare to conclude their first season with a regular-season division championship.

In second place are the San Jose Sharks, while the Anaheim Ducks are trying to hold off the Kings for third place in the division.

The battle between Minnesota, Colorado, St. Louis, Anaheim and Los Angeles for the final playoff positions should go down to the final weekend of the season.


Bracket Predictions

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division
1. Boston Bruins
2. Tampa Bay Lightning
3. Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan Division
1. Washington Capitals
2. Pittsburgh Penguins
3. Columbus Blue Jackets

Wild Card
1. Philadelphia Flyers
2. Florida Panthers


Western Conference

Central Division
1. Nashville Predators
2. Winnipeg Jets
3. Minnesota Wild

Pacific Division
1. Vegas Golden Knights
2. San Jose Sharks
3. Los Angeles Kings

Wild Card
1. St. Louis Blues
2. Colorado Avalanache