NHL Playoff Picture 2019: Latest Stanley Cup Bracket, Odds and PicksMarch 23, 2019
The NHL regular season is winding down, with all 31 teams each having fewer than 10 games remaining before the playoffs begin on April 9.
Three teams (the Tampa Bay Lightning, Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks) have clinched playoff berths, with Tampa Bay already winning the Presidents' Trophy for the best regular-season record. The Lightning have 120 points, and no other team has more than 99.
How will the rest of the season unfold, and which team will be hosting the Stanley Cup in June?
NHL Playoff Picture
1. Tampa Bay, 120 points
2. Boston, 99
3. Toronto, 93
1. Washington, 94
2. New York Islanders, 91
3. Pittsburgh, 91
1. Carolina, 87
2. Montreal, 85
3. Columbus, 84
4. Philadelphia, 80
5. Florida, 78
1. Winnipeg, 92
2. Nashville, 90
3. St. Louis, 86
1. Calgary, 99
2. San Jose, 95
3. Vegas, 89
1. Dallas, 82
2. Minnesota, 79
3. Colorado, 78
4. Arizona, 78
5. Chicago, 74
6. Vancouver, 74
7. Edmonton, 73
Updated Stanley Cup Odds (Via OddsChecker)
Tampa Bay (+195; Bet $100 to win $195)
San Jose (+1200)
Las Vegas (+1200)
3 Stanley Cup Contenders
The Lightning have been dominant all season, so it's no surprise that they're the heavy favorites to win this year's Stanley Cup. They lead the NHL in points (120), wins (58), goal differential (+100) and total goals (298).
And Tampa Bay also hasn't shown any signs of stopping, as it entered Saturday on a seven-game winning streak.
The Lightning are looking to win their second Stanley Cup in team history, having previously won it in 2004.
Tampa Bay is led by the NHL's points leader Nikita Kucherov (120), who is complemented by Brayden Point (89) and Steven Stamkos (88). With so many top scorers, it may be hard for any team to completely shut down the Lightning during the playoffs.
"We know the real season starts in two weeks here," Tampa Bay right wing Ryan Callahan said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. "And that's what we're focused on, trying to get better, trying to keep getting wins and make sure we're playing our best hockey in two weeks."
With eight regular-season games remaining, the Flames are looking to clinch the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. They have four more points than the Sharks, who have played one more game than Calgary.
The Flames ended February with seven consecutive wins, but they're 5-5 in March entering Saturday's game against the Vancouver Canucks.
However, if Calgary can win enough games to secure that top seed in the Western Conference, it could have a good chance of making a run through the playoffs and facing Tampa Bay in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Unlike the Lightning, who have wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Flames are still playing important games.
"It's a good thing we're in this race for the division," Calgary defenseman Mark Giordano said, according to Sportsnet.com. "It's keeping us sharp and keeping us focused and hopefully that will lead to us playing our best hockey going into the playoffs."
Although the Lightning and Flames have the most points in their respective conferences, another team that could contend with those two for the Stanley Cup is the Sharks.
If San Jose can pass Calgary in the standings and capture the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, it could be huge, as that would guarantee the Sharks would have home-ice advantage in a potential playoff matchup against the Flames.
San Jose center Joe Thornton has never won a Stanley Cup in his 21-year career split between the Sharks and Boston Bruins. Perhaps that could be extra motivation for the veteran and his teammates to get it done because it's possible he could retire after this season.
The Sharks are also looking to win the first Stanley Cup in team history. They reached the Stanley Cup finals in 2016 but lost in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins.