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NHL Playoff Standings 2019: Top Seeds, Wild-Card Update and Predictions

Jake RillCorrespondent IMarch 28, 2019

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) stops a shot by the Tampa Bay Lightning as Lightning's Brayden Point (21) battles defenseman Connor Clifton (75) for a rebound during the second period of an NHL hockey game Monday, March 25, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

With the NHL regular season set to conclude on April 6, there are some important matchups coming up as teams try to secure their spots in the playoffs.

For some, it will be about trying to hold on to their positions, while others look to push their way up the standings and into the postseason.

Entering Thursday, six teams have clinched playoff berths: the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins, Winnipeg Jets, Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks.

                  

NHL Standings

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

1. Tampa Bay, 122 points

2. Boston, 103

3. Toronto, 97

              

Metropolitan Division

1. Washington, 98

2. Pittsburgh, 95

3. N.Y. Islanders, 95

           

Wild-Card Race

1. Carolina, 91

2. Montreal, 90

3. Columbus, 88

4. Philadelphia, 82

               

Western Conference

Central Division

1. Winnipeg, 94

2. Nashville, 92

3. St. Louis, 90

             

Pacific Division

1. Calgary, 101

2. San Jose, 95

3. Vegas, 90

             

Wild-Card Race

1. Dallas, 86

2. Colorado, 83

3. Arizona, 81

4. Minnesota, 79

5. Chicago, 76

6. Edmonton, 76

               

Predictions

Eastern Conference

Tampa Bay (No. 1 Atlantic) vs. Columbus (No. 2 wild card)

Boston (No. 2 Atlantic) vs. Toronto (No. 3 Atlantic)

Washington (No. 1 Metropolitan) vs. Carolina (No. 1 wild card)

Pittsburgh (No. 2 Metropolitan) vs. N.Y. Islanders (No. 3 Metropolitan)

            

The Tampa Bay Lightning have secured the Presidents' Trophy as the team in the NHL with the most points in the regular season, so they will take on the second wild-card team in the first round of the playoffs.

That could be the Columbus Blue Jackets, who entered Thursday in the No. 3 spot in the wild-card race but with one more game remaining than the Montreal Canadiens, whom they play Thursday night. That game could be important for deciding the second wild card.

Paul Vernon/Associated Press

After Thursday's matchup, the Blue Jackets only face two playoff teams in their final five games—the Nashville Predators and Boston Bruins, who have already clinched postseason berths. Columbus will notch enough victories down the stretch to pass Montreal and claim the second wild card.

It's a tight race in the Metropolitan Division, as the Washington Capitals (98 points), Pittsburgh Penguins (95) and New York Islanders (95) all entered Thursday with five games remaining. However, the Stanley Cup champion Capitals will remain on top, while the Penguins will edge the Islanders for the No. 2 spot, clinching home-ice advantage for their first-round playoff series.

As for the first wild-card berth, that will go to the Carolina Hurricanes, who will play well enough over their final six games to hold on to that spot.

               

Western Conference

Calgary (No. 1 Pacific) vs. Arizona (No. 2 wild card)

San Jose (No. 2 Pacific) vs. Vegas (No. 3 Pacific)

Winnipeg (No. 1 Central) vs. Dallas (No. 1 wild card)

St. Louis (No. 2 Central) vs. Nashville (No. 3 Central)

             

The Arizona Coyotes snapped a five-game losing streak with a win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, and that will provide them the momentum they need to surge back into the second wild-card spot over the Colorado Avalanche, whom they play Friday night.

Arizona also has a matchup with the Minnesota Wild on Sunday, so it could put itself in a strong position with wins in its next two games.

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

The rest of the teams in playoff spots in the Western Conference should make the postseason. The St. Louis Blues have a good chance to pass the Nashville Predators for the No. 2 seed in the Central Division, as they have one more game remaining and a fairly light slate.

St. Louis vs. Nashville will be an important battle, as the team that finishes second in the division will have home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

It's also worth noting that the Vegas Golden Knights, who reached the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, are in good position to make the playoffs again in their second year as a franchise.

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