NHL Playoff Picture 2019: Complete Standings, Bracket and Wild-Card Race

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2019

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak (81) before an NHL hockey game against the Boston Bruins Monday, March 25, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

Though the Vegas Golden Knights didn't lift the Stanley Cup at the end of last season, the fact that the franchise made it to the final in its first year of existence is impressive.

You can add another trip to the dance among Vegas' early impressive feats, as a loss by the Arizona Coyotes on Friday resulted in another playoff berth for the Golden Knights.

Vegas joined the Winnipeg Jets, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames, Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals as teams that have clinched playoff berths.

With the regular season set to end on April 6, there are just seven spots left. Here we'll take a look at the standings, the playoff chase and make a first-round bracket prediction.


Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

1. Tampa Bay Lightning: 122 points*

2. Boston Bruins: 103*

3. Toronto Maple Leafs: 97

4. Montreal Canadiens: 90

5. Florida Panthers: 80

6. Buffalo Sabres: 72

7. Detroit Red Wings: 70

8. Ottawa Senators: 60


Metropolitan Division

1. Washington Capitals: 100 Points*

2. New York Islanders: 97

3. Pittsburgh Penguins: 95

4. Carolina Hurricanes: 91

5. Columbus Blue Jackets: 90

6. Philadelphia Flyers: 82

7. New York Rangers: 73

8. New Jersey Devils: 67


Western Conference

Central Division

1. Winnipeg Jets: 94 Points*

2. Nashville Predators: 94*

3. St. Louis Blues: 90*

4. Dallas Stars: 88

5. Colorado Avalanche: 85

6. Minnesota Wild: 81

7. Chicago Blackhawks: 78


Pacific Division

1. Calgary Flames: 103 Points*

2. San Jose Sharks: 95*

3. Vegas Golden Knights: 90*

4. Arizona Coyotes: 82

5. Edmonton Oilers: 77

6. Vancouver Canucks: 76

7. Anaheim Ducks: 74

8. Los Angeles Kings: 65

*Clinched playoff berth.

Paul Vernon/Associated Press


The wild-card race in the Western Conference is close to being sewn up. While teams like the Minnesota Wild, the Coyotes, the Edmonton Oilers and the Chicago Blackhawks are still alive for a playoff spot, the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche control their destinies.

Not only did the Coyotes' loss on Friday hand Vegas a postseason spot, but it also helped the Avalanche gain a little cushion in the wild-card race. Colorado has won two in a row and has gone 7-2-1 in its past 10 games.

"The guys are pushing, we're pushing, and trying to earn a playoff spot," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said, per Rick Sadowski of NHL.com. "The guys are hungry.

Arizona is just three points behind Colorado with four games to go, though, so this race is likely to go down to the wire.

In the Eastern Conference, things are quite a bit tighter. Only three of the top six spots have been claimed, and there are three teams—the Columbus Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes and Montreal Canadiens—separated by just one point.

Of that trio, Columbus is on the hottest streak, having won three in a row. While the Blue Jackets are tied with Montreal for the final wild-card spot in the East, they have a game in hand.

The Blue Jackets didn't expect to be chasing a wild-card berth after making headline-grabbing moves at the trade deadline, adding both Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel.

Chemistry became an issue after the new pieces were added.

"Right now, we're looking like a group of individuals who are pulling in different directions," Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said on March 30, per The Athletic's Aaron Portzline. "We don't look like a team."

Fortunately, the Blue Jackets appear to be surging at the right time. They might even be able to win a top-six spot before the season comes to a halt. The New York Islanders are in the No. 2 spot in the Metropolitan with just seven more points than Columbus and one game less remaining.

The Islanders, along with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins, control their top-six destiny.

Pittsburgh's 3-1 loss to the Nashville Predators on Friday puts them in a precarious position, however. They are now just four points ahead of the Hurricanes, who have a game in hand.

"We have a big game here on Sunday," Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist said, per Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Pittsburgh does indeed have a big game, as it hosts those same Hurricanes. A loss could lay the foundation for the Penguins going into the playoffs as a wild-card team. 


1st-Round Bracket Projection

Columbus Blue Jackets at Tampa Bay Lightning.

Montreal Canadiens at New York Islanders.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins.

Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Islanders.

Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames.

Dallas Stars at Winnipeg Jets.

St. Louis Blues at Nashville Predators.

Vegas Golden Knights at San Jose Sharks.