NHL Playoff Picture 2022: Updated Standings and Bracket OutlookApril 8, 2022
NHL Playoff Picture 2022: Updated Standings and Bracket Outlook
The Florida Panthers and Colorado Avalanche had already secured their spots in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and they got company on Thursday.
The Carolina Hurricanes have become the third NHL team to clinch a postseason berth this year after recording a 5-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
There are three weeks to go in the regular season, but the playoff picture is coming into focus. Only three teams have clinched berths thus far, though a few others are getting close to doing so. And it's already fairly clear which eight Eastern Conference teams will be heading to the postseason.
Still, some important seeding battles continue to take place. Plus, things are tight in the Western Conference, as several leading teams remain within striking distance for the chasing pack.
Here's everything you need to know about the current NHL playoff picture.
Current NHL Standings
1. x-Florida Panthers: 104 points
2. x-Carolina Hurricanes: 100
3. Toronto Maple Leafs: 98
4. New York Rangers: 98
5. Boston Bruins: 93
6. Tampa Bay Lightning: 93
7. Pittsburgh Penguins: 92
8. Washington Capitals: 86
9. New York Islanders: 73
10. Columbus Blue Jackets: 72
11. Detroit Red Wings: 65
12. e-Buffalo Sabres: 63
13. e-Ottawa Senators: 58
14. e-Philadelphia Flyers: 57
15. e-New Jersey Devils: 54
16. e-Montreal Canadiens: 51
1. x-Colorado Avalanche: 106 points
2. Calgary Flames: 95
3. Minnesota Wild: 91
4. St. Louis Blues: 90
5. Edmonton Oilers: 89
6. Nashville Predators: 86
7. Los Angeles Kings: 86
8. Dallas Stars: 84
9. Vegas Golden Knights: 82
10. Vancouver Canucks: 78
11. Winnipeg Jets: 76
12. Anaheim Ducks: 68
13. San Jose Sharks: 67
14. Chicago Blackhawks: 59
15. e-Seattle Kraken: 52
16. e-Arizona Coyotes: 49
x-clinched playoff berth.
e-eliminated from playoff contention.
Eastern Conference Picture
No. 1 Florida Panthers vs. No. 8 Washington Capitals
No. 2 Carolina Hurricanes vs. No. 7 Pittsburgh Penguins
No. 3 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. No. 6 Tampa Bay Lightning
No. 4 New York Rangers vs. No. 5 Boston Bruins
The Panthers are having an impressive season, and they've played especially well of late, winning five straight games and eight of their past nine. But they haven't run away with the No. 1 seed, as the Hurricanes are only four points back of the top spot.
And the Maple Leafs and Rangers each have 98 points. So there's still plenty for these teams to play for at this point in the season, even though it seems clear they will be heading to the playoffs.
Carolina is heading to the postseason for the fourth consecutive year, but it hasn't gone beyond the Eastern Conference Final in any of the previous three seasons, and it hasn't made it that far since 2019. The Hurricanes will be looking to make a deeper postseason run in 2022 now that they've secured their spot.
"Obviously, we know there are bigger and better things we want to accomplish, but you have to get there first," Carolina head coach Rod Brind'Amour said, per Bob Sutton of the Associated Press. "To get there with 11 games to go says a lot about the group. Normally, you're sweating it out to try to get in."
There are only three teams outside of the top eight that haven't been eliminated from postseason contention: the Islanders (73), Blue Jackets (72) and Red Wings (65). But it would take a big collapse from the Capitals (86) for any of them to get into the playoffs.
If the Panthers and Caps end up facing off in the first round, it would be an intriguing matchup.
Washington may be the No. 8 seed, but it's been one of the best teams in the NHL for the past decade, including winning the Stanley Cup in 2018. Meanwhile, Florida hasn't won a playoff series since reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 1996, its third season and its first trip to the postseason.
Western Conference Picture
No. 1 Colorado Avalanche vs. No. 8 Dallas Stars
No. 2 Calgary Flames vs. No. 7 Los Angeles Kings
No. 3 Minnesota Wild vs. No. 6 Nashville Predators
No. 4 St. Louis Blues vs. No. 5 Edmonton Oilers
Most people probably thought the Golden Knights would be among the top eight teams in the West at this point in the season. After all, they have a talented roster and have quickly become a perennial playoff contender, having reached the postseason in each of the franchise's first four seasons.
If Vegas is going to extend its playoff streak, though, it will need a strong finish to the regular season. It trails Dallas by only two points, but the Stars have also played two fewer games. The Golden Knights are also four points back of the Kings, which have played one more game than Vegas.
Nashville (the current No. 6 seed) and Vancouver (the second team out at No. 10) are only separated by eight points. So it will be intriguing to see these teams battle for playoff berths over the next few weeks.
If the season ended today, the Stars would be the only team in the playoffs with a negative goal differential (minus-three). But they've played well enough to be in this position with 12 regular-season games to go, and they could be heading to the postseason for the third time in four years.
In 2020, the Stars reached the Stanley Cup Final but lost to the Lightning in six games. Dallas followed that up by missing the playoffs in 2021. So it would be a step back in the right direction if it reaches the postseason in 2022.
As for the top of the Western Conference, the Avalanche are running away with the No. 1 seed. They lead the Flames by 11 points, and Colorado has one more game to play than Calgary.
Don't be surprised if the Avs clinch the top spot in the near future.