NHL Playoff Picture 2022: Latest Standings and Wild-Card Predictions

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIApril 10, 2022

NHL Playoff Picture 2022: Latest Standings and Wild-Card Predictions

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    The Washington Capitals notched a 6-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, as the two Metropolitan Division rivals continue to trend in different directions. The Caps have won eight of their past 12 games, while the Penguins have lost four straight and seven of their past nine.

    But it's highly unlikely that either Washington or Pittsburgh misses the playoffs because there's a clear drop-off after the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference this season. The Capitals, who are in eighth, have a 13-point lead over the No. 9 New York Islanders with most teams having around 10 regular-season games left.

    Things aren't quite as clear in the Western Conference, wherein several teams are in the thick of a race for the two wild-card berths. It's going to be exciting to see how that develops down the final stretch.

    Here are the NHL standings, followed by predictions for how the playoff field will look come May.

Current Standings

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    Eastern Conference

    1. x-Florida Panthers: 108 points

    2. x-Toronto Maple Leafs: 100

    3. x-Carolina Hurricanes: 100

    4. x-New York Rangers: 100

    5. Boston Bruins: 95

    6. Tampa Bay Lightning: 94

    7. Pittsburgh Penguins: 92

    8. Washington Capitals: 88

    9. New York Islanders: 75

    10. Columbus Blue Jackets: 74

    11. e-Detroit Red Wings: 66

    12. e-Buffalo Sabres: 63

    13. e-Ottawa Senators: 58

    14. e-Philadelphia Flyers: 57

    15. e-New Jersey Devils: 56

    16. e-Montreal Canadiens: 51

                  

    Western Conference

    1. x-Colorado Avalanche: 110 points

    2. Calgary Flames: 97

    3. St. Louis Blues: 94

    4. Minnesota Wild: 92

    5. Edmonton Oilers: 90

    6. Nashville Predators: 86

    7. Los Angeles Kings: 86

    8. Dallas Stars: 84

    9. Vegas Golden Knights: 84

    10. Vancouver Canucks: 80

    11. Winnipeg Jets: 77

    12. Anaheim Ducks: 70

    13. San Jose Sharks: 67

    14. e-Chicago Blackhawks: 59

    15. e-Seattle Kraken: 52

    16. e-Arizona Coyotes: 49

                

    x-clinched playoff berth.

    e-eliminated from playoff contention.

Eastern Conference Predictions

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    The Capitals may be the No. 8 seed, but it's not a guarantee they will be staying there. The top three teams from each division make the playoffs, and Washington only trails Pittsburgh by four points for the third spot in the Metropolitan Division. Plus, the Caps have played two fewer games than the Pens.

    So while the top eight teams in the East will reach the postseason, there could still be some movement in the standings over the final few weeks of the regular season. And it wouldn't be surprising to see the Capitals move up to seize the No. 6 or No. 7 seed.

    Same goes for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are the No. 6 seed but only trail the Boston Bruins by one point for third place in the Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay will be looking to move up the standings before trying to win its third consecutive Stanley Cup.

    The Lightning have lost four straight games, but they are talented enough to get things back on track before the regular season is over. Once the playoffs arrive, they know what it takes to make a deep run. So Tampa Bay can't be counted out, even if it ends up in a wild-card slot.

    The prediction here, though, is that the Caps and Lightning will finish strong and move up in their respective divisions. That will leave the Bruins and Penguins as the two wild cards in the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds.

    But what matters most is getting into the playoffs. All of these teams will do that and have an opportunity to make a run at a Stanley Cup.

Western Conference Predictions

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    The Dallas Stars have lost two straight games and three of their past four, while the Golden Knights have won six of seven following their victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night. That leaves both teams on 84 points as they battle for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.

    It's possible that some teams above them in the standings fall and both Dallas and Vegas get into the playoffs, but that doesn't seem likely. The Edmonton Oilers are on a six-game winning streak, while the Nashville Predators and Los Angeles Kings should both finish strong enough to secure postseason berths.

    Even though the Golden Knights have two fewer games remaining than the Stars, it's hard to imagine Vegas doesn't push its way into the playoffs, especially with how it has been playing of late. The Golden Knights have a talented roster and know what it takes to win this time of year, having made the postseason in each year of the team's existence.

    Meanwhile, the Stars entered Saturday as the only team in a playoff position with a negative goal differential. Dallas has found ways to win games, but it can't be trusted to keep it up down the homestretch.

    So the prediction here is that the Golden Knights capture the West's final wild-card berth. They play a mix of postseason contenders and eliminated teams before the end of the regular season, and their matchup against the Stars on April 26 could be crucial.

    But if we have learned anything from Vegas' first four seasons in the NHL, it's to never count out the Golden Knights. They will keep their playoff streak alive this year.

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