NHL Playoff Picture 2022: Latest Postseason Bracket, Predictions and More

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIApril 15, 2022

NHL Playoff Picture 2022: Latest Postseason Bracket, Predictions and More

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The Tampa Bay Lightning kept alive the possibility of a third straight Stanley Cup triumph after clinching a place in this year's playoffs with a 4-3 overtime win over the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, and they're currently the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference.

    Tampa Bay wasn't the only team to secure a playoff spot on the night, as the Pittsburgh Penguins also sealed a berth by recording a 6-3 win over the New York Islanders. That leaves only two postseason spots up for grabs in the East this season.

    While six Eastern Conference teams have clinched, only one team has done so in the West. And that's the Colorado Avalanche, which currently have a league-high 114 points.

    Here's a look at the current NHL standings and playoff picture, along with predictions for how the seedings will shake out.

Current NHL Standings

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Eastern Conference

    1. x-Florida Panthers: 110 points

    2. x-Carolina Hurricanes: 104

    3. x-Toronto Maple Leafs: 102

    4. x-New York Rangers: 102

    5. x-Tampa Bay Lightning: 98

    6. x-Pittsburgh Penguins: 97

    7. Boston Bruins: 95

    8. Washington Capitals: 92

    9. New York Islanders: 77

    10. Columbus Blue Jackets: 76

    11. e-Detroit Red Wings: 68

    12. e-Buffalo Sabres: 65

    13. e-Ottawa Senators: 62

    14. e-New Jersey Devils: 58

    15. e-Philadelphia Flyers: 57

    16. e-Montreal Canadiens: 51


    Western Conference

    1. x-Colorado Avalanche: 114

    2. Calgary Flames: 99

    3. Minnesota Wild: 98

    4. St. Louis Blues: 98

    5. Edmonton Oilers: 92

    6. Nashville Predators: 89

    7. Dallas Stars: 89

    8. Los Angeles Kings: 88

    9. Vegas Golden Knights: 87

    10. Vancouver Canucks: 84

    11. Winnipeg Jets: 81

    12. e-Anaheim Ducks: 72

    13. e-San Jose Sharks: 69

    14. e-Chicago Blackhawks: 61

    15. e-Seattle Kraken: 52

    16. e-Arizona Coyotes: 49


    x-clinched playoff berth.

    e-eliminated from playoff contention.

Eastern Conference Picture, Predictions

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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    No. 1 Florida Panthers vs. No. 8 Washington Capitals

    No. 2 Carolina Hurricanes vs. No. 7 Boston Bruins

    No. 3 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. No. 6 Pittsburgh Penguins

    No. 4 New York Rangers vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay Lightning



    The above names will be the eight Eastern Conference teams in the playoffs. The Islanders (77) and Blue Jackets (76) are still mathematically alive, but it's unlikely either will overtake the Bruins and Capitals, both of which should clinch postseason berths in the near future.

    Still, the top eight teams will play meaningful games down the stretch as they battle for the best possible seedings. And nobody is going to want to end up in the No. 8 spot, because that leads to a first-round matchup against the Panthers.

    Florida, which has won eight consecutive games, has a six-point lead over Carolina for the top seed, and it has played two fewer games. So expect the Panthers to secure the No. 1 spot.

    While many of the seedings could remain the same between now and the start of the playoffs, one team to watch is the Capitals. Although Washington lost to Toronto on Thursday, it had won six of its previous eight games. The key to its success will likely be defense and goaltending, as it has the offense to put up big numbers.

    The Caps have the potential to move ahead of the Bruins and possibly the Penguins as well, as only five points separate the three teams. But Washington will need to beat some strong teams down the stretch, as six of its final eight games are against opponents that will either be in the playoffs or are still in the hunt.

    However, the Capitals are capable of winning those games if they can get hot again. So, the prediction here is they'll finish strong and pass both the Penguins and Bruins to secure the No. 6 seed. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh and Boston will be the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds, respectively.

Western Conference Picture, Predictions

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    Derek Leung/Getty Images

    No. 1 Colorado Avalanche vs. No. 8 Los Angeles Kings

    No. 2 Calgary Flames vs. No. 7 Dallas Stars

    No. 3 Minnesota Wild vs. No. 6 Nashville Predators

    No. 4 St. Louis Blues vs. No. 5 Edmonton Oilers



    Unlike the East, there is plenty that could still change in the West. Colorado is the only team that has clinched a playoff berth, and Vegas (ninth in the conference), Vancouver (10th) and Winnipeg (11th) are still alive in the postseason hunt.

    The Avalanche are running away with the No. 1 seed, as they've won eight games in a row and have a 15-point lead over the No. 2 Flames. So it won't be long before Colorado clinches the top spot, and it will likely go on to win the Presidents' Trophy for the second year in a row by leading the NHL in points.

    Expect the Canucks and Jets to come up short of reaching the playoffs. Either of those teams would have to make a strong run down the final stretch to get into the postseason, and those in front of them are going to play well enough to keep that from happening.

    But don't be surprised if the Golden Knights still play their way into the playoffs. They've made the postseason each of their first four years in the league, and there's a good chance they'll extend that streak to five, based on the way they've been playing of late.

    With a 6-1 victory over Calgary on Thursday, Vegas has now won seven of its past nine games, and the only team it has lost to during that stretch is Vancouver. The Golden Knights have scored 16 goals over their past three games, and they're going to be tough to beat if they can stay hot on offense.

    Vegas has the talent to make that happen and will push its way into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed. Los Angeles will play well enough to make the postseason, so it will be Dallas that gets knocked out. The Golden Knights and Stars play on April 26, and Vegas will win that game, which could come at an important time.