NHL Playoff Standings 2022: Predictions for East, West Seedings

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIApril 16, 2022

NHL Playoff Standings 2022: Predictions for East, West Seedings

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    David Becker/Associated Press

    There's only a little more than two weeks until the 2021-22 NHL regular season will be over. On May 2, the postseason begins, and 16 teams will have an opportunity to try to make a run to the Stanley Cup.

    In recent days, the playoff field has been coming into focus. There are now seven teams that have clinched postseason berths—six from the Eastern Conference, as well as the Colorado Avalanche, who have an NHL-high 114 points and could be heading toward a second straight Presidents' Trophy.

    With two Eastern Conference playoff berths and seven Western Conference spots still up for grabs, there's still plenty to be decided. And even for the teams that have clinched, there are seeding battles taking place.

    Here are the NHL standings, followed by predictions for what the East and West playoff fields will look like this year.

NHL Standings

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    Reinhold Matay/Associated Press

    Eastern Conference

    1. x-Florida Panthers: 112 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: 79

    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 Seeding Predictions

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    1. Florida Panthers

    2. Toronto Maple Leafs

    3. Carolina Hurricanes

    4. New York Rangers

    5. Tampa Bay Lightning

    6. Washington Capitals

    7. Pittsburgh Penguins

    8. Boston Bruins

    Don't expect any major shakeups in the Eastern Conference down the stretch. These are the current top teams in the East, and they're all going to reach the playoffs. The Capitals, who are currently in the No. 8 spot, have a 13-point lead over the Islanders and a 16-point advantage over the Blue Jackets, the only two teams that could still push their way into the postseason.

    At the top, the Panthers should easily hold on to the No. 1 seed, as they have at least eight more points than every other team in the Eastern Conference. Florida has won nine straight games and 12 of its past 13. Of the Panthers' final eight regular-season matchups, five are against teams not currently in the playoff field.

    The Maple Leafs should move up a spot from No. 3 to No. 2. They've won eight of their past 10 games and should continue to build momentum with plenty of winnable contests the rest of the way.

    The biggest mover in the East could be the Caps, whose offense has been heating up late. They've won four of their past five games, scoring 26 goals over that stretch.

    Washington could move ahead of both Pittsburgh and Boston, and don't be surprised if it does so. None of these three teams are going to want to end up as the No. 8 seed, considering a first-round series against Florida will await. So it'll be noteworthy when the Capitals move up, resulting in the Bruins having to take on the Panthers to open the postseason.

    Anything can happen when the playoffs begin, though, and Florida may have a tough time converting its likely No. 1 seed into a Finals appearance.

Western Conference Seeding Predictions

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    1. Colorado Avalanche

    2. Calgary Flames

    3. St. Louis Blues

    4. Minnesota Wild

    5. Edmonton Oilers

    6. Nashville Predators

    7. Los Angeles Kings

    8. Vegas Golden Knights

    The Avalanche are running away with the No. 1 seed in the West, having won eight consecutive games. Beyond that, there's plenty that could still change in the Western Conference before the playoffs arrive.

    It's unlikely that the Flames, Blues, Wild or Oilers could fall out of the postseason. They're all having strong seasons and are far enough ahead in the standings that they shouldn't drop down lower than eighth place. It would take a big collapse by any of them for that to happen.

    But the Predators, who are in sixth, and the Jets, who are in 11th, are only separated by eight points. So there could be plenty of movement among those spots.

    The team that is currently out of the playoffs that is most likely to play its way in is the Golden Knights. At this point, Vegas is in ninth with 87 points, only one back of Los Angeles and two behind Dallas. But the Golden Knights have won seven of their past nine games and could be surging at the right time.

    "I thought this was our best game of the season. We were good everywhere," Vegas forward Jonathan Marchessault said after the team's 6-1 win over Calgary on Thursday, per Ben Gotz of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

    With how well they're playing, the Golden Knights will extend their playoff streak to five years—meaning they will have reached the postseason every year since joining the NHL. Meanwhile, their ascension will bump out the Stars, who won't win enough games down the stretch to stave off the Kings and Golden Knights.