NHL Playoff Picture 2022: Breaking Down Standings and Current Postseason Bracket
The last game for the 2021-22 NHL regular season is exactly seven days from today, which means the Stanley Cup playoff picture is almost fully developed.
In the Eastern Conference, all eight postseason berths have been clinched, with the Florida Panthers in first place with a 57-15-6 record that secured the Atlantic Division.
The Colorado Avalanche (55-17-6) have the best record in the Western Conference and are locked in for the postseason, along with the Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames, who have clinched the Pacific Division title.
That leaves three open spots in the West, which makes the remaining regular-season games on the schedule that much more important for teams like the Los Angeles Kings, Nashville Predators, Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights.
Here's a look at the current playoff watch standings in each division around the league.
All three playoff spots are clinched in the Metropolitan Division, so it's all about positioning at this point.
With three regular-season games left each, the race for first place between the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers is something to keep a close eye on.
Fans of each team should be very excited about their matchup Tuesday in New York.
Right now, the Hurricanes have a two-point lead over the Rangers.
The Washington Capitals are two points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins currently, but the former has four games to gain ground and possibly hurdle the latter before the postseason begins.
The Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins are all locked in for the playoffs in the Atlantic Division.
Florida has a commanding lead in first place, with no team threatening to catch them before the postseason begins.
The Maple Leafs are currently in second place, while there is a chance that the Lightning and Bruins could end the year in a tie. Should they end in a tie, though, the team with the most regulation wins would take third place in the division and the other being one of the two wild cards.
The Colorado Avalanche have already clinched the division as well as the Western Conference and have a nine-point lead over second-place Minnesota Wild in the Central.
In third place is the St. Louis Blues, who are tied with the Wild on points but have played one game more so far and have two fewer regulation wins.
But with four games left in the regular season, Minnesota has plenty of chances to fend off St. Louis to keep their spot.
The Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars are battling for one or both of the two wild-card berths in the West.
The Predators have one game more remaining than the Stars. This will be a race hockey fans in both cities won't soon forget.
The Calgary Flames have already clinched the Pacific Division, with the Edmonton Oilers clinching one of the other three playoff berths in the West.
That leaves two open postseason spots up for grabs.
Only two games remain for the Los Angeles Kings, but even if they lose both, they should be a lock for a third-place finish.
The Vegas Golden Knights are four points behind both the Predators and Stars in the wild-card standings.