NHL Playoff Bracket Scenarios: Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes push for division crowns

As foretold, there were some fireworks in the Washington Capitals-New York Rangers game on Wednesday night, the first game following Tom Wilson's antics that led to Artemi Panarin being sidelined for the remainder of the regular season. (Oh yeah, the Caps won 4-2, which put them in first place in the East Division.)

There were also some results that tidied up the playoff races elsewhere, including the Winnipeg Jets punching their postseason ticket with a win over the Calgary Flames, and the Arizona Coyotes being officially eliminated following a regulation loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

Looking ahead to Thursday night's six-game slate, we'll see if the Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs can move closer to claiming the Central and North Division titles, respectively. The Canes will welcome the Chicago Blackhawks to Raleigh, and will be looking to extend their current five-game winning streak in the final matchup of the season series against Patrick Kane & Co.

Meanwhile, the Leafs will also be the home club tonight, hosting the Montreal Canadiens as a continuation of their reinvigorated rivalry; the good news for all hockey fans is that these two iconic clubs appear poised for a first-round playoff matchup as well.

Having reached the final stretch of the regular season, it's time to check in on all the playoff races -- along with the teams jockeying for position in the 2021 NHL draft lottery.

Note: Playoff chances are via Money Puck. Tragic numbers are courtesy of Damian Echevarrieta of the NHL.

Jump ahead:
Current playoff matchups
Race for No. 1 pick

East Division

Washington Capitals - x

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: E1
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. PHI (May 7)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Pittsburgh Penguins - x

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: E2
Games left: 2
Next game: vs. BUF (May 6)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Boston Bruins - x

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 24
Playoff position: E3
Games left: 4
Next game: vs. NYR (May 6)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

New York Islanders - x

Points: 68
Regulation wins: 23
Playoff position: E4
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. NJ (May 6)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

New York Rangers

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 23
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Next game: @ BOS (May 6)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Philadelphia Flyers

Points: 53
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Next game: @ WSH (May 7)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

New Jersey Devils

Points: 43
Regulation wins: 14
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Next game: @ NYI (May 6)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Buffalo Sabres

Points: 37
Regulation wins: 11
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Next game: @ PIT (May 6)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Central Division

Carolina Hurricanes - x

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: C1
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. CHI (May 6)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Tampa Bay Lightning - x

Points: 75
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: C2
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. DAL (May 7)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Florida Panthers - x

Points: 75
Regulation wins: 24
Playoff position: C3
Games left: 2
Next game: vs. TB (May 8)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Nashville Predators

Points: 60
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: C4
Games left: 2
Next game: vs. CAR (May 8)
Playoff chances: 94.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Dallas Stars

Points: 56
Regulation wins: 16
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Next game: @ TB (May 7)
Playoff chances: 5.1%
Tragic number: 2

Chicago Blackhawks

Points: 50
Regulation wins: 14
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Next game: @ CAR (May 6)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Columbus Blue Jackets

Points: 46
Regulation wins: 12
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Next game: vs. DET (May 7)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Detroit Red Wings

Points: 45
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Next game: @ CBJ (May 7)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


North Division

Toronto Maple Leafs - x

Points: 72
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: N1
Games left: 4
Next game: vs. MTL (May 6)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Edmonton Oilers - x

Points: 66
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: N2
Games left: 5
Next game: vs. VAN (May 6)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Winnipeg Jets - x

Points: 59
Regulation wins: 22
Playoff position: N3
Games left: 4
Next game: vs. OTT (May 8)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Montreal Canadiens

Points: 57
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N4
Games left: 4
Next game: @ TOR (May 6)
Playoff chances: 99.5%
Tragic number: N/A

Calgary Flames

Points: 47
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 5
Next game: vs. OTT (May 9)
Playoff chances: 0.5%
Tragic number: 1

Ottawa Senators

Points: 47
Regulation wins: 17
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Next game: @ WPG (May 8)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Vancouver Canucks

Points: 41
Regulation wins: 13
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 9
Next game: @ EDM (May 6)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: 3


West Division

Vegas Golden Knights - x

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: W1
Games left: 4
Next game: vs. STL (May 7)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Colorado Avalanche - x

Points: 72
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: W2
Games left: 5
Next game: @ LA (May 7)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Minnesota Wild - x

Points: 71
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: W3
Games left: 4
Next game: vs. ANA (May 7)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

St. Louis Blues

Points: 56
Regulation wins: 17
Playoff position: W4
Games left: 5
Next game: @ VGS (May 7)
Playoff chances: 99.5%
Tragic number: N/A

Arizona Coyotes

Points: 50
Regulation wins: 18
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Next game: @ SJ (May 7)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Los Angeles Kings

Points: 48
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 5
Next game: vs. COL (May 7)
Playoff chances: 0.5%
Tragic number: 3

San Jose Sharks

Points: 48
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. ARI (May 7)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Anaheim Ducks

Points: 41
Regulation wins: 11
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Next game: @ MIN (May 7)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Current playoff matchups

East Division

No. 1 Washington Capitals vs. No. 4 New York Islanders
No. 2 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 3 Boston Bruins

Central Division

No. 1 Carolina Hurricanes vs. No. 4 Nashville Predators
No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. No. 3 Florida Panthers

North Division

No. 1 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. No. 4 Montreal Canadiens
No. 2 Edmonton Oilers vs. No. 3 Winnipeg Jets

West Division

No. 1 Vegas Golden Knights vs. No. 4 St. Louis Blues
No. 2 Colorado Avalanche vs. No. 3 Minnesota Wild


Race for the No. 1 pick

The NHL uses a draft lottery to determine the order at the top of the first round, so the team that finishes in last place is not guaranteed the No. 1 selection. New for 2021, a team may move up a maximum of 10 spots if it wins the lottery, so only 11 teams are eligible for the draw for the No. 1 pick. Full details on the process can be found here.

1. Buffalo Sabres

Points: 37
Regulation wins: 11

2. Anaheim Ducks

Points: 41
Regulation wins: 11

3. Vancouver Canucks

Points: 41
Regulation wins: 13

4. New Jersey Devils

Points: 43
Regulation wins: 14

5. Detroit Red Wings

Points: 45
Regulation wins: 15

6. Columbus Blue Jackets

Points: 46
Regulation wins: 12

7. Ottawa Senators

Points: 47
Regulation wins: 17

8. Calgary Flames

Points: 47
Regulation wins: 19

9. San Jose Sharks

Points: 48
Regulation wins: 15

10. Los Angeles Kings

Points: 48
Regulation wins: 19

11. Chicago Blackhawks

Points: 50
Regulation wins: 14

12. Arizona Coyotes

Points: 50
Regulation wins: 18

13. Philadelphia Flyers

Points: 53
Regulation wins: 15

14. Dallas Stars

Points: 56
Regulation wins: 16

15. New York Rangers

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 23