NHL playoff watch standings update: Race for seeding continues in the East

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We know the identity of the NHL's eight Eastern Conference playoff teams -- and have for some time, albeit unofficially until recently. But in what order will they finish? Thursday night's games will give us another set of clues.

The Florida Panthers take on the Detroit Red Wings (7 ET on ESPN+, Hulu), though they are far enough ahead that even a shocking loss wouldn't ding their chances of finishing first in the conference by too much. A more captivating matchup pits the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Tampa Bay Lightning (8 ET on ESPN), as these two are currently poised to square off in the No. 2 vs. No. 3 series in the Atlantic.

However, the Boston Bruins are only one point behind the Lightning, so a win Thursday coupled with a Lightning loss would vault them into the matchup against the Leafs. The team Boston is facing -- the Pittsburgh Penguins -- is tied with the Washington Capitals for the No. 3 position in the Metro Division. The team that wins out in that race squares off with the New York Rangers (the current No. 2 seed) or the Carolina Hurricanes (should the Rangers overtake them). The team that doesn't earns a wild card and could face either the Panthers or the Metro winner.

Oh, and the Rangers (7:30 ET vs. the New York Islanders) and the Hurricanes (7 ET vs. the Winnipeg Jets) are also in action. These teams are tied in standings points for the Metro lead, but the Canes have a one-win lead in the regulation wins column (the first tiebreaker).

Got all that?

As we enter the final stretch of the 2021-22 regular season, it's time to check in on all the playoff races -- along with the teams jockeying for position in the 2022 NHL draft lottery.

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

Jump ahead:
Current playoff matchups
Wednesday's games
Tuesday night's scores
Expanded standings
Race for No. 1 pick

Current playoff matchups

Eastern Conference

A1 Florida Panthers vs. WC2 Washington Capitals
A2 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. A3 Tampa Bay Lightning
M1 Carolina Hurricanes vs. WC1 Boston Bruins
M2 New York Rangers vs. M3 Pittsburgh Penguins

Western Conference

C1 Colorado Avalanche vs. WC2 Dallas Stars
C2 Minnesota Wild vs. C3 St. Louis Blues
P1 Calgary Flames vs. WC1 Nashville Predators
P2 Edmonton Oilers vs. P3 Los Angeles Kings


Thursday's games

Note: All times Eastern. All out-of-market games available to stream on ESPN+.

Philadelphia Flyers at Montreal Canadiens, 7 p.m.
Detroit Red Wings at Florida Panthers, 7 p.m. (ESPN+, Hulu)
Buffalo Sabres at New Jersey Devils, 7 p.m.
Boston Bruins at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 p.m.
Winnipeg Jets at Carolina Hurricanes, 7 p.m.
New York Rangers at New York Islanders, 7:30 p.m.
Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Vancouver Canucks at Minnesota Wild, 8 p.m.
Dallas Stars at Calgary Flames, 9 p.m.
Chicago Blackhawks at Los Angeles Kings, 10:30 p.m.
St. Louis Blues at San Jose Sharks, 10:30 p.m.


Wednesday night's scoreboard

Watch In the Crease on ESPN+ for highlights from every game.

Edmonton Oilers 5, Dallas Stars 2
Chicago Blackhawks 4, Arizona Coyotes 3 (OT)
Vegas Golden Knights 4, Washington Capitals 3 (OT)
Seattle Kraken 3, Colorado Avalanche 2


Expanded standings

Note: x = clinched playoff spot; z = clinched best conference record; e = eliminated

Atlantic Division

x - Florida Panthers

Points: 116
Regulation wins: 40
Playoff position: A1
Games left: 6
Next game: vs. DET (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x - Toronto Maple Leafs

Points: 108
Regulation wins: 43
Playoff position: A2
Games left: 5
Next game: @ TB (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x - Tampa Bay Lightning

Points: 100
Regulation wins: 34
Playoff position: A3
Games left: 6
Next game: vs. TOR (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x - Boston Bruins

Points: 99
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 6
Next game: @ PIT (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

e - Detroit Red Wings

Points: 70
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 5
Next game: @ FLA (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e - Buffalo Sabres

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 23
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 4
Next game: @ NJ (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e - Ottawa Senators

Points: 65
Regulation wins: 24
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 5
Next game: @ CBJ (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e - Montreal Canadiens

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 14
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 5
Next game: vs. PHI (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Metropolitan Division

x - Carolina Hurricanes

Points: 106
Regulation wins: 43
Playoff position: M1
Games left: 5
Next game: vs. WPG (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x - New York Rangers

Points: 106
Regulation wins: 42
Playoff position: M2
Games left: 5
Next game: @ NYI (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x - Pittsburgh Penguins

Points: 97
Regulation wins: 34
Playoff position: M3
Games left: 5
Next game: vs. BOS (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x - Washington Capitals

Points: 97
Regulation wins: 34
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 5
Next game: @ ARI (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

e - New York Islanders

Points: 80
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 6
Next game: vs. NYR (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e - Columbus Blue Jackets

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 24
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 5
Next game: vs. OTT (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e - New Jersey Devils

Points: 61
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 6
Next game: vs. BUF (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e - Philadelphia Flyers

Points: 57
Regulation wins: 18
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 5
Next game: @ MTL (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Central Division

z - Colorado Avalanche

Points: 116
Regulation wins: 45
Playoff position: C1
Games left: 5
Next game: @ EDM (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x - Minnesota Wild

Points: 103
Regulation wins: 34
Playoff position: C2
Games left: 6
Next game: vs. VAN (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x - St. Louis Blues

Points: 103
Regulation wins: 41
Playoff position: C3
Games left: 5
Next game: @ SJ (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Nashville Predators

Points: 93
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 5
Next game: @ TB (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 97%
Tragic number: N/A

Dallas Stars

Points: 91
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 5
Next game: @ CGY (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 84%
Tragic number: N/A

Winnipeg Jets

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 5
Next game: @ CAR (Thursday)
Playoff chances: <1%
Tragic number: 1

e - Chicago Blackhawks

Points: 63
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 5
Next game: @ LA (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e - Arizona Coyotes

Points: 50
Regulation wins: 16
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 5
Next game: vs. WSH (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Pacific Division

x - Calgary Flames

Points: 104
Regulation wins: 42
Playoff position: P1
Games left: 5
Next game: vs. DAL (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Edmonton Oilers

Points: 96
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: P2
Games left: 5
Next game: vs. COL (Friday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Los Angeles Kings

Points: 92
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: P3
Games left: 4
Next game: vs. CHI (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 86%
Tragic number: N/A

Vegas Golden Knights

Points: 89
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 4
Next game: vs. SJ (Monday)
Playoff chances: 25%
Tragic number: 7

Vancouver Canucks

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 5
Next game: @ MIN (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 8%
Tragic number: 7

e - Anaheim Ducks

Points: 74
Regulation wins: 21
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 5
Next game: @ LA (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e - San Jose Sharks

Points: 72
Regulation wins: 21
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 6
Next game: vs. STL (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e - Seattle Kraken

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 22
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 6
Next game: @ MIN (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


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. As of 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. The 2022 draft lottery will be held on May 10.

1. Arizona Coyotes

Points: 50
Regulation wins: 16

2. Montreal Canadiens

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 14

3. Seattle Kraken

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 22

4. Philadelphia Flyers

Points: 57
Regulation wins: 18

5. Chicago Blackhawks

Points: 63
Regulation wins: 15

6. New Jersey Devils

Points: 61
Regulation wins: 19

7. Ottawa Senators

Points: 65
Regulation wins: 24

8. Buffalo Sabres

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 23

9. Detroit Red Wings

Points: 70
Regulation wins: 19

10. San Jose Sharks

Points: 72
Regulation wins: 21

11. Anaheim Ducks

Points: 74
Regulation wins: 21

12. Columbus Blue Jackets

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 24

13. New York Islanders

Points: 80
Regulation wins: 32

14. Winnipeg Jets

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 28

15. Vancouver Canucks

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 31

16. Vegas Golden Knights

Points: 89
Regulation wins: 33

Notes on conditionally traded picks impacting the top 16:

  • Columbus will receive Chicago's first-round pick if Chicago does not win either of the two draws in the 2022 draft lottery. Otherwise, the pick defers to 2023.

  • Buffalo will receive Vegas' first-round pick if it is outside the top 10 selections. Otherwise, the pick defers to 2023.