NHL playoff watch standings update: What to watch on the final day of the regular season

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We've made it to the final day of the regular season -- save for a makeup game between the lottery-bound Winnipeg Jets and Seattle Kraken on Sunday -- with a number of questions remaining to be answered. Sure, we know all 16 Stanley Cup playoff teams, but only half of them are locked into position heading into the 15 games coming up Friday night.

Here's a rundown of what's on the line (and a reminder that you can stream all but one of these games out-of-market via ESPN+):


Chicago Blackhawks at Buffalo Sabres, 7 ET

An inauspicious start to the slate, as these two clubs are lottery-bound. Chicago is locked into its spot at sixth, while the Sabres (ninth) can be "passed" by the Senators and Red Wings if they lose and those teams win. An important note on Chicago's pick: It will be sent to the Blue Jackets (as part of the Seth Jones trade) if it does not win either of the draft lottery draws.

Boston Bruins at Toronto Maple Leafs, 7 ET

Here we go! The Bruins are one point back of the Lightning for the No. 3 seed in the Atlantic and hold a two-game edge in the regulation wins column. So a win of any kind here, plus a loss of any kind for the Lightning, and they'll take on these same Maple Leafs in the first round; otherwise, they'll take on the Carolina Hurricanes as the East's first wild card. Will there be an extra push from the Leafs to make sure they don't get their playoff nemesis in Round 1?

Florida Panthers at Montreal Canadiens, 7 ET

The Panthers locked up the Presidents' Trophy as the top regular-season team Thursday night, so they'll have home-ice advantage in any postseason series regardless of the result here. Montreal is currently in the top spot of the draft lottery, and even a win would keep it there as it is two regulation wins behind the Coyotes. But, they'll all still play this game.

Detroit Red Wings at New Jersey Devils, 7 ET

As noted above, a win by the Red Wings could move them beyond the Sabres in the draft lottery; currently they're eighth. The Devils are fifth, and a loss here coupled with a win by the Flyers would mean they'd move up to fourth.

Washington Capitals at New York Rangers, 7 ET

The Rangers have clinched their spot as the No. 2 seed in the Metro. The Capitals are one point and one regulation win behind the Penguins for the No. 3 seed ... a team that will face these very Rangers in Round 1! Note that should the Capitals and Penguins tie in points and RW, the next tiebreaker adds overtime wins into the mix, and the Penguins have an insurmountable lead there. So a Caps win in this one coupled with a Penguins regulation loss means we get Rangers-Capitals; anything else and it's Rangers-Penguins.

Ottawa Senators at Philadelphia Flyers, 7 ET

Funny how a lot of these lottery teams are playing each other. In this matchup, both clubs can move up in the standings and down in the draft lottery order with a win; the Flyers (fourth) are two points back of the Devils while the Senators (seventh) are one point back of the Red Wings and two points behind the Sabres.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 ET

A win of any kind or an overtime/shootout loss for the Penguins locks them into the Metro's No. 3 seed and a first-round matchup against the Rangers. The Blue Jackets are locked into the No. 12 spot in the draft lottery, but as noted above, they may have another higher pick this July as well.

Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Islanders, 7:30 ET

The two-time defending champion Lightning are hoping to close it out stronger than their effort last night (a 5-2 loss to Columbus), which would give them a matchup against the Maple Leafs in Round 1. Should they lose in any fashion to the Isles, and the Bruins win against the Leafs, the Lightning will instead take on the Hurricanes in Round 1.

Vegas Golden Knights at St. Louis Blues, 8 ET (NHLN)

Note that this NHL Network telecast is the lone contest not available to out-of-market ESPN+ subscribers. The Blues are seeking home-ice advantage in their first-round series against the Wild; they need a win of any kind here, plus a Wild loss in regulation, for that to happen. The Knights were the final team knocked out of playoff contention this week, and they are currently the No. 16 team in the draft lottery order. A regulation loss here coupled with a Canucks win means they'll move to No. 15. Of course, should this pick remain outside the top 10 -- meaning the Knights did not win one of the lottery draws -- it will be sent to the Sabres as part of the Jack Eichel trade.

Colorado Avalanche at Minnesota Wild, 8 ET

Colorado missed out on the Presidents' Trophy thanks to a shootout loss last night, but they remain the No. 1 seed in the West. They will be taking on whichever of the Predators or Stars finishes in the second wild-card position. The Wild will be skating against the Blues in Round 1, and a win or regulation/shootout loss in this game will guarantee them home-ice advantage in that series.

Calgary Flames at Winnipeg Jets, 8 ET

As the No. 1 seed in the Pacific, the first-round matchup for the Flames will be the West's first wild-card team (currently the Predators, but possibly the Stars). As for the Jets, they are in the No. 14 slot in the draft lottery order; should the Islanders win Friday and the Jets lose this game and their finale on Sunday, Winnipeg will move into the No. 13 spot.

Anaheim Ducks at Dallas Stars, 8:30 ET

Despite some early- to midseason thrills, the Ducks just weren't quite playoff-caliber this season. They'll bolster their young core with a high draft pick; they currently sit at No. 10, though they will move to No. 11 with a win in this game and a regulation loss by the Sharks. The Stars are playoff-caliber this season. A win of any kind in this game coupled with a regulation loss by the Predators will give them the West's first wild card (and a matchup with Calgary in Round 1); any other pairing of results makes them the No. 2 wild card, which means a series against the Avalanche.

Vancouver Canucks at Edmonton Oilers, 9 ET

Connor McDavid & Co. are locked into the No. 2 spot in the Pacific, and will face the Los Angeles Kings in the first round. The Canucks fought valiantly but came up just short of the playoffs this week, and are currently in the No. 15 spot in the draft lottery order. A win against Edmonton, and a regulation loss by the Golden Knights means they would move to the No. 16 spot. Any other result would keep those two teams' places intact.

San Jose Sharks at Seattle Kraken, 10 ET

The Sharks, currently 11th in the draft lottery order, will move to No. 10 with a regulation loss to the Kraken and a Ducks win of any variety Friday. Meanwhile, the Kraken are currently No. 3 in the draft lottery order and can move to No. 4: This scenario would require them to win this game and their final game Sunday, plus the Flyers would have to lose in regulation or overtime/shootout Friday night.

Nashville Predators at Arizona Coyotes, 10:30 ET

Yes, we'll all be waiting up late to watch this one, as the result may determine the final wild-card spot in the West. The Preds are one point ahead of the Stars in the wild-card shuffle and hold the regulation wins tiebreaker regardless of Friday's action. A win here or an overtime/shootout loss clinches their position as WC1 (and a matchup with the Flames in Round 1); a regulation loss coupled with a Stars win means they'd be WC2 and take on the Avs instead. The Stars-Ducks game probably won't be over by opening puck drop of this one, but should the Stars lose in regulation, that clinches WC1 for the Preds.

As for the Coyotes, this is their final game at Gila River Arena before a move to the new Arizona State facility next season. They are locked into the No. 2 spot in the draft lottery order.

And now, let's check in on the current playoff matchups, along with expanded standings and the full lottery order.

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

Jump ahead:
Current playoff matchups
Last 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 night's scoreboard

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

Boston Bruins 5, Buffalo Sabres 0
Florida Panthers 4, Ottawa Senators 0
Carolina Hurricanes 6, New Jersey Devils 3
New York Islanders 5, Washington Capitals 1
Columbus Blue Jackets 5, Tampa Bay Lightning 2
Minnesota Wild 3, Calgary Flames 2 (OT)
Nashville Predators 5, Colorado Avalanche 4 (SO)
Edmonton Oilers 5, San Jose Sharks 4 (OT)
Vancouver Canucks 3, Los Angeles Kings 2 (OT)


Expanded standings

Note: x = clinched playoff spot; y = clinched division title; z = clinched best conference record; p = clinched Presidents' Trophy; e = eliminated

Atlantic Division

p - Florida Panthers

Points: 122
Regulation wins: 42
Playoff position: A1
Games left: 1
Next game: @ MTL (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x - Toronto Maple Leafs

Points: 113
Regulation wins: 44
Playoff position: A2
Games left: 1
Next game: vs. BOS (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x - Tampa Bay Lightning

Points: 108
Regulation wins: 38
Playoff position: A3
Games left: 1
Next game: @ NYI (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x - Boston Bruins

Points: 107
Regulation wins: 40
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 1
Next game: @ TOR (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

e - Buffalo Sabres

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 1
Next game: vs. CHI (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e - Detroit Red Wings

Points: 72
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 1
Next game: @ NJ (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e - Ottawa Senators

Points: 71
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 1
Next game: @ PHI (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e - Montreal Canadiens

Points: 53
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 1
Next game: vs. FLA (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Metropolitan Division

y - Carolina Hurricanes

Points: 116
Regulation wins: 47
Playoff position: M1
Games left: 0
Next game: N/A
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x - New York Rangers

Points: 108
Regulation wins: 43
Playoff position: M2
Games left: 1
Next game: vs. WSH (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x - Pittsburgh Penguins

Points: 101
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: M3
Games left: 1
Next game: vs. CBJ (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x - Washington Capitals

Points: 100
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 1
Next game: @ NYR (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

e - New York Islanders

Points: 84
Regulation wins: 34
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 1
Next game: vs. TB (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e - Columbus Blue Jackets

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 1
Next game: @ PIT (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e - New Jersey Devils

Points: 63
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 1
Next game: vs. DET (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e - Philadelphia Flyers

Points: 61
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 1
Next game: vs. OTT (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Central Division

z - Colorado Avalanche

Points: 119
Regulation wins: 46
Playoff position: C1
Games left: 1
Next game: @ MIN (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x - Minnesota Wild

Points: 111
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: C2
Games left: 1
Next game: vs. COL (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x - St. Louis Blues

Points: 109
Regulation wins: 43
Playoff position: C3
Games left: 1
Next game: vs. VGK (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x - Nashville Predators

Points: 97
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 1
Next game: @ ARI (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x - Dallas Stars

Points: 96
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 1
Next game: vs. ANA (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

e - Winnipeg Jets

Points: 85
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Next game: vs. CGY (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e - Chicago Blackhawks

Points: 67
Regulation wins: 16
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 1
Next game: @ BUF (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e - Arizona Coyotes

Points: 55
Regulation wins: 17
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 1
Next game: vs. NSH (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Pacific Division

y - Calgary Flames

Points: 111
Regulation wins: 44
Playoff position: P1
Games left: 1
Next game: @ WPG (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x - Edmonton Oilers

Points: 102
Regulation wins: 38
Playoff position: P2
Games left: 1
Next game: vs. VAN (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x - Los Angeles Kings

Points: 98
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: P3
Games left: 0
Next game: N/A
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

e - Vegas Golden Knights

Points: 92
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 1
Next game: @ STL (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e - Vancouver Canucks

Points: 91
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 1
Next game: @ EDM (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e - San Jose Sharks

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 22
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 1
Next game: @ SEA (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e - Anaheim Ducks

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 22
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 1
Next game: @ DAL (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e - Seattle Kraken

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 22
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Next game: vs. SJ (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 can 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. Montreal Canadiens

Points: 53
Regulation wins: 15

2. Arizona Coyotes

Points: 55
Regulation wins: 17

3. Seattle Kraken

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 22

4. Philadelphia Flyers

Points: 61
Regulation wins: 20

5. New Jersey Devils

Points: 63
Regulation wins: 19

6. Chicago Blackhawks

Points: 67
Regulation wins: 16

7. Ottawa Senators

Points: 71
Regulation wins: 25

8. Detroit Red Wings

Points: 72
Regulation wins: 20

9. Buffalo Sabres

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 25

10. Anaheim Ducks

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 22

11. San Jose Sharks

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 22

12. Columbus Blue Jackets

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 26

13. New York Islanders

Points: 84
Regulation wins: 34

14. Winnipeg Jets

Points: 85
Regulation wins: 30

15. Vancouver Canucks

Points: 91
Regulation wins: 32

16. Vegas Golden Knights

Points: 92
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.