NHL Playoff Watch Daily: Blackhawks, Rangers, Flames face critical matchups

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As the end of April nears, many teams around the NHL are down to a single-digit number of games remaining on the schedule. In other words, time is running out for clubs currently on the bubble to make a glorious run into playoff position. Three such teams chasing that dream will take the ice on Friday night, in the Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers and Calgary Flames.

The Blackhawks are three points behind the No. 4-seeded Nashville Predators, a team they’ll face tonight at the United Center (streaming live on ESPN+). The bad news is that Nashville leads the season series 6-1; the good news is that the “1” came Wednesday night.

Chances for a playoff appearance by the Blueshirts are a little slimmer, as they’re eight points back of the Boston Bruins, and the B’s have two games in hand. But if such a run is possible, it’ll likely have to include a win Friday night against the Philadelphia Flyers. Philly is up 4-3 in the season series against New York, and tonight’s game (also streaming live on ESPN+) is at Madison Square Garden, where the Flyers won 3-2 on Thursday night.

For the Flames, it’s a home matchup against the Montreal Canadiens, against whom they lead the season series 4-2. Similar to the Rangers’ situation, the Flames are eight points back of the Habs, so a win tonight is extra critical.

As we enter 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

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0:24

David Pastrnak is given too much room and he makes the Sabres pay with a goal in the Bruins’ 5-1 win.

Points: 64
Regulation wins: 24
Playoff position: E1
Games left: 9
Next game: @ NYI (Apr. 24)
Playoff chances: 99.8%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 63
Regulation wins: 23
Playoff position: E2
Games left: 9
Next game: vs. NJ (Apr. 24)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

2 Related

Points: 63
Regulation wins: 21
Playoff position: E3
Games left: 9
Next game: vs. WSH (Apr. 24)
Playoff chances: 99.1%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 60
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: E4
Games left: 11
Next game: @ BUF (Apr. 23)
Playoff chances: 99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 52
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 9
Next game: vs. PHI (Apr. 23)
Playoff chances: 2%
Tragic number: 11

Points: 49
Regulation wins: 14
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 10
Next game: @ NYR (Apr. 23)
Playoff chances: 0.2%
Tragic number: 9

Points: 34
Regulation wins: 11
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 10
Next game: @ PIT (Apr. 24)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 31
Regulation wins: 9
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 9
Next game: vs. BOS (Apr. 23)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Central Division

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0:24

Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas exchange passes before Aho scores the first of two short-handed goals in Carolina’s 4-2 win over Florida.

Points: 67
Regulation wins: 23
Playoff position: C1
Games left: 10
Next game: @ FLA (Apr. 24)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 65
Regulation wins: 22
Playoff position: C2
Games left: 8
Next game: vs. CAR (Apr. 24)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 64
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: C3
Games left: 9
Next game: vs. CBJ (Apr. 25)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 52
Regulation wins: 17
Playoff position: C4
Games left: 8
Next game: @ CHI (Apr. 23)
Playoff chances: 49.7%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 50
Regulation wins: 16
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 10
Next game: @ DET (Apr. 24)
Playoff chances: 43.6%
Tragic number: 18

Points: 49
Regulation wins: 14
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 9
Next game: vs. NSH (Apr. 23)
Playoff chances: 6.7%
Tragic number: 15

Points: 41
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Next game: vs. DAL (Apr. 24)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: 3

Points: 39
Regulation wins: 11
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Next game: @ TB (Apr. 25)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: 1


North Division

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0:21

Auston Matthews matches his jersey number with his 34th goal of the season in Toronto’s 5-3 win over Winnipeg.

Points: 63
Regulation wins: 23
Playoff position: N1
Games left: 9
Next game: @ WPG (Apr. 24)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 57
Regulation wins: 21
Playoff position: N2
Games left: 10
Next game: vs. TOR (Apr. 24)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 56
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: N3
Games left: 11
Next game: @ WPG (Apr. 26)
Playoff chances: 99.4%
Tragic number: N/A

A panel of NHL players, coaches, GMs and other front-office personnel ranked the best players at each position:

Centers
Wingers
Defensemen
Goalies

Points: 49
Regulation wins: 18
Playoff position: N4
Games left: 12
Next game: @ CGY (Apr. 23)
Playoff chances: 88.7%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 41
Regulation wins: 16
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 11
Next game: vs. MTL (Apr. 23)
Playoff chances: 8.5%
Tragic number: 14

Points: 39
Regulation wins: 12
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 16
Next game: vs. OTT (Apr. 24)
Playoff chances: 3.5%
Tragic number: 22

Points: 38
Regulation wins: 13
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 9
Next game: @ VAN (Apr. 24)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: 7


West Division

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0:33

Andre Burakovsky records two goals in the Avalanche’s 4-2 win over the Blues.

Points: 68
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: W1
Games left: 10
Next game: @ ANA (Apr. 24)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 66
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: W2
Games left: 12
Next game: @ STL (Apr. 24)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 61
Regulation wins: 24
Playoff position: W3
Games left: 11
Next game: @ LA (Apr. 23)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 45
Regulation wins: 16
Playoff position: W4
Games left: 9
Next game: @ LA (Apr. 24)
Playoff chances: 20.2%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 44
Regulation wins: 13
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 12
Next game: vs. COL (Apr. 24)
Playoff chances: 39.7%
Tragic number: 23

Points: 41
Regulation wins: 12
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 10
Next game: vs. MIN (Apr. 24)
Playoff chances: 6.3%
Tragic number: 16

Points: 40
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 13
Next game: vs. MIN (Apr. 23)
Playoff chances: 33.8%
Tragic number: 21

Points: 35
Regulation wins: 9
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 9
Next game: vs. VGS (Apr. 24)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: 8


Current playoff matchups

East Division

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

Central Division

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

North Division

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

West Division

No. 1 Vegas Golden Knights vs. No. 4 Arizona Coyotes
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.

Who will be the top pick this summer? »
• Early top-32 prospect rankings »
• How COVID-19 will impact evaluations »

Points: 31
Regulation wins: 9

Points: 34
Regulation wins: 11

Points: 35
Regulation wins: 9

Points: 38
Regulation wins: 13

Points: 39
Regulation wins: 11

Points: 39
Regulation wins: 12

Points: 40
Regulation wins: 15

Points: 41
Regulation wins: 12

Points: 41
Regulation wins: 15

Points: 41
Regulation wins: 16

Points: 44
Regulation wins: 13

Points: 49
Regulation wins: 14

Points: 49
Regulation wins: 14

Points: 50
Regulation wins: 16

Points: 52
Regulation wins: 20





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