The Western Conference Playoff Race: Intense Battles and Uncertain Outcomes
As the NHL regular season draws to a close, the Eastern Conference playoff picture seems relatively clear. However, it’s a completely different story in the Western Conference, where several teams are engaged in fierce playoff races that have the potential to be decided in the eleventh hour.
An Unsettled Western Conference
In the West, only the Colorado Avalanche have secured their playoff spot, leaving just four teams officially eliminated. In reality, about five teams are fiercely competing for three remaining playoff berths, intensifying the race.
Kings Defending the Final Spot
In the Central Division, the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues have all but solidified their playoff berths. Similarly, the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers hold strong positions in the Pacific Division. It appears likely that the Flames will clinch the division easily, while the Oilers have a comfortable five-point lead over the ninth-place team with eight games remaining.
Overview of Playoff Odds
Let’s take a look at the current playoff odds for the teams in contention, according to DraftKings Sportsbook:
- Nashville Predators: 89 points (-1000)
- Dallas Stars: 88 points (-1200)
- Los Angeles Kings: 88 points (-200)
- Vegas Golden Knights: 85 points (+105)
- Vancouver Canucks: 82 points (+650)
Tight Competition for Wild Card Spots
While there is some uncertainty beyond the top four, it is widely believed that both the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars have strong chances of securing wild card positions. With nine games remaining for each team, the Predators hold a one-point advantage over the Stars. DraftKings Sportsbook predicts a high probability of both teams reaching the playoffs, with Dallas at -1200 and Nashville at -1000.
The Challenge for the Kings
On the surface, the Los Angeles Kings may appear to be in a comfortable position with 88 points, sitting three points ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights. However, the Kings have already played 76 games, whereas most other teams have two or three games in hand. Despite being favored at -200 to make the playoffs, the Kings will need a strong performance in their final six contests to maintain their confidence in moving forward.
Golden Knights’ Hopeful Quest
The Vegas Golden Knights, currently three points behind the Kings and Stars, still have eight games left to play. Their games in hand against Los Angeles provide a glimmer of hope, and DraftKings gives them +105 odds of securing a playoff spot.
The Longshot Canucks
In contrast, the Vancouver Canucks face a challenging uphill battle, with +650 odds of making the playoffs. They are six points behind the Kings with eight games remaining. Even with their games in hand, it would require an impressive winning streak and assistance from the Kings to bridge the gap.
The Eastern Conference Story
While the Western Conference is engulfed in a thrilling race, the Eastern Conference playoff situation is quite different. Four teams have already clinched playoff berths, and four others have substantial leads over the rest of the pack. For instance, the New York Islanders, currently in ninth place, are a daunting 15 points behind with just 10 games left in their schedule.
A Clear Divide in the West
The unique contrast between the conferences hasn’t gone unnoticed. Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe remarked, “For whatever reason, in the East this year there’s been a more clear divide and it’s been jammed up there in the West,” highlighting the fiercely competitive nature of the Western Conference playoff race.
As the NHL regular season reaches its climax, the Western Conference playoff race is reaching a thrilling crescendo. The battles for the remaining playoff berths are intense, with teams fighting tooth and nail to secure their spots. While some teams seem to be in favorable positions, anything can happen in the final few games, keeping fans on the edge of their seats.
1. Will the Vancouver Canucks make the playoffs?
Despite their challenging situation and being considered longshots, the Vancouver Canucks still have a mathematical chance to make the playoffs. However, they would need an impressive winning streak and help from other teams.
2. Which teams have the best odds of making the playoffs in the Western Conference?
As of now, the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars are seen as strong contenders to secure wild card positions. With nine games remaining for each team, both are in a good position to reach the playoffs.
3. Are the Los Angeles Kings in a secure playoff position?
The Los Angeles Kings currently hold the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 88 points. However, they have already played more games than most other teams, making their position less secure. They will need to perform well in their remaining games to solidify their playoff chances.
4. How many teams from each conference make the playoffs?
In the NHL, the top three teams from each division make the playoffs. In addition, the next two teams from each conference with the highest point totals, regardless of their division, secure the wild card spots.
5. Has any team in the Western Conference clinched a playoff spot?
Yes, the Colorado Avalanche have already clinched a playoff spot in the Western Conference, making them the only team to do so at this stage of the season.