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NHL Playoff Push: East field could be set; Predators eyeing Presidents’ Trophy


A quiet three-game night on Wednesday is followed by a busy Thursday evening that could see three teams clinch playoff spots and complete the Eastern Conference field and the Presidents’ Trophy get a new address for 2018. And in non-playoff news, tonight will also see Daniel and Henrik Sedin play their final home game as members of the Vancouver Canucks.

Let’s see how the East is shaping up with a couple of days left to go:

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The Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers could all punch their tickets to the dance Thursday night. For the Blue Jackets, they need at least one point against the Pittsburgh Penguins or they need the Florida Panthers to lose to the Boston Bruins.

In New Jersey, a win for the Devils against the Toronto Maple Leafs and they’re in. They can also get an “x” next to their name in the standings if they manage one point against Toronto and the Panthers lose to the Bruins or if Florida suffers a regulation loss to Boston.
[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

The Flyers need some help tonight for a postseason berth. They need to beat the Carolina Hurricanes and have the Panthers lose to the Bruins or they can take one point against Carolina and Florida drops their game against Boston in regulation.

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Only one spot left in the West and the Colorado Avalanche could really take advantage of the Chicago Blackhawks’ stunning defeat of the St. Louis Blues by topping the San Jose Sharks tonight. There are no clinching scenarios on Thursday, but an Avs win would put them on the brink of a playoff berth. St. Louis visits Chicago on Friday night before meeting Colorado on Saturday, which could be a winner-take-all game.

The only other meaningful game in the West tonight is the Nashville Predators taking on the Washington Capitals (Watch live at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN or our live stream). The Preds could clinch the Presidents’ Trophy, Western Conference and Central Division title. Here are their scenarios:

Presidents’ Trophy
• Beat the Capitals and the Bruins lose to the Panthers in regulation

Western Conference
• Beat the Capitals
• Get one point vs. Washington and the Winnipeg Jets lose to the Calgary Flames
• Jets lose to the Flames in regulation and Vegas Golden Knights fall to the Edmonton Oilers

Central Division
• Beat the Capitals
• Manage one point against the Capitals and Winnipeg loses to Calgary
• Jets lose to the Flames in regulation

If The Playoffs Started Today


Thursday’s Key Games
Toronto Maple Leafs at New Jersey Devils, 7 p.m. ET
Carolina Hurricanes at Philadelphia Flyers, 7 p.m. ET
Nashville Predators at Washington Capitals, 7 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets, 7 p.m. ET
Boston Bruins at Florida Panthers, 7 p.m. ET
Colorado Avalanche at San Jose Sharks, 10:30 p.m. ET

The Tank Watch!
The Buffalo Sabres made history on Wednesday becoming the first NHL team to clinch 31st place. That also meant they earned the best odds in the 2018 Draft Lottery for the third time in five years.

1 – Sabres (18.5 percent), 62 points, 80 games, 24 ROW
2 – Senators (13.5), 67 points, 80 GP, 26 ROW
3 – Canadiens (11.5) 69 points, 80 GP, 26 ROW
4 – Coyotes (9.5), 69 points, 80 GP, 27 ROW
5 – Canucks (8.5), 70 points, 80 GP, 30 ROW
6 – Red Wings (7.5) 72 points, 80 GP, 25 ROW
7 – Oilers (6.5) 74 points, 80 GP, 30 ROW
8 – Islanders (6.0) 76 points, 80 GP, 30 ROW
9 – Blackhawks (5.0) 76 points, 80 GP, 32 ROW
10 – Rangers (3.5), 77 points, 80 GP, 31 ROW
11 – Hurricanes (3.0) 81 points, 80 GP, 32 ROW
12 – Flames (2.5) 82 points, 80 GP, 34 ROW (*Pick owned by NYI)
13 – Stars (2.0) 90 points, 80 GP, 37 ROW
14 – Panthers (1.5) 90 points, 79 GP, 38 ROW
15 – Blues (1.0) 92 points, 80 GP, 40 ROW


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.