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NHL Push for the Playoffs: Path for Golden Knights keeps getting tougher

golden knights playoffs

WINNIPEG, MB - MARCH 22: Head Coach Pete DeBoer of the Vegas Golden Knights looks on from the bench during first period action against the Winnipeg Jets at the Canada Life Centre on March 22, 2022 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

Push for the Playoffs will run every morning through the end of the 2021-22 NHL season. We’ll highlight the current playoff picture in both conferences, take a look at what the first-round matchups might look like, see who’s leading the race for the best odds in the draft lottery and more.

After losing to the Devils on Monday night, at home, with their already slim Stanley Cup playoff chances teetering on the edge of collapse, the Golden Knights find themselves in a pretty dire position entering Wednesday’s game against the Capitals.

Their situation only got worse on Tuesday night even though they had the night off.

It was there that the gap between them and the playoff teams they are chasing only managed to increase thanks to wins by the Kings and Predators, as well as the Canucks gaining a point in a shootout loss to the Senators.

The result of the past 48 hours for the Golden Knights? A five-point deficit behind the Kings in the race for third place in the Pacific Division, a six-point deficit behind the Predators for the first Wild Card spot, and still a four-point gap behind the Stars for the second Wild Card spot while the Stars still have two games in hand. Even worse, they are now tied in the standings with the Canucks with 87 points.

Including Wednesday’s game against Washington, Vegas will play three of its remaining five games against potential playoff teams, with games against Dallas and St. Louis still remaining. The latter two games are on the road.

That Dallas game could be make-or-break for a playoff spot and is going to be one of the biggest games remaining on the schedule.

This is a potential obstacle because the Kings play nothing but non-playoff teams the rest of the way, while Dallas also has games against Seattle, Anaheim, and Arizona. If the Kings and Dallas take care of business in the games they are expected to win, it makes it even more difficult for Vegas to gain that ground. Nashville has by far the toughest remaining schedule out of this group (Calgary, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Colorado, and Arizona), but it still enters the day with a significant cushion over the Golden Knights.

Even when you take into account the injury situation for the Golden Knights this season it is still amazing to see them in this position needing to basically win out and get help just to make the playoffs.

It is also difficult to use the injuries as an excuse when you consider what other teams in the league have dealt with this season. Yes, Vegas has played much of the season without Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, Alec Martinez, and Reilly Smith, among others.

The two counter points to that is teams like Washington, Pittsburgh, Colorado, and even LA have dealt with significant injuries all year. The Capitals played half of the season without Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, and Anthony Mantha. The Penguins played half of the season without Evgeni Malkin, started the year without Sidney Crosby, and missed Bryan Rust and Jason Zucker for significant parts of the season. Colorado has been without Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Devon Toews, Samuel Girard, Valeri Nichushkin, and Bowen Byram. The Kings were starting from a way lower talent level, have been devastated by injuries all year on defense, and are still ahead of Vegas.

The other counter point is Vegas’ self created salary cap and roster issues. The Golden Knights chose to keep Robin Lehner over Marc-Andre Fleury. They chose to trade for Evgenii Dadaonov over the summer (who they tried to trade away at the trade deadline) knowing their salary cap situation. They chose to trade for Jack Eichel knowing how it would impact their salary cap situation and how long he would be out. Those were all choices they made.

IF PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY (sorted by points percentage)

ATLANTIC DIVISION Panthers vs. Capitals Maple Leafs vs. Lightning

METROPOLITAN DIVISION Hurricanes vs. Bruins Rangers vs. Penguins

CENTRAL DIVISION Avalanche vs. Stars Wild vs. Blues

PACIFIC DIVISION Flames vs. Predators Oilers vs. Kings


Stars vs. Oilers, 8:30 p.m. ET Capitals vs. Golden Knights, 10 p.m. ET Avalanche vs. Kraken, 10 p.m. ET

Screen Shot 2022-04-20 at 8.56.27 AM


Panthers - clinched Maple Leafs - clinched Lightning - clinched Bruins - clinched Red Wings - eliminated Sabres - eliminated Senators - eliminated Canadiens - eliminated

Screen Shot 2022-04-20 at 8.56.20 AM


Hurricanes - clinched Rangers - clinched Penguins - clinched Capitals - clinched Islanders - eliminated Blue Jackets - eliminated Flyers - eliminated Devils - eliminated

Screen Shot 2022-04-20 at 8.56.35 AM


Avalanche - clinched No. 1 seed in Western Conference Blues - clinched Wild - clinched Predators - 97% Stars - 92.7% Jets - 0% Blackhawks - eliminated Coyotes - eliminated

Screen Shot 2022-04-20 at 8.56.42 AM


Flames - clinched Oilers - 99.9% Kings - 91.9% Golden Knights - 13.5% Canucks - 5.1% Ducks - eliminated Sharks - eliminated Kraken - eliminated

draft lottery

Getty Images

NHLI via Getty Images


16.6% - Coyotes 12.1% - Canadiens 10.9% - Flyers 9.7% - Kraken 8.5% - Blackhawks (*conditional) 7.6% - Devils 6.7% - Senators 5.8% - Sabres 5.4% - Red Wings 4.5% - Sharks 3.1% - Ducks 2.7% - Blue Jackets 2.2% - Jets 1.8% - Islanders 1.4% - Canucks 1% - Golden Knights (*conditional)

The 2022 NHL Draft lottery will be held May 10.


Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers - 111 points Connor McDavid, Oilers - 110 Johnny Gaudreau, Flames - 108 Leon Draisaitl, Oilers - 105 Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs - 102 Matthew Tkachuk, Flames - 99


Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs - 58 goals Leon Draisaitl, Oilers - 54 Chris Kreider, Rangers - 50 Alex Ovechkin, Capitals - 48 Kyle Connor, Jets - 43 Kirill Kaprizov, Wild - 43 Connor McDavid, Oilers - 42