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NHL Push for the Playoffs: Predators can gain breathing room in playoff race

nhl push for the playoffs

NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 16: Nashville Predators center Matt Duchene (95) celebrates his second period goal during the NHL game between the Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks, held on April 16, 2022, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire 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.

Right now, there are a few different ways the final Western Conference playoff spots can shake out. (And those are realistic ways, not far-fetched routes for the Canucks to finish in the top eight.)

That said, both the Predators and Stars improved their chances of locking down one of the West’s two wild-card spots on Saturday. While the Predators and Stars won, the Golden Knights fell to the Oilers. That leaves the Stars and Predators with 91 standings points and seven games remaining apiece. The Golden Knights, meanwhile, slipped to six games remaining, and stayed at 87 standings points.

Before Saturday, it was already tough to imagine the Golden Knights making the playoffs unless they grabbed the third Pacific Division spot from the Kings. Saturday made those odds even more distant.

If the Predators win on Sunday, they can grow their lead over Vegas to six standings points, which would be a nigh-impossible gap to close with six games left.

Considering their eight-game winning streak (and 9-0-1 run in 10 games), the Blues are not an easy opponent for the Predators. That said, the Blues clinched a playoff spot on Saturday, and are closing off a back-to-back set -- much like the Predators.

Perhaps that might take just a tiny bit of edge off of the Blues’ game? This isn’t do-or-die for Nashville, but a win here would reduce anxiety considerably.

(Maybe they’d even *gasp* take an opportunity to rest some of their highest-mileage players after a hypothetical win vs. the Blues?)

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 Blues vs. Wild

PACIFIC DIVISION Flames vs. Predators Oilers vs. Kings


Blues vs. Predators, 6 p.m. ET

Screen Shot 2022-04-17 at 7.38.47 AM


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

Screen Shot 2022-04-17 at 7.38.56 AM


Hurricanes - clinched Rangers - clinched Penguins - clinched Capitals - 99.99% Islanders - 0% Blue Jackets - eliminated Flyers - eliminated Devils - eliminated

Screen Shot 2022-04-17 at 7.39.06 AM


Avalanche - clinched No. 1 seed in Western Conference Blues - clinched Wild - 100% Stars - 93.7 Predators - 91.9% Jets - 0% Blackhawks - eliminated Coyotes - eliminated

Screen Shot 2022-04-17 at 7.39.12 AM


Flames - clinched Oilers - 99.8% Kings - 80.1% Golden Knights - 30.2% Canucks - 4.3% Ducks - eliminated Sharks - eliminated Kraken - eliminated

draft lottery

Getty Images

NHLI via Getty Images


16.6% - Coyotes 12.1% - Canadiens 10.9% - Kraken 9.7% - Flyers 8.5% - Devils 7.6% - Blackhawks (*conditional) 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)


Connor McDavid, Oilers - 110 points Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers - 108 Leon Draisaitl, Oilers - 105 Johnny Gaudreau, Flames - 105 Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs - 102 Matthew Tkachuk, Flames - 96


Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs - 58 goals Leon Draisaitl, Oilers - 54 Chris Kreider, Rangers - 50 Alex Ovechkin, Capitals - 47 Kyle Connor, Jets - 43 Kirill Kaprizov, Wild - 43 Connor McDavid, Oilers - 42