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NHL Push for the Playoffs: The First Round matchups still to be determined

nhl playoffs schedule

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 01: The Stanley Cup trophy sits on a table during a ceremony before the Chicago Blackhawks tsake on the Washington Capitals at the United Center on October 1, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Capitals 6-4. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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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.

We know the 16 teams that are going to be in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and we know some of the matchups for the First Round that are already locked in.

What we know so far:

Colorado, Carolina, Calgary, and Florida are locked in as division champions, with Colorado and Florida owning the top seeds in each conference and still vying for the Presidents’ Trophy.

We also know in the Western Conference that St. Louis and Minnesota are going to play in the 2 vs. 3 matchup in the Central Division, while Edmonton and Los Angeles are going to meet in the 2 vs. 3 matchup in the Pacific Division. That only thing that remains to be decided is which Wild Card teams Colorado and Calgary will play. The Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars are going to be those two teams, while they enter play on Thursday with the Stars owning a one point lead over the Predators. Whichever team finishes with the better record will play Calgary in the First Round and be put into the Pacific Division bracket, while the lower of the team will play Colorado and play in the Central bracket. Given the overall strength of the top-three teams in the Central there is a definite advantage to being in the top Wild Card spot and getting that Pacific Division draw.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

In the Eastern Conference, none of the matchups are set just yet.

The top two seeds in each division are set (Florida and Toronto in the Atlantic; Carolina and New York in the Metropolitan) but the matchups for each team are not yet set.

In the Metropolitan, Pittsburgh and Washington are competing for the No. 3 seed with the Penguins entering Thursday owning a one point lead over Washington. Both teams are looking at First Round matchups against either the Rangers or the top-seeded Florida Panthers. The Capitals can jump into the third spot in the Metropolitan Division with a win over the Islanders on Thursday. A loss, though, would put Pittsburgh back into the driver’s seat with its remaining game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.

In the Atlantic, it is Tampa Bay and Boston in a similar competition. The Lightning are in the driver’s seat for the No. 3 spot in the Atlantic and a meeting with Toronto, while the other will be the first Wild Card and play Carolina. Tampa Bay can secure that spot with a win against Columbus or a Boston loss to Buffalo.

IF PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY (sorted by points percentage)

Panthers vs. Capitals
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning

Hurricanes vs. Bruins
Rangers vs. Penguins

Avalanche vs. Predators
Wild vs. Blues

Flames vs. Stars
Oilers vs. Kings


Capitals vs. Islanders, 7 p.m. ET
Sabres vs. Bruins, 7 p.m. ET
Panthers vs. Senators, 7 p.m. ET
Lightning vs. Blue Jackets, 7 p.m. ET
Predators vs. Avalanche, 9 p.m. ET


• The Panthers will clinch the Presidents’ Trophy if they defeat Ottawa in any fashion AND Nashville defeats Colorado in any fashion; OR if they get one point AND Nashville wins in regulation.

Screen Shot 2022-04-28 at 9.22.52 AM


Panthers - clinched No. 1 seed in Eastern Conference
Maple Leafs - clinched
Lightning - clinched
Bruins - clinched
Red Wings - eliminated
Sabres - eliminated
Senators - eliminated
Canadiens - eliminated

Screen Shot 2022-04-28 at 9.22.46 AM


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

Screen Shot 2022-04-28 at 9.22.59 AM


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

Screen Shot 2022-04-28 at 9.23.05 AM


Flames - clinched Pacific Division
Oilers - clinched
Kings - clinched
Golden Knights - eliminated
Canucks - eliminated
Ducks - eliminated
Sharks - eliminated
Kraken - eliminated

draft lottery

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NHLI via Getty Images


18.5% - Canadiens
13.5% - Coyotes
11.5% - Kraken
9.5% - Flyers
8.5% - Devils
7.5% - Blackhawks (*conditional)
6.5% - Senators
6.0% - Red Wings
5.0% - Sabres
3.5% - Ducks
3.0% - Sharks
2.5% - Blue Jackets
2.0% - Islanders
1.5% - Jets
0.5% - Canucks
0.5% - Golden Knights (*conditional)

“Beginning this season there will be a limit on the total number of selections (10) a team participating in the lottery can move up in the event it wins one of the lottery draws, a change announced by the NHL on March 23, 2021. Only the top 11 seeds will be eligible to receive the No. 1 selection in the 2022 draft.”

The 2022 NHL Draft Lottery drawing will be held May 10


Connor McDavid, Oilers - 122 points
Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers - 115
Johnny Gaudreau, Flames - 113
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers - 109
Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs - 106
Kirill Kaprizov, Wild - 105


Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs - 60 goals
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers - 55
Chris Kreider, Rangers - 52
Alex Ovechkin, Capitals - 50
Kyle Connor, Jets - 46
Kirill Kaprizov, Wild - 45
Connor McDavid, Oilers - 44