NHL playoff watch: Clash of the Western titans on tap as Avalanche visit Canucks

Sports

Following last night’s packed 10-game NHL slate, Wednesday is relatively light with just four games on the docket. However, there are some superb matchups on tap, highlighted by two Western Conference juggernauts squaring off.

In the late game, the Colorado Avalanche will visit the Vancouver Canucks (10:30 p.m. ET, NHL Power Play on ESPN+). Each team is packed with superstars up for some end-of-season hardware, and it would not be surprising to see either of those clubs representing the West in the 2024 Stanley Cup Final.

Heading into tonight’s matchup, the Canucks own the No. 1 seed in the Pacific Division (and the Western Conference) and are currently slated to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round. According to Stathletes’ projections, they have a 29.0% chance to reach the conference finals, 14.5% chance to make the Cup Final and a 7.0% chance to win it all.

As for the Avalanche, they hold the No. 3 seed in the Central Division, and would take on the Winnipeg Jets if the current standings hold. Stathletes doesn’t like their conference finals or Cup Final chances quite as much (28.7% and 13.5%, respectively), but gives them a 7.1% of winning the Cup.

The two teams have played twice this season: a 5-2 win for the Avs on Nov. 22, and a 3-1 win for the Avs on Feb. 20. Notably, Ryan Johansen scored Colorado’s two non-empty-net goals in that most recent game, and he has since been traded to the Philadelphia Flyers (who promptly waived him). Who wins tonight’s potential conference finals preview?

As we traverse the final stretch of the regular season, it’s time to check in on all the playoff races — along with the teams jockeying for position in the 2024 NHL draft lottery.

Note: Playoff chances are via Stathletes.

Jump ahead:
Current playoff matchups
Today’s schedule
Last night’s scores
Expanded standings
Race for No. 1 pick

Current playoff matchups

Eastern Conference

A1 Florida Panthers vs. WC2 New York Islanders
A2 Boston Bruins vs. A3 Toronto Maple Leafs
M1 New York Rangers vs. WC1 Tampa Bay Lightning
M2 Carolina Hurricanes vs. M3 Philadelphia Flyers

Western Conference

C1 Dallas Stars vs. WC1 Nashville Predators
C2 Winnipeg Jets vs. C3 Colorado Avalanche
P1 Vancouver Canucks vs. WC2 Vegas Golden Knights
P2 Edmonton Oilers vs. P3 Los Angeles Kings


Wednesday’s games

Note: All times ET. All games not on TNT or NHL Network are available via NHL Power Play, which is included in an ESPN+ subscription (local blackout restrictions apply).

Los Angeles Kings at St. Louis Blues, 7:30 p.m. (TNT)
Nashville Predators at Winnipeg Jets, 7:30 p.m.
Washington Capitals at Edmonton Oilers, 10 p.m. (TNT)
Colorado Avalanche at Vancouver Canucks, 10:30 p.m.


Tuesday’s scoreboard

Buffalo Sabres 7, Detroit Red Wings 3
Montreal Canadiens 3, Columbus Blue Jackets 0
Ottawa Senators 2, Pittsburgh Penguins 1 (OT)
Philadelphia Flyers 3, San Jose Sharks 2
New York Rangers 1, Carolina Hurricanes 0
Florida Panthers 4, Dallas Stars 3
Minnesota Wild 4, Arizona Coyotes 1
Chicago Blackhawks 7, Anaheim Ducks 2
Colorado Avalanche 6, Calgary Flames 2
Vegas Golden Knights 5, Seattle Kraken 4 (OT)


Expanded standings

Atlantic Division

Points: 94
Regulation wins: 37
Playoff position: A1
Games left: 16
Points pace: 117
Next game: @ CAR (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 91
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: A2
Games left: 15
Points pace: 111
Next game: @ MTL (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 82
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: A3
Games left: 18
Points pace: 105
Next game: @ PHI (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 99.6%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 74
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 17
Points pace: 93
Next game: vs. NYR (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 90.1%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 72
Regulation wins: 23
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 17
Points pace: 91
Next game: vs. ARI (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 32.6%
Tragic number: 34

Points: 67
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 16
Points pace: 83
Next game: vs. NYI (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 5.4%
Tragic number: 27

Points: 60
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 17
Points pace: 76
Next game: vs. BOS (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: 22

Points: 56
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 19
Points pace: 73
Next game: @ CBJ (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: 22


Metropolitan Division

Points: 90
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: M1
Games left: 17
Points pace: 114
Next game: @ TB (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 84
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: M2
Games left: 17
Points pace: 106
Next game: vs. FLA (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: M3
Games left: 16
Points pace: 94
Next game: vs. TOR (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 57.2%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 72
Regulation wins: 21
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 18
Points pace: 92
Next game: @ BUF (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 74.8%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 24
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 19
Points pace: 90
Next game: @ EDM (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 29.6%
Tragic number: 35

Points: 66
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 17
Points pace: 83
Next game: @ DAL (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 6.4%
Tragic number: 28

Points: 65
Regulation wins: 23
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 18
Points pace: 83
Next game: vs. SJ (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 4.2%
Tragic number: 29

Points: 54
Regulation wins: 17
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 17
Points pace: 68
Next game: vs. OTT (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: 16


Central Division

Points: 89
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: C1
Games left: 15
Points pace: 109
Next game: vs. NJ (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: C2
Games left: 18
Points pace: 112
Next game: vs. NSH (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: C3
Games left: 16
Points pace: 108
Next game: @ VAN (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 78
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 16
Points pace: 97
Next game: @ WPG (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 88.1%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 71
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 16
Points pace: 88
Next game: vs. ANA (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 12.7%
Tragic number: 26

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 17
Points pace: 87
Next game: vs. LA (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 1.4%
Tragic number: 26

Points: 57
Regulation wins: 21
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 16
Points pace: 71
Next game: @ NYI (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: 12

Points: 39
Regulation wins: 12
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 17
Points pace: 49
Next game: vs. LA (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Pacific Division

Points: 91
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: P1
Games left: 16
Points pace: 113
Next game: vs. COL (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: P2
Games left: 19
Points pace: 105
Next game: vs. WSH (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: P3
Games left: 18
Points pace: 99
Next game: @ STL (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 91.4%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 17
Points pace: 97
Next game: @ CGY (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 87.6%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 68
Regulation wins: 22
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 18
Points pace: 87
Next game: vs. WSH (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 12%
Tragic number: 27

Points: 67
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 17
Points pace: 85
Next game: vs. VGK (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 6.8%
Tragic number: 24

Points: 49
Regulation wins: 17
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 17
Points pace: 62
Next game: @ MIN (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: 6

Points: 39
Regulation wins: 12
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 18
Points pace: 50
Next game: @ PIT (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

P — Clinched Presidents’ Trophy; Y — Clinched division; X — Clinched playoff berth; E — Eliminated from playoff contention


Race for the No. 1 pick

The NHL uses a draft lottery to determine the order of the first round, so the team that finishes in last place is not guaranteed the No. 1 selection. As of 2021, a team can move up a maximum of 10 spots if it wins the lottery, so only 11 teams are eligible for the draw for the No. 1 pick. Full details on the process can be found here. Sitting No. 1 on the draft board for this summer is Macklin Celebrini, a freshman at Boston University.

Points: 39
Regulation wins: 12

Points: 41
Regulation wins: 13

Points: 49
Regulation wins: 17

Points: 54
Regulation wins: 17

Points: 56
Regulation wins: 19

Points: 57
Regulation wins: 21

Points: 60
Regulation wins: 15

Points: 65
Regulation wins: 23

Points: 66
Regulation wins: 26

Points: 67
Regulation wins: 25

Points: 67
Regulation wins: 26

Points: 68
Regulation wins: 22

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 24

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 25

Points: 71
Regulation wins: 25

Points: 72
Regulation wins: 23

* The Penguins’ first-round pick was traded to the Sharks as part of the Erik Karlsson trade. However, it is top-10 protected.

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