Breaking down the (early) NHL playoff picture

Ian McLaren
Tim Fuller / USA TODAY Sports

At the conclusion of Tuesday's jam-packed 12-game schedule, NHL teams teams have anywhere from 11 to 14 games left to play. While there's still much to be determined in terms of playoff qualification and seeding, the picture is getting clearer every day.

What follows is a look at each team's chances of making the playoffs prior to game played on March 19 (as per sportsclubstats.com). 

Note: Teams with a star next to them currently hold wild card spots. As per sportsclubstats, these percentages are based on a weighted method that takes the opponents record and home-ice advantage into account when randomly picking scores, so the better team is more likely to win. 

Also, "Out" or "0" does not necessarily mean mathematically eliminated; rather, in the millions of times the season could be played out, the team in question would never made the playoffs (likewise for "In" and "100'). 

Therefore, these numbers are accurate enough to be a useful, interesting tool, but can't be taken as gospel. 

Atlantic Division

Team Points Game Remaining Playoff Chances
Boston Bruins 99 13 In
Tampa Bay Lightning 81 14 99.2
Montreal Canadiens 83 12 97.4
*Toronto Maple Leafs 80 12 75.9
Detroit Red Wings 75 14 42.4
Ottawa Senators 69 14 2.4
Florida Panthers 60 13 0
Buffalo Sabres 46 13 Out

The top three teams in the Atlantic are virtual locks, while the Red Wings kept their hopes alive with a 3-2 win over the Maple Leafs on Tuesday, although Toronto has two games in hand on Detroit. Unfortunately for the Senators, their collapse against the Canadiens on March 15 and an 8-4 loss to the Rangers on Tuesday basically quashed their hopes.

Metropolitan Division

Team Points Game Remaining Playoff Chances
Pittsburgh Penguins 94 14 100
Philadelphia Flyers 79 14 89.4
New York Rangers 78 12 80.5
*Columbus Blue Jackets 76 14 73.3
Washington Capitals 76 12 20.9
New Jersey Devils 71 13 17.3
Carolina Hurricanes 69 13 1.4
New York Islanders 61 12 0

Six teams remain alive in the Metro, and the Capitals did themselves a big favor with a 3-2 win in Anaheim on Tuesday. The Flyers and Blue Jackets hold an advantage with two games in hand on the Rangers and Capitals, while the Devils' chances appears to be fading after a loss to Boston.

Central Division

Team Points Game Remaining Playoff Chances
St. Louis Blues 101 14 In
Colorado Avalanche 93 13 100
Chicago Blackhawks 93 13 100
*Minnesota Wild 82 13 92.6
Dallas Stars 75 14 49.1
Winnipeg Jets 71 12 1.2
Nashville Predators 68 13 0.3

The big question in the Central is whether the young Stars - losers of two in a row - can hang on and grab the second wild card spot (presently held by the Coyotes, as seen below). The top four teams in this division are basically set, with the Avalanche and Blackhawks jockeying for home-ice advantage in their eventual first-round series.

Pacific Division

Team Points Game Remaining Playoff Chances
Anaheim Ducks 97 13 100
San Jose Sharks 97 12 100
Los Angeles Kings 82 13 98.4
*Phoenix Coyotes 77 13 57
Vancouver Canucks 72 11 1.4
Calgary Flames 63 13 0
Edmonton Oilers 59 12 0

While the Pacific Division crown remains up for grabs, all that's left to be decided here is the Coyotes' inclusion in the playoff picture. Winners of two in a row, Phoenix has a better chance of qualifying than Dallas, but the Stars have a game in hand. 

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