We’re down to the last month of the 2022-23 NHL regular season, and the playoff races are tightening, especially in the Western Conference. As of this writing, only one team has clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs – the Boston Bruins, who are winning at an historic clip. The playoff format gives playoff spots to the top three teams from each division and to two wild cards from each conference. Within each conference, the top division winner plays the second wild card team, and the other division winner plays the first wild card. The second- and third-place teams in each division play each other in the first round. Points (two for a win, one for an overtime or shootout loss) determine seeding, and the first two tiebreakers are wins in regulation and regulation plus overtime wins. Let’s look NHL betting analysis and how the playoffs would unfold if they started today.
NHL News: Updated Playoff Picture
Eastern Conference – Atlantic Division
1st place: Boston Bruins (53-11-5, 105 points). The B’s have an .804 winning percentage and have 46 regulation wins. Add in their seven overtime wins, and they have 53. Currently, they would take on a dangerous, but porous, Florida Panthers team in the first round.
2nd place: Toronto Maple Leafs (42-18-9, 93 points). The Maple Leafs did give themselves three points of breathing room over Tampa Bay when they took down Ottawa in a Saturday night shootout.
3rd place: Tampa Bay Lightning (42-23-6, 90 points). The Lightning have lacked their usual consistency this season, although they did have a three-game winning streak coming into last week. However, they lost to New Jersey and couldn’t keep pace with Toronto. The Lightning and Leafs would face off in the first round, with the Leafs holding home ice, if the season ended today.
Eastern Conference – Metropolitan Division
1st place: Carolina Hurricanes (45-15-8, 98 points). The Hurricanes and Devils are fighting neck-and-neck for the lead in the Metropolitan Division. If the Hurricanes can hold on, they would face the New York Islanders in the first round.
2nd place: New Jersey Devils (45-18-7, 97 points). Tampa Bay had beaten New Jersey twice in a row in the last few weeks, but the Devils turned the tables on Sunday in a 5-2 beating.
3rd place: New York Rangers (41-19-10, 92 points). The Rangers have won four in a row and beat Pittsburgh and Nashville by a combined 13-0 score this past weekend. With this kind of offense, the Blueshirts are a scary team. They would face the Devils in the first round if the season ended today, with the Devils holding home ice.
Eastern Conference – Wild Card Standings
- New York Islanders (36-27-8, 80 points). Even without Mathew Barzal, the Isles have kept things up and running, winning five of their last seven and moving into a wild card position.
- Florida Panthers (36-27-7, 79 points) Ottawa knocked off Pittsburgh, giving room to the Panthers to move into the wild card conversation after they beat Detroit, 5-2, on Monday.
- Pittsburgh Penguins (34-26-10, 78 points). This four-game losing streak has seen the Penguins get outscored, 18-7. The defense needs to reconstitute itself if the Pens have any chance at the playoffs.
- Ottawa Senators (34-31-5, 73 points)
- Washington Capitals (33-31-7, 73 points)
- Buffalo Sabres (33-30-6, 72 points)
Western Conference – Central Division
1st place: Dallas Stars (38-19-14, 90 points) The Stars are 7-14 in overtime this season. That inability to handle 3-on-3 hockey is what has kept this race close. It will take just a few losses for the Stars to fall all the way out of the playoffs. If they can hold on for the division title, they would face the Seattle Kraken in the first round.
2nd place: Colorado Avalanche (41-22-6, 88 points) The Avs have dealt with multiple injuries, but they are just two games behind the Stars with two games in hand.
3rd place: Minnesota Wild (40-22-8, 86 points) The Wild have won four of six and could still take the Central crown, thanks to the Stars’ inability to finish close games. As things stand, thte Wild would meet the Avalanche in the first round, with Colorado holding home ice.
Western Conference – Pacific Division
1st place: Vegas Golden Knights (43-21-6, 92 points) Vegas has won five of six and is rounding into dominant form right now. They would face Winnipeg in the first round.
2nd place: Los Angeles Kings (41-20-10, 92 points) The Kings are even with the Golden Knights in terms of points, and their offense is white-hot right now. On Tuesday, they routed Calgary, 8-2.
3rd place: Edmonton Oilers (40-23-8, 88 points) The trade deadline has benefited the Oilers significantly, as they have won six of their last seven overall. If the season ended today, the Oilers and Kings would square off, with the Kings holding home ice.
Western Conference – Wild Card Standings
- Seattle Kraken (38-24-7, 83 points) The Kraken have dropped four of five to slide back into the wild card, but they could get hot again just as easily.
- Winnipeg Jets (39-29-3, 81 points) The Jets are four points clear of Calgary despite dropping three of four, so there is still room for teams to sneak in.
- Calgary Flames (31-24-15, 77 points)
- Nashville Predators (34-26-8, 76 points)
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