Push for the Playoffs: Seeding a bigger focus for Hurricanes, top East teams

·4 min read

Push for the Playoffs will run every morning through the end of the 2020-21 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.

When you get this deep into the NHL playoff push, you can boil down teams to a few categories. Different people will describe them in different ways. But, here are a few ways to look at various teams as the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs rapidly approach:

Surviving: From the Blues and Predators, to teams with shaky odds (Stars), to truly unlikely dreamers (Canucks). These are the teams that haven’t clinched yet, or haven’t been officially eliminated.

Thriving: Chalk this group up to “champagne problems,” or good problems to have. Teams like the Bruins, Hurricanes, Islanders, Penguins, and other already-clinched teams can now get greedy. They want the best possible playoff seed, with these last games not truly being “do-or-die.”

(Perhaps you can break things down to other “-ings.” Connor McDavid is striving to reach 100 points or more in 56 games or fewer. Lesser teams know might be driving themselves up in the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery order, or daydreaming about driving to a golf course in the very near future.)

[Your 2020-21 NHL on NBC TV schedule]

As far as Thursday’s Push for the Playoffs goes, it’s mostly about teams hoping to thrive.

After the Capitals won their blood feud with the Rangers on Wednesday, other top East Division teams fight for seeding. The Caps have the leg up, but the Penguins have a shot at number one, and the Bruins and Islanders can improve their outlook(s) by taking care of business. The Hurricanes can weigh trying to lock up the Central Division title with an all-too-underrated “-ing”: possibly resting some players.

For fans of true desperate drama, this might not be the most tantalizing day of the Push for the Playoffs. Taking care of business (as teams didn’t do last night, beyond the Jets) is the order of the day. (Or should it be taking?)

Yes, this one’s more about playoff seeding.

IF PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY (matchups by total points)

EAST DIVISION
1. Washington Capitals vs. 4. New York Islanders
2. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 3. Boston Bruins

CENTRAL DIVISION
1. Carolina Hurricanes vs. 4. Nashville Predators
2. Tampa Bay Lightning vs. 3. Florida Panthers

NORTH DIVISION
1. Toronto Maple Leafs vs. 4. Montreal Canadiens
2. Edmonton Oilers vs. 3. Winnipeg Jets

WEST DIVISION
1. Vegas Golden Knights vs. 4. St. Louis Blues
2. Colorado Avalanche vs. 3. Minnesota Wild

TODAY’S KEY GAMES
Rangers vs. Bruins, 7 p.m. ET (NBCSN livestream)
Devils vs. Islanders, 7 p.m. ET
Sabres vs. Penguins, 7 p.m. ET
Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs, 7 p.m. ET

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Capitals – Clinched
Penguins – Clinched
Islanders – Clinched
Bruins – Clinched
Rangers – eliminated
Flyers – eliminated
Devils – eliminated
Sabres – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Hurricanes – Clinched
Panthers – Clinched
Lightning – Clinched
Predators – 94.9%
Stars – 5.1%
Blackhawks – eliminated
Red Wings – eliminated
Blue Jackets – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Maple Leafs – Clinched
Oilers – Clinched
Jets – Clinched
Canadiens – 99.5%
Flames – 0.5%
Canucks – 0%
Senators – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Golden Knights – Clinched
Avalanche – Clinched
Wild – Clinched
Blues – 99.5%
Kings – 0.5%
Coyotes – eliminated
Sharks – eliminated
Ducks – eliminated

draft lottery
Getty Images

DRAFT LOTTERY PICTURE (via MoneyPuck)

Sabres – 18.4%
Ducks – 13.4%
Devils – 10.3%
Red Wings – 9.3%
Canucks – 8.6%
Blue Jackets – 7.9%
Senators – 6.2%
Sharks – 5%
Blackhawks – 4.4%
Coyotes – 4.4%
Kings – 4.3%
Flames – 2.9%
Flyers – 2%
Stars – 1.3%
Rangers – 1.3%

ART ROSS TROPHY RACE

Connor McDavid, Oilers – 93 points
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 75
Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche – 65
Mitch Marner, Maple Leafs – 64
Patrick Kane, Blackhawks – 64

ROCKET RICHARD RACE

Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 39 goals
Connor McDavid, Oilers – 31
Mikko Rantanen, Avalanche – 29
Alex DeBrincat, Blackhawks – 28
Tyler Toffoli, Canadiens – 28

More NHL News

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James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Push for the Playoffs: Seeding a bigger focus for Hurricanes, top East teams originally appeared on NBCSports.com