NHL playoff picture: Lots at stake on final night of regular season

·3 min read

The 2021-22 NHL season has been one of the promising campaigns in recent memory and now 16 teams remain in their quest to lift the Stanley Cup.

The only problem: although we know all 16 playoff teams, we don’t know all the first-round matchups with the season reaching its end. It’s shaping up to be a wild Friday slate, so we’ve included all the playoff-clinching scenarios that will affect seeding.

The NHL playoff picture will come down to the final night of the regular season. (Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The NHL playoff picture will come down to the final night of the regular season. (Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Eastern Conference

Tampa Bay Lightning

Let’s start with the back-to-back Stanley Cup champs. Florida secured the Presidents’ Trophy with a victory over Ottawa on Tuesday, while Toronto is locked into the Atlantic Division’s No. 2 seed. For what it’s worth, the Maple Leafs are resting Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Jack Campbell and John Tavares on Friday against Boston.

Tampa Bay will secure the Atlantic’s No. 3 seed and a matchup against Toronto, while Boston will play the Carolina Hurricanes if the following happens:

  • If Tampa Bay defeats the New York Islanders in regulation or in overtime OR

  • If Tampa Bay gains one point against New York AND Toronto defeats Boston in regulation or in overtime OR

  • If Toronto defeats Boston in regulation.

Boston Bruins

Boston, currently in fourth place in the Atlantic, sits just one point behind Tampa Bay. If the following happens, Boston will play Toronto in the first round, while Tampa Bay will face Carolina:

  • If Boston defeats Toronto in regulation or overtime AND New York defeats Tampa Bay in regulation or overtime OR

  • If Boston gains one point against Toronto AND New York defeats Tampa Bay in regulation.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Carolina and the New York Rangers have locked up the Metropolitan’s first two seeds, respectively, so Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins still have everything to play for Friday.

Pittsburgh will square off against New York, while Washington will play Florida if the following happens:

  • If Pittsburgh gains at least one point against Columbus OR

  • If the New York Rangers defeat Washington in regulation or overtime.

Washington Capitals

Led by another stellar campaign from Alexander Ovechkin, the Capitals trail the Penguins by just one point entering Friday’s action.

Washington will play the New York Rangers, while Pittsburgh will play Florida if the following happens:

  • If Washington defeats New York in regulation or overtime AND Columbus defeats Pittsburgh in regulation.

Western Conference

Minnesota Wild

Minnesota has caught fire as of late with a 8-1-1 record in its past 10 games, but the Colorado Avalanche locked up the Central Division’s No. 1 seed.

Minnesota will secure home-ice advantage against St. Louis if the following happens:

  • If Minnesota gains at least one point against Colorado OR

  • If Vegas defeats St. Louis in regulation or overtime.

St. Louis Blues

The 2019 champs may be repeating the same formula from three years ago with the playoffs on the horizon and like Minnesota, sport an 8-1-1 record in their past 10 games.

St. Louis will secure home-ice advantage against Minnesota if the following happens:

  • If St. Louis defeats Vegas in regulation or overtime AND Colorado defeats Minnesota in regulation.

Nashville Predators

Roman Josi is having the best season of his career to lead the Predators into the playoffs. Nashville is one of three playoff teams that will make it to the postseason with fewer than 100 points.

Nashville will play Calgary and Dallas will face Colorado if the following happens:

  • If Nashville gains at least one point against Arizona OR

  • If Anaheim defeats Dallas in regulation or overtime.

Dallas Stars

The 2020 finalists, barring an offensive explosion on Friday, are going to enter the playoffs with a negative goal differential. Joe Pavelski and Jason Robertson will be looking to swing that balance in the Stars’ favor this postseason.

Dallas will play Calgary and Nashville will face Colorado if the following happens:

  • If Dallas defeats Anaheim in regulation or overtime AND Arizona defeats Nashville in regulation.

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