NHL Playoff Watch Daily: Predators, Stars continue battle for Central’s final spot

    Tim Kavanagh is a senior NHL editor for ESPN. He’s a native of upstate New York.

Sunday’s NHL slate consisted of just one game, with the Tampa Bay Lightning defeating the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 to move into the No. 2 seed in the Central Division.

With a little over a week to go for most teams, much of the excitement will come down to seeding among the playoff contenders in each division, with one notable exception: the race between the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars for the fourth spot in the Central.

Heading into Monday’s games, the Preds have a three-point edge in the standings, and won the season series 5-3. However, Dallas does have an extra game in hand. Both teams are in action on Monday night, with the Preds visiting the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Stars heading to Sunrise, Florida, to take on the Panthers.

Having reached 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 2021 NHL draft lottery.

Note: Playoff chances are via Money Puck. Tragic numbers are courtesy of Damian Echevarrieta of the NHL.

East Division

Pittsburgh Penguins – x

Points: 71
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: E1
Games left: 4
Next game: @ PHI (May 3)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Washington Capitals – x

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: E2
Games left: 5
Next game: @ NYR (May 3)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

New York Islanders – x

Points: 67
Regulation wins: 23
Playoff position: E3
Games left: 5
Next game: @ BUF (May 3)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Boston Bruins

Points: 66
Regulation wins: 23
Playoff position: E4
Games left: 6
Next game: @ NJ (May 3)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

New York Rangers

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 23
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 4
Next game: vs. WSH (May 3)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: 1

Philadelphia Flyers

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 14
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 5
Next game: vs. PIT (May 3)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

New Jersey Devils

Points: 41
Regulation wins: 14
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 5
Next game: vs. BOS (May 3)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Buffalo Sabres

Points: 33
Regulation wins: 10
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 4
Next game: vs. NYI (May 3)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Central Division

Carolina Hurricanes – x

Points: 75
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: C1
Games left: 5
Next game: vs. CHI (May 3)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Tampa Bay Lightning – x

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: C2
Games left: 4
Next game: vs. DAL (May 5)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Florida Panthers – x

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 24
Playoff position: C3
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. DAL (May 3)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Nashville Predators

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: C4
Games left: 4
Next game: @ CBJ (May 3)
Playoff chances: 82.1%
Tragic number: N/A

Dallas Stars

Points: 55
Regulation wins: 16
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 5
Next game: @ FLA (May 3)
Playoff chances: 17.8%
Tragic number: 7

Chicago Blackhawks

Points: 50
Regulation wins: 14
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 5
Next game: @ CAR (May 3)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: 2

Detroit Red Wings

Points: 45
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Next game: @ CBJ (May 7)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Columbus Blue Jackets

Points: 43
Regulation wins: 11
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 4
Next game: vs. NSH (May 3)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

North Division

Toronto Maple Leafs – x

Points: 71
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: N1
Games left: 5
Next game: @ MTL (May 3)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Edmonton Oilers

Points: 62
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: N2
Games left: 7
Next game: @ VAN (May 3)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Winnipeg Jets

Points: 57
Regulation wins: 21
Playoff position: N3
Games left: 6
Next game: @ OTT (May 3)
Playoff chances: 99.6%
Tragic number: N/A

Montreal Canadiens

Points: 55
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N4
Games left: 6
Next game: vs. TOR (May 3)
Playoff chances: 95.4%
Tragic number: N/A

Calgary Flames

Points: 47
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 6
Next game: vs. WPG (May 5)
Playoff chances: 4.9%
Tragic number: 4

Ottawa Senators

Points: 43
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 5
Next game: vs. EDM (May 3)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Vancouver Canucks

Points: 41
Regulation wins: 13
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 11
Next game: vs. WPG (May 3)
Playoff chances: 0.2%
Tragic number: 8

West Division

Vegas Golden Knights – x

Points: 74
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: W1
Games left: 6
Next game: @ MIN (May 3)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Colorado Avalanche – x

Points: 70
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: W2
Games left: 7
Next game: @ SJ (May 3)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Minnesota Wild – x

Points: 68
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: W3
Games left: 6
Next game: vs. VGS (May 3)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

St. Louis Blues

Points: 53
Regulation wins: 16
Playoff position: W4
Games left: 7
Next game: vs. ANA (May 3)
Playoff chances: 94.6%
Tragic number: N/A

Arizona Coyotes

Points: 50
Regulation wins: 18
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 4
Next game: vs. LA (May 3)
Playoff chances: 4.9%
Tragic number: 5

San Jose Sharks

Points: 45
Regulation wins: 14
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 5
Next game: vs. COL (May 3)
Playoff chances: 0.1%
Tragic number: 2

Los Angeles Kings

Points: 44
Regulation wins: 17
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Next game: @ ARI (May 3)
Playoff chances: 0.4%
Tragic number: 5

Anaheim Ducks

Points: 39
Regulation wins: 11
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 4
Next game: @ STL (May 3)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Current playoff matchups

East Division

No. 1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 4 Boston Bruins
No. 2 Washington Capitals vs. No. 3 New York Islanders

Central Division

No. 1 Carolina Hurricanes vs. No. 4 Nashville Predators
No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. No. 3 Florida Panthers

North Division

No. 1 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. No. 4 Montreal Canadiens
No. 2 Edmonton Oilers vs. No. 3 Winnipeg Jets

West Division

No. 1 Vegas Golden Knights vs. No. 4 St. Louis Blues
No. 2 Colorado Avalanche vs. No. 3 Minnesota Wild

Race for the No. 1 pick

The NHL uses a draft lottery to determine the order at the top of the first round, so the team that finishes in last place is not guaranteed the No. 1 selection. New for 2021, a team may 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.

1. Buffalo Sabres

Points: 33
Regulation wins: 10

2. Anaheim Ducks

Points: 39
Regulation wins: 11

3. Vancouver Canucks

Points: 41
Regulation wins: 13

4. New Jersey Devils

Points: 41
Regulation wins: 14

5. Columbus Blue Jackets

Points: 43
Regulation wins: 11

6. Ottawa Senators

Points: 43
Regulation wins: 15

7. Los Angeles Kings

Points: 44
Regulation wins: 17

8. San Jose Sharks

Points: 45
Regulation wins: 14

9. Detroit Red Wings

Points: 45
Regulation wins: 15

10. Calgary Flames

Points: 47
Regulation wins: 19

11. Chicago Blackhawks

Points: 50
Regulation wins: 14

12. Arizona Coyotes

Points: 50
Regulation wins: 18

13. Philadelphia Flyers

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 14

14. Dallas Stars

Points: 55
Regulation wins: 16

15. New York Rangers

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 23

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