NHL playoff watch: Battle of Florida highlights Sunday’s schedule

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

Some rivalries in the NHL have existed for decades; think Boston Bruins-Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks-Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers-New York Islanders, etc. But some of the most heated grudge matches have materialized more recently, such as the one between the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

The two Florida teams would seem like natural rivals, but the clubs didn’t hit peaks in their competitive cycles simultaneously until the past few seasons. And now, their games are simply must-watch for all hockey fans, period. That included the first-round series from the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs, and it includes tonight’s game (7 ET, ESPN+ and Hulu).

Both clubs are playoff-bound, and this could be a preview of a second-round matchup, should the Panthers defeat the East’s second wild card (currently the Washington Capitals), and the Lightning take care of the Toronto Maple Leafs. But we’re pretty sure no one will be thinking that far ahead with their rivals on the other side of the ice tonight.

As we enter the final stretch of the 2021-22 regular season, it’s time to check in on all the playoff races — along with the teams jockeying for position in the 2022 NHL draft lottery.

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

Current playoff matchups

Eastern Conference

A1 Florida Panthers vs. WC2 Washington Capitals
A2 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. A3 Tampa Bay Lightning
M1 Carolina Hurricanes vs. WC1 Boston Bruins
M2 New York Rangers vs. M3 Pittsburgh Penguins

Western Conference

C1 Colorado Avalanche vs. WC2 Dallas Stars
C2 Minnesota Wild vs. C3 St. Louis Blues
P1 Calgary Flames vs. WC1 Nashville Predators
P2 Edmonton Oilers vs. P3 Los Angeles Kings

Today’s games

Note: All times Eastern. All out-of-market, non-TNT games available to stream on ESPN+.

Detroit Red Wings at New Jersey Devils, 1 p.m.
Carolina Hurricanes at New York Islanders, 1 p.m.
Edmonton Oilers at Columbus Blue Jackets, 1 p.m.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers, 4 p.m. (TNT)
Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers, 7 p.m. (ESPN+, Hulu)
Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals, 7 p.m. (ESPN+, Hulu)
Colorado Avalanche at Winnipeg Jets, 7 p.m.
Boston Bruins at Montreal Canadiens, 7 p.m.
Minnesota Wild at Nashville Predators, 8 p.m.
St. Louis Blues at Anaheim Ducks, 8:30 p.m.
San Jose Sharks at Vegas Golden Knights, 10 p.m.

Last night’s scoreboard

Watch In the Crease on ESPN+ for highlights from every game.

Buffalo Sabres 5, New York Islanders 3
Pittsburgh Penguins 7, Detroit Red Wings 2
Carolina Hurricanes 3, New Jersey Devils 2 (OT)
Boston Bruins 3, New York Rangers 1
Ottawa Senators 6, Montreal Canadiens 4
Tampa Bay Lightning 6, Nashville Predators 2
Florida Panthers 3, Toronto Maple Leafs 2 (OT)
Dallas Stars 3, Seattle Kraken 2
San Jose Sharks 4, Chicago Blackhawks 1
Calgary Flames 6, Vancouver Canucks 3
St. Louis Blues 5, Arizona Coyotes 4 (OT)
Los Angeles Kings 4, Anaheim Ducks 2

Expanded standings

Note: x = clinched playoff spot; y = clinched division title; z = clinched best conference record; e = eliminated

Atlantic Division

z – Florida Panthers

Points: 120
Regulation wins: 41
Playoff position: A1
Games left: 4
Next game: vs. TB (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x – Toronto Maple Leafs

Points: 109
Regulation wins: 43
Playoff position: A2
Games left: 3
Next game: @ WSH (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x – Tampa Bay Lightning

Points: 104
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: A3
Games left: 4
Next game: @ FLA (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x – Boston Bruins

Points: 101
Regulation wins: 37
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 4
Next game: @ MTL (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

e – Buffalo Sabres

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 2
Next game: @ BOS (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e – Detroit Red Wings

Points: 70
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Next game: @ NJ (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e – Ottawa Senators

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. NJ (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

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e – Montreal Canadiens

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

Metropolitan Division

x – Carolina Hurricanes

Points: 110
Regulation wins: 44
Playoff position: M1
Games left: 3
Next game: @ NYI (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x – New York Rangers

Points: 108
Regulation wins: 43
Playoff position: M2
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. CAR (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x – Pittsburgh Penguins

Points: 101
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: M3
Games left: 3
Next game: @ PHI (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x – Washington Capitals

Points: 99
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 4
Next game: vs. TOR (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

e – New York Islanders

Points: 80
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 4
Next game: vs. CAR (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e – Columbus Blue Jackets

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 24
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 4
Next game: vs. EDM (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e – New Jersey Devils

Points: 62
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 4
Next game: vs. DET (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e – Philadelphia Flyers

Points: 59
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 4
Next game: vs. PIT (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Central Division

z – Colorado Avalanche

Points: 116
Regulation wins: 45
Playoff position: C1
Games left: 4
Next game: @ WPG (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x – Minnesota Wild

Points: 107
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: C2
Games left: 4
Next game: @ NSH (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x – St. Louis Blues

Points: 107
Regulation wins: 42
Playoff position: C3
Games left: 3
Next game: @ ANA (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Nashville Predators

Points: 93
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 4
Next game: vs. MIN (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 95%
Tragic number: N/A

Dallas Stars

Points: 93
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. VGK (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 85%
Tragic number: N/A

e – Winnipeg Jets

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 4
Next game: vs. COL (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e – Chicago Blackhawks

Points: 63
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. PHI (Monday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e – Arizona Coyotes

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 16
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Next game: @ MIN (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Pacific Division

y – Calgary Flames

Points: 108
Regulation wins: 44
Playoff position: P1
Games left: 3
Next game: @ NSH (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x – Edmonton Oilers

Points: 98
Regulation wins: 37
Playoff position: P2
Games left: 4
Next game: @ CBJ (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Los Angeles Kings

Points: 96
Regulation wins: 34
Playoff position: P3
Games left: 2
Next game: @ SEA (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 99%
Tragic number: N/A

Vegas Golden Knights

Points: 89
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 4
Next game: vs. SJ (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 21%
Tragic number: 5

Vancouver Canucks

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. SEA (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: <1%
Tragic number: 1

e – San Jose Sharks

Points: 74
Regulation wins: 22
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 4
Next game: @ VGK (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e – Anaheim Ducks

Points: 74
Regulation wins: 21
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Next game: vs. STL (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e – Seattle Kraken

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 22
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 4
Next game: @ VAN (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

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. As of 2021, a team might 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. The 2022 draft lottery will be held on May 10.

1. Montreal Canadiens

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 14

2. Arizona Coyotes

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 16

3. Seattle Kraken

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 22

4. Philadelphia Flyers

Points: 59
Regulation wins: 19

5. New Jersey Devils

Points: 62
Regulation wins: 19

6. Chicago Blackhawks

Points: 63
Regulation wins: 15

7. Ottawa Senators

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 25

8. Detroit Red Wings

Points: 70
Regulation wins: 19

9. Buffalo Sabres

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 25

10. Anaheim Ducks

Points: 74
Regulation wins: 21

11. San Jose Sharks

Points: 74
Regulation wins: 22

12. Columbus Blue Jackets

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 24

13. New York Islanders

Points: 80
Regulation wins: 32

14. Winnipeg Jets

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 28

15. Vancouver Canucks

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 31

16. Vegas Golden Knights

Points: 89
Regulation wins: 33

Notes on conditionally traded picks impacting the top 16:

  • Columbus will receive Chicago’s first-round pick if Chicago does not win either of the two draws in the 2022 draft lottery. Otherwise, the pick defers to 2023.

  • Buffalo will receive Vegas’ first-round pick if it is outside the top 10 selections. Otherwise, the pick defers to 2023.

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