April 15, 2024

NHL playoff standings: The implications of Penguins-Capitals


Gone are the days when the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals were battling atop the Metropolitan Division.

But believe it or not, with the Capitals clinging to the East’s second wild-card spot, the Penguins aren’t entirely out of the running to make the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Heading into Thursday’s clash between the clubs (7 p.m. ET, NHL Power Play on ESPN+), the Penguins are three points behind the Capitals in the standings, with one more regulation win. Notably, Washington has a game in hand on Pittsburgh (and the other teams vying for the wild card).

After the game against the Capitals, the Penguins will face teams currently in playoff position in four of their final six contests — and the two teams that aren’t currently in playoff position are in the aforementioned “vying for the wild card” cohort: the Detroit Red Wings and New York Islanders, both of whom are currently ahead of the Pens.

Washington’s post-Pittsburgh schedule includes dates against four current playoff teams in its final seven, as well as games against the Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres (who remain mathematically in the wild-card race as well), and the nearly eliminated Ottawa Senators.

Stathletes gives the Capitals a 52.9% chance of earning a playoff spot of any variety (whether as a wild card or the No. 3 seed in the Metro), while the Penguins are at 10.2%. It appears there is some juice left in the Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby rivalry!

As we traverse 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 2024 NHL draft lottery.

Note: Playoff chances are via Stathletes.

Jump ahead:
Current playoff matchups
Thursday’s schedule
Wednesday’s scores
Expanded standings
Race for No. 1 pick

Current playoff matchups

Eastern Conference

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

Western Conference

C1 Dallas Stars vs. WC2 Los Angeles Kings
C2 Colorado Avalanche vs. C3 Winnipeg Jets
P1 Vancouver Canucks vs. WC1 Nashville Predators
P2 Edmonton Oilers vs. P3 Vegas Golden Knights


Thursday’s games

Note: All times ET. All games not on TNT or NHL Network are available via NHL Power Play, which is included in an ESPN+ subscription (local blackout restrictions apply).

Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens, 7 p.m.
Florida Panthers at Ottawa Senators, 7 p.m.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals, 7 p.m.
Boston Bruins at Carolina Hurricanes, 7 p.m.
New York Islanders at Columbus Blue Jackets, 7 p.m.
St. Louis Blues at Nashville Predators, 8 p.m. (ESPN+/Hulu)
Colorado Avalanche at Minnesota Wild, 8 p.m.
Calgary Flames at Winnipeg Jets, 8 p.m.
Los Angeles Kings at San Jose Sharks, 10:30 p.m.


Wednesday’s scoreboard

Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 1
New York Rangers 4, New Jersey Devils 3
Dallas Stars 5, Edmonton Oilers 0
Los Angeles Kings 5, Seattle Kraken 2
Vancouver Canucks 2, Arizona Coyotes 1


Expanded standings

Atlantic Division

Points: 103
Regulation wins: 34
Playoff position: A1
Games left: 6
Points pace: 111
Next game: @ CAR (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 99
Regulation wins: 38
Playoff position: A2
Games left: 6
Points pace: 107
Next game: @ OTT (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 95
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: A3
Games left: 7
Points pace: 104
Next game: @ MTL (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 91
Regulation wins: 34
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 7
Points pace: 100
Next game: @ MTL (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 82
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 90
Next game: vs. NYR (Friday)
Playoff chances: 45.9%
Tragic number: 14

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 6
Points pace: 83
Next game: vs. PHI (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0.7%
Tragic number: 7

Points: 70
Regulation wins: 24
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Points pace: 78
Next game: vs. FLA (Thursday)
Playoff chances: ~0%
Tragic number: 4

Points: 70
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Points pace: 78
Next game: vs. TB (Thursday)
Playoff chances: ~0%
Tragic number: 4


Metropolitan Division

Points: 106
Regulation wins: 40
Playoff position: M1
Games left: 6
Points pace: 114
Next game: @ DET (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 101
Regulation wins: 39
Playoff position: M2
Games left: 7
Points pace: 110
Next game: vs. BOS (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 83
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: M3
Games left: 6
Points pace: 90
Next game: @ BUF (Friday)
Playoff chances: 54.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 82
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 8
Points pace: 91
Next game: vs. PIT (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 52.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 24
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 89
Next game: @ CBJ (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 34%
Tragic number: 13

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 86
Next game: @ WSH (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 10.2%
Tragic number: 11

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 6
Points pace: 82
Next game: @ OTT (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 1.5%
Tragic number: 6

Points: 62
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 68
Next game: vs. NYI (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Central Division

Points: 105
Regulation wins: 37
Playoff position: C1
Games left: 6
Points pace: 113
Next game: @ CHI (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 100
Regulation wins: 39
Playoff position: C2
Games left: 7
Points pace: 109
Next game: @ MIN (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 96
Regulation wins: 40
Playoff position: C3
Games left: 7
Points pace: 105
Next game: vs. CGY (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 90
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 7
Points pace: 98
Next game: vs. STL (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 98.4%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 84
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 92
Next game: @ NSH (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 5.8%
Tragic number: 9

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Points pace: 90
Next game: vs. COL (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 3.8%
Tragic number: 8

Points: 67
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 73
Next game: vs. VGK (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 49
Regulation wins: 16
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 54
Next game: vs. DAL (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Pacific Division

Points: 102
Regulation wins: 41
Playoff position: P1
Games left: 6
Points pace: 110
Next game: @ LA (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 95
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: P2
Games left: 8
Points pace: 105
Next game: vs. COL (Friday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 92
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: P3
Games left: 7
Points pace: 101
Next game: @ ARI (Friday)
Playoff chances: 99.6%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 89
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 7
Points pace: 97
Next game: @ SJ (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 92.4%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 75
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 82
Next game: @ ANA (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Points pace: 81
Next game: @ WPG (Thursday)
Playoff chances: ~0%
Tragic number: 1

Points: 54
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 6
Points pace: 58
Next game: vs. SEA (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 42
Regulation wins: 13
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Points pace: 47
Next game: vs. LA (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

p — clinched Presidents’ Trophy
y — clinched division
x — clinched playoff berth
e — eliminated from playoff contention


Race for the No. 1 pick

The NHL uses a draft lottery to determine the order of the first round, so the team that finishes in last place is not guaranteed the No. 1 selection. As of 2021, a team can 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. Sitting No. 1 on the draft board for this summer is Macklin Celebrini, a freshman at Boston University.

Points: 42
Regulation wins: 13

Points: 49
Regulation wins: 16

Points: 54
Regulation wins: 19

Points: 62
Regulation wins: 19

Points: 67
Regulation wins: 25

Points: 70
Regulation wins: 19

Points: 70
Regulation wins: 24

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 29

Points: 75
Regulation wins: 25

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 31

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 30

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 29

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 24

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 29

Points: 82
Regulation wins: 26

Points: 84
Regulation wins: 29

* The Penguins’ first-round pick was traded to the Sharks as part of the Erik Karlsson trade. However, it is top-10 protected.



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