April 15, 2024

NHL playoff standings: Who will win the Central Division crown?


The race for the regular-season division titles is down to two teams in the Atlantic and Metro, and perhaps already won by the Vancouver Canucks in the Pacific. But the Central is our focus today, with two teams tied in standings points at the top and another just four behind.

Who will ultimately earn the division’s No. 1 seed?

The Colorado Avalanche are in the top spot with 97 points through 71 games, and 38 regulation wins. In second are the Dallas Stars, with 97 points through 72 games and 33 regulation wins. The Winnipeg Jets are in third with 93 points in 71 games and 39 regulation wins. Off in the distance is our long shot in the field, the Nashville Predators, who sit at 88 points in 71 games, with 35 regulation wins.

Colorado’s schedule down the stretch is a tough one. After Tuesday night’s game against the lottery-bound Montreal Canadiens (9 p.m. ET, NHL Power Play on ESPN+), seven of its remaining 10 contests are against teams currently in playoff position, and two of the other three are against the Minnesota Wild, who are on the outskirts of the wild-card race but are still playing hard. The Avs are projected for 111.2 points and have a 58.8% chance of taking the division, per Stathletes.

The Stars also get a draft lottery team for their opponent on Tuesday night, as they’ll skate against the San Jose Sharks (10:30 p.m. ET, NHL Power Play on ESPN+). Dallas is projected to reach 110.4 standings points and has been given a 35.3% chance of winning the Central. Of their remaining nine games beyond Tuesday, just four are against current playoff teams.

Although the Jets are behind the other two clubs in standings points, their regulation wins total could come in handy if they can gain ground. After a rough swing out east, they are back home Tuesday to host the Edmonton Oilers (8 p.m. ET, NHL Power Play on ESPN+). After that game, six of their final 10 games are against teams currently in a postseason spot, including one apiece against Dallas and Colorado on Apr. 11 and 13. Stathletes projects the Jets for 106.1 points and gives them a 5.8% chance of winning the division title.

And now, the hottest team in the NHL. The Predators haven’t lost a game in regulation since Feb. 15, a span of 17 straight contests with a point. That’s a trend that can surely aid a team in its quest for a strong postseason slot, and Nashville will be going for 18 straight games with at least one point on Tuesday night against the Vegas Golden Knights (8 p.m. ET, NHL Power Play on ESPN+). The Preds have been beating all manner of teams during the streak, but their remaining schedule happens to be a bit lighter than those of the teams ahead of them; just three of their final 10 contests are against current playoff teams. Nevertheless, it would be quite an unlikely outcome for Nashville to win the Central title: Stathletes projects the Preds finishing with 101.9 points and a 0.1% chance of finishing first in the division.

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
Clinching scenarios
Tuesday’s schedule
Monday’s scores
Expanded standings
Race for No. 1 pick

Current playoff matchups

Eastern Conference

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

Western Conference

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


Clinching scenarios

1. The New York Rangers will clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Philadelphia Flyers in any fashion. They also clinch if they get one point against the Flyers and the Detroit Red Wings lose to the Washington Capitals in any fashion or if the Red Wings lose to the Capitals in regulation (regardless of the Rangers’ result).

2. The Florida Panthers will clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Boston Bruins in any fashion, and any of the following occurs:

  • The Red Wings lose to the Capitals in any fashion

  • The Flyers lose to the Rangers in regulation

  • The Flyers lose to the Rangers in overtime or shootout AND the Capitals lose to the Red Wings in regulation

Florida can also clinch if it gets one point against Boston and Detroit loses to Washington in regulation.

3. The Carolina Hurricanes will clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins in any fashion, and any of the following occurs:

  • The Red Wings lose to the Capitals in any fashion

  • The Flyers lose to the Rangers in regulation

  • The Flyers lose to the Rangers in overtime or shootout AND the Capitals lose to the Red Wings in regulation

Carolina can also clinch if it gets one point against Pittsburgh and Detroit loses to Washington in regulation.

4. The Bruins will clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Panthers in any fashion AND the Red Wings lose to the Capitals in regulation.


Tuesday’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).

Boston Bruins at Florida Panthers, 7 p.m.
Philadelphia Flyers at New York Rangers, 7 p.m.
Carolina Hurricanes at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 p.m.
Detroit Red Wings at Washington Capitals, 7 p.m.
New Jersey Devils at Toronto Maple Leafs, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN+/Hulu)
Vegas Golden Knights at Nashville Predators, 8 p.m.
Edmonton Oilers at Winnipeg Jets, 8 p.m.
Calgary Flames at Chicago Blackhawks 8:30 p.m.
Montreal Canadiens at Colorado Avalanche, 9 p.m.
Columbus Blue Jackets at Arizona Coyotes, 10 p.m.
Anaheim Ducks at Seattle Kraken, 10 p.m.
Dallas Stars at San Jose Sharks, 10:30 p.m.


Monday’s scoreboard

Vegas Golden Knights 2, St. Louis Blues 1 (OT)
Los Angeles Kings 3, Vancouver Canucks 2


Expanded standings

Atlantic Division

Points: 97
Regulation wins: 38
Playoff position: A1
Games left: 11
Points pace: 112
Next game: vs. BOS (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 97
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: A2
Games left: 10
Points pace: 111
Next game: @ FLA (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 89
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: A3
Games left: 12
Points pace: 104
Next game: vs. NJ (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 85
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 11
Points pace: 98
Next game: vs. BOS (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 98.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 78
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 11
Points pace: 90
Next game: @ WSH (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 25.0%
Tragic number: 21

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 10
Points pace: 83
Next game: vs. OTT (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 1.9%
Tragic number: 14

Points: 64
Regulation wins: 21
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 12
Points pace: 75
Next game: @ BUF (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: ~0%
Tragic number: 9

Points: 64
Regulation wins: 16
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 12
Points pace: 75
Next game: @ COL (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: ~0%
Tragic number: 9


Metropolitan Division

Points: 98
Regulation wins: 38
Playoff position: M1
Games left: 11
Points pace: 113
Next game: vs. PHI (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 97
Regulation wins: 37
Playoff position: M2
Games left: 10
Points pace: 111
Next game: @ PIT (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: M3
Games left: 10
Points pace: 92
Next game: @ NYR (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 85.1%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 12
Points pace: 93
Next game: vs. DET (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 66.7%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 75
Regulation wins: 22
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 11
Points pace: 87
Next game: @ FLA (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 13.3%
Tragic number: 18

Points: 74
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 10
Points pace: 84
Next game: @ TOR (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 8.7%
Tragic number: 15

Points: 70
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 12
Points pace: 82
Next game: vs. CAR (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0.5%
Tragic number: 15

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 18
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 11
Points pace: 67
Next game: @ ARI (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: ~0%
Tragic number: E


Central Division

Points: 97
Regulation wins: 38
Playoff position: C1
Games left: 11
Points pace: 112
Next game: vs. MTL (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 97
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: C2
Games left: 10
Points pace: 111
Next game: @ SJ (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 93
Regulation wins: 39
Playoff position: C3
Games left: 11
Points pace: 107
Next game: vs. EDM (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 88
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 11
Points pace: 102
Next game: vs. VGK (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 99.6%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 80
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 10
Points pace: 91
Next game: vs. CGY (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 4.3%
Tragic number: 15

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 11
Points pace: 89
Next game: vs. SJ (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 1.7%
Tragic number: 14

Points: 63
Regulation wins: 23
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 11
Points pace: 73
Next game: vs. CBJ (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: ~0%
Tragic number: 1

Points: 45
Regulation wins: 14
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 11
Points pace: 52
Next game: vs. CGY (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Pacific Division

Points: 98
Regulation wins: 39
Playoff position: P1
Games left: 10
Points pace: 112
Next game: vs. DAL (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 88
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: P2
Games left: 13
Points pace: 105
Next game: @ WPG (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: P3
Games left: 11
Points pace: 101
Next game: @ EDM (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 99.5%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 85
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 11
Points pace: 98
Next game: @ NSH (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 95.0%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 71
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 12
Points pace: 83
Next game: @ CHI (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0.1%
Tragic number: 10

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 22
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 12
Points pace: 81
Next game: vs. ANA (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: ~0%
Tragic number: 8

Points: 52
Regulation wins: 18
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 11
Points pace: 60
Next game: @ SEA (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 40
Regulation wins: 12
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 12
Points pace: 47
Next game: vs. DAL (Tuesday)
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: 40
Regulation wins: 12

Points: 45
Regulation wins: 14

Points: 52
Regulation wins: 18

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 18

Points: 63
Regulation wins: 23

Points: 64
Regulation wins: 16

Points: 64
Regulation wins: 21

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 22

Points: 70
Regulation wins: 25

Points: 71
Regulation wins: 28

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 28

Points: 74
Regulation wins: 30

Points: 75
Regulation wins: 22

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 27

Points: 78
Regulation wins: 25

Points: 80
Regulation wins: 28

* 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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