NHL playoff watch: Wait … are the Capitals going to win the wild card?


Typically when one thinks of a playoff contender, one would imagine that this team would have a strong goal differential. Certainly not minus-30.

But, the Washington Capitals have continued to be one of the NHL’s most enigmatic clubs this season, and despite being on the wrong side of that lopsided statistic, they remain very much in the mix for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Heading into tonight’s game against the Calgary Flames (8:30 p.m. ET, NHL Network), the Caps are one point behind the Detroit Red Wings, with a two-game regulation win advantage and two games in hand. They are tied with the New York Islanders in standings points, but have a five-game regulation win advantage and a game in hand.

Beyond the matchup against Calgary, the club heads back to D.C. for a challenging gauntlet that may tell us ultimately where they are headed: they’ll host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday, the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday, then the Red Wings on Tuesday, March 26. Of their remaining 16 games, 11 are against teams currently in playoff position, and they also have two against the Buffalo Sabres, who are after the wild card as well.

So the odds seem to be stacked against them. But perhaps they’ll continue to abide by the “never tell me the odds” credo and pull this off.

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
Today’s schedule
Last night’s scores
Expanded standings
Race for No. 1 pick

greyline

Current playoff matchups

Eastern Conference

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

Western Conference

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


Monday’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).

Washington Capitals at Calgary Flames, 8:30 p.m. (NHLN)
Buffalo Sabres at Seattle Kraken, 10 p.m.


Sunday’s scoreboard

New York Rangers 5, New York Islanders 2
Vegas Golden Knights 3, New Jersey Devils 1
Carolina Hurricanes 7, Ottawa Senators 2
Pittsburgh Penguins 6, Detroit Red Wings 3
Winnipeg Jets 6, Columbus Blue Jackets 1
Chicago Blackhawks 5, San Jose Sharks 2
St. Louis Blues 4, Anaheim Ducks 2


Expanded standings

Atlantic Division

bos

Points: 95
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: A1
Games left: 13
Points pace: 113
Next game: vs. OTT (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

fla

Points: 94
Regulation wins: 37
Playoff position: A2
Games left: 14
Points pace: 113
Next game: vs. NSH (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

tor

Points: 85
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: A3
Games left: 16
Points pace: 105
Next game: @ PHI (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

tb

Points: 78
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 15
Points pace: 96
Next game: @ VGK (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 92.7%
Tragic number: N/A

det

Points: 74
Regulation wins: 24
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 14
Points pace: 89
Next game: vs. CBJ (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 12.1%
Tragic number: N/A

buf

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Points pace: 83
Next game: @ SEA (Monday)
Playoff chances: 13.2%
Tragic number: 23

mtl

Points: 61
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 15
Points pace: 75
Next game: @ EDM (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: ~0%
Tragic number: 17

ott

Points: 60
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 16
Points pace: 75
Next game: @ BOS (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: ~0%
Tragic number: 18


Metropolitan Division

nyr

Points: 94
Regulation wins: 37
Playoff position: M1
Games left: 14
Points pace: 113
Next game: vs. WPG (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

car

Points: 90
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: M2
Games left: 14
Points pace: 109
Next game: @ NYI (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

phi

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: M3
Games left: 14
Points pace: 92
Next game: vs. TOR (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 65.2%
Tragic number: N/A

wsh

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 16
Points pace: 91
Next game: @ CGY (Monday)
Playoff chances: 37.8%
Tragic number: 31

nyi

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 21
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 15
Points pace: 89
Next game: vs. CAR (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 61.1%
Tragic number: 29

pit

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 15
Points pace: 85
Next game: @ NJ (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 4%
Tragic number: 25

nj

Points: 68
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Points pace: 82
Next game: vs. PIT (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 14%
Tragic number: 22

cbj

Points: 57
Regulation wins: 18
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Points pace: 69
Next game: @ DET (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: ~0%
Tragic number: 11


Central Division

wpg

Points: 91
Regulation wins: 38
Playoff position: C1
Games left: 15
Points pace: 111
Next game: @ NYR (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

col

Points: 91
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: C2
Games left: 14
Points pace: 110
Next game: @ STL (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

dal

Points: 91
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: C3
Games left: 13
Points pace: 108
Next game: vs. ARI (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

nsh

Points: 82
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 14
Points pace: 99
Next game: vs. SJ (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 95%
Tragic number: N/A

stl

Points: 75
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Points pace: 90
Next game: vs. COL (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 2.6%
Tragic number: 24

min

Points: 74
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Points pace: 89
Next game: @ ANA (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 25.8%
Tragic number: 23

ari

Points: 61
Regulation wins: 23
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Points pace: 74
Next game: @ DAL (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: ~0%
Tragic number: 10

chi

Points: 43
Regulation wins: 14
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Points pace: 51.8529411764706
Next game: @ LA (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Pacific Division

van

Points: 92
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: P1
Games left: 14
Points pace: 111
Next game: vs. BUF (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

edm

Points: 84
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: P2
Games left: 17
Points pace: 106
Next game: vs. MTL (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

la

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: P3
Games left: 15
Points pace: 97
Next game: vs. CHI (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 85.4%
Tragic number: N/A

vgk

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 15
Points pace: 97
Next game: vs. TB (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 84.4%
Tragic number: N/A

cgy

Points: 71
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 15
Points pace: 87
Next game: vs. WSH (Monday)
Playoff chances: 2.8%
Tragic number: 22

sea

Points: 68
Regulation wins: 22
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 16
Points pace: 85
Next game: vs. BUF (Monday)
Playoff chances: 4.1%
Tragic number: 21

ana

Points: 49
Regulation wins: 17
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Points pace: 59
Next game: vs. MIN (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

sj

Points: 39
Regulation wins: 12
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 15
Points pace: 48
Next game: @ NSH (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.

sj

Points: 39
Regulation wins: 12

chi

Points: 43
Regulation wins: 14

ana

Points: 49
Regulation wins: 17

cbj

Points: 57
Regulation wins: 18

ott

Points: 60
Regulation wins: 19

mtl

Points: 61
Regulation wins: 15

ari

Points: 61
Regulation wins: 23

sea

Points: 68
Regulation wins: 22

nj

Points: 68
Regulation wins: 27

pit

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 25

buf

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 26

cgy

Points: 71
Regulation wins: 28

nyi

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 21

wsh

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 26

min

Points: 74
Regulation wins: 26

stl

Points: 75
Regulation wins: 27

* 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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