NHL playoff watch: Can the Flames make the playoff cut?

NHL

A legendary Canadian anthem from the 1980s said “you can’t touch a flame when it’s red hot,” and while we wouldn’t classify 5-3-2 in their past 10 games as being “red hot,” the Calgary Flames are getting dangerously close to the Winnipeg Jets in the Western Conference wild-card playoff race.

In fact, if the Flames beat the Vancouver Canucks tonight (10 ET, NHL Power Play on ESPN+), coupled with a Jets loss to the Detroit Red Wings (8 ET, NHL Power Play on ESPN+), the two clubs will be tied in standings points with six games remaining apiece.

No matter what happens tonight, the Jets will hold an edge in regulation wins; heading into the games, their margin is 31-28. But can the Flames overtake them cleanly before the end of the campaign?

After the matchup against the Canucks, the rest of the Flames’ schedule, save for one game, is against lottery teams. That atypical game is Wednesday against, you guessed it, the Jets. Meanwhile, the Jets face the New Jersey Devils on Sunday, followed by the Calgary game, a pair of matchups against lottery teams, then a devastating closing duo of games: on the road against the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche.

Heading into tonight, the projection model at FiveThirtyEight still likes the Jets’ chances, giving Winnipeg a 60% chance of making the playoffs, compared with Calgary’s 28%. How much does that change based on tonight’s results?

As we enter the final stretch of the regular season, it’s time to check all the playoff races — along with the teams jockeying for position in the 2023 NHL draft lottery.

Note: Playoff chances are via FiveThirtyEight.

Jump ahead:
Current playoff matchups
Today’s games
Last night’s scores
Expanded standings
Race for No. 1 pick

Current playoff matchups

Eastern Conference

A1 Boston Bruins vs. WC2 Pittsburgh Penguins
A2 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. A3 Tampa Bay Lightning
M1 Carolina Hurricanes vs. WC1 New York Islanders
M2 New Jersey Devils vs. M3 New York Rangers

Western Conference

C1 Minnesota Wild vs. WC1 Seattle Kraken
C2 Dallas Stars vs. C3 Colorado Avalanche
P1 Vegas Golden Knights vs. WC2 Winnipeg Jets
P2 Edmonton Oilers vs. P3 Los Angeles Kings


Friday’s games

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

New York Rangers at Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m. (NHLN)
Detroit Red Wings at Winnipeg Jets, 8 p.m.
Calgary Flames at Vancouver Canucks, 10 p.m.
Dallas Stars at Arizona Coyotes, 10:30 p.m.


Thursday’s scoreboard

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

Boston Bruins 2, Columbus Blue Jackets 1 (OT)
Florida Panthers 5, Montreal Canadiens 2
New Jersey Devils 2, New York Rangers 1
Ottawa Senators 5, Philadelphia Flyers 4 (OT)
Pittsburgh Penguins 2, Nashville Predators 0
Tampa Bay Lightning 5, Washington Capitals 1
Detroit Red Wings 3, Carolina Hurricanes 2
St. Louis Blues 5, Chicago Blackhawks 3
Edmonton Oilers 2, Los Angeles Kings 0
Seattle Kraken 4, Anaheim Ducks 1
San Jose Sharks 4, Vegas Golden Knights 3 (OT)


Expanded standings

Atlantic Division

Points: 121
Regulation wins: 49
Playoff position: A1
Games left: 7
Points pace: 133
Next game: @ PIT (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 98
Regulation wins: 37
Playoff position: A2
Games left: 8
Points pace: 109
Next game: @ OTT (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 94
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: A3
Games left: 6
Points pace: 101
Next game: vs. NYI (Saturday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 83
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 6
Points pace: 90
Next game: @ CBJ (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 38%
Tragic number: 12

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 86
Next game: vs. TOR (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 2%
Tragic number: 10

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 9
Points pace: 87
Next game: vs. NYR (Friday)
Playoff chances: 3%
Tragic number: 12

Points: 75
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Points pace: 83
Next game: @ WPG (Friday)
Playoff chances: 1%
Tragic number: 8

Points: 66
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 6
Points pace: 71
Next game: vs. CAR (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Metropolitan Division

Points: 103
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: M1
Games left: 8
Points pace: 114
Next game: @ MTL (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 102
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: M2
Games left: 7
Points pace: 112
Next game: @ CHI (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 98
Regulation wins: 34
Playoff position: M3
Games left: 7
Points pace: 107
Next game: @ BUF (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 6
Points pace: 94
Next game: @ TB (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 90%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 84
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 7
Points pace: 92
Next game: vs. BOS (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 66%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 6
Points pace: 84
Next game: vs. NYR (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 1%
Tragic number: 6

Points: 71
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Points pace: 79
Next game: vs. BUF (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 1%
Tragic number: 4

Points: 54
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Points pace: 60
Next game: vs. FLA (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Central Division

Points: 97
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: C1
Games left: 7
Points pace: 106
Next game: @ VGK (Saturday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 94
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: C2
Games left: 8
Points pace: 104
Next game: @ ARI (Friday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 94
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: C3
Games left: 8
Points pace: 104
Next game: vs. DAL (Saturday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 85
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 7
Points pace: 93
Next game: vs. DET (Friday)
Playoff chances: 60%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 82
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Points pace: 91
Next game: vs. STL (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 13%
Tragic number: 14

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 83
Next game: @ NSH (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 1%
Tragic number: 6

Points: 67
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 73
Next game: vs. DAL (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 54
Regulation wins: 16
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 59
Next game: vs. NJ (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Pacific Division

Points: 99
Regulation wins: 34
Playoff position: P1
Games left: 7
Points pace: 108
Next game: vs. MIN (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 97
Regulation wins: 40
Playoff position: P2
Games left: 6
Points pace: 105
Next game: vs. ANA (Saturday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 96
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: P3
Games left: 7
Points pace: 105
Next game: @ SEA (Saturday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 90
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 8
Points pace: 100
Next game: vs. LA (Saturday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 83
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 91
Next game: @ VAN (Friday)
Playoff chances: 28%
Tragic number: 13

Points: 74
Regulation wins: 22
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Points pace: 82
Next game: vs. CGY (Friday)
Playoff chances: 1%
Tragic number: 5

Points: 57
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 62
Next game: @ ARI (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 56
Regulation wins: 13
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 61
Next game: @ EDM (Saturday)
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 Connor Bedard, who has been lauded as a generational talent.

Points: 54
Regulation wins: 15

Points: 54
Regulation wins: 16

Points: 56
Regulation wins: 13

Points: 57
Regulation wins: 15

Points: 66
Regulation wins: 20

Points: 67
Regulation wins: 20

Points: 71
Regulation wins: 26

Points: 74
Regulation wins: 22

Points: 75
Regulation wins: 25

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 26

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 26

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 27

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 29

Points: 82
Regulation wins: 27

Points: 83
Regulation wins: 28

Points: 83
Regulation wins: 32

*Notes on traded picks impacting the top 16:

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