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NHL Playoff Picture: Division Leaders Offer Value Odds

Four Postseason Spots Still Unclaimed

Even though 27 of the 32 NHL teams have either three or four games remaining, none of the four divisions have crowned a champion this season. That could change in the next day or two with the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Dallas Stars and Vancouver Canucks currently sitting atop the four divisions. The NHL odds didn’t have any of those teams in the top five in the Presidents’ Trophy odds when the season began.

The New York Rangers lead the Dallas Stars by one point and are up by three points on the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes as the regular season winds to a close.

NHL Playoff Picture: Division Leaders Offer Value Odds
Pyotr Kochetkov #52 of the Hurricanes defends against Bo Horvat #14 of the Islanders | Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/AFP

Six Eastern Conference teams have clinched spots in the playoffs while Nashville became the sixth team from the Western Conference to secure a playoff spot.

When looking at the NHL futures odds, Carolina and Florida, a pair of teams in second place in their respective divisions, currently have the best odds to win the Stanley Cup followed by Colorado and Edmonton.

Let’s take a look at the playoff picture with the Stanley Cup Playoffs right around the corner.

Trophy Hunters Look to Finish Strong

Since the 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks followed up a run to the Presidents’ Trophy by also winning the Stanley Cup, only one team that won the Presidents’ Trophy has made it past the second round in the playoffs.

That isn’t stopping teams from going after the top seed and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

Despite falling to the rival New York Islanders on Tuesday, the New York Rangers lead the NHL with 110 points, 53 wins and 50 regulation or overtime wins.

The Rangers end the regular season by playing a slumping Philadelphia Flyers team, the Islanders and the Ottawa Senators, and it is looking good for the Rangers to win the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time since the 2014-15 season.

Dallas, which ends the regular season with matchups against Winnipeg, Seattle and St. Louis, is on the verge of clinching the Central Division title.

A Look at the Division Races

There could be some divisions being clinched as soon as Thursday.

When looking at our sportsbook odds, the second-place teams with the best odds to win division titles are the Edmonton Oilers at +240 to capture the Pacific Division and the Florida Panthers at +450 to win the Atlantic Division.



Dallas could be the first team to clinch its division as the Stars lead Colorado by five points with three games left for both teams.

A win by Dallas or a regulation loss by Colorado on Thursday would give the division title to the Stars.

Vancouver also has a five-point lead in the Pacific Division. However, Edmonton has six games remaining and two games in hand, so it would be a little longer before the Pacific Division champion is crowned.

In the Eastern Conference, the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers each hold three-point leads.

Boston doesn’t play again until Saturday. If Florida loses in regulation to Columbus, the Bruins would clinch the Atlantic Division title before hitting the ice again.

The Rangers could take care of business in the Metropolitan Division race with a win over Philadelphia on Thursday.

It is Now Or Never

There are just two playoff spots remaining in each conference.

Either Los Angeles or Vegas will earn the No. 3 seed out of the Pacific Division, with only the St. Louis Blues having a chance to keep both the Kings and the Golden Knights out of the playoffs.

St. Louis probably needs to win out and get some help to land a spot in the Western Conference playoffs as the Blues trail Vegas by five points and Los Angeles by six points with five games left to play.

St. Louis and Vegas both play on Wednesday so perhaps things could be decided sooner rather than later.

In the Eastern Conference, there are more teams still with dreams of securing playoff spots.

There are still seven teams alive with two spots available. The Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils will be in contention for at least one more day but they would have to win out and have Washington suffer four straight regulation losses to have a chance.

The New York Islanders have won five games in a row to take a two-point lead on Washington for third place in the Metropolitan Division. The Las Vegas odds have the Islanders priced at -800 to earn a playoff spot.

Washington would be the No. 2 wild card in the East if the playoffs began today but the Capitals only lead Detroit and Pittsburgh by one point. Each of those teams has four games left to play.

Pittsburgh (6-1-3 in its last 10 games) is three points back of the Islanders in the Metro while Philadelphia, losers of eight games in a row, is four points behind.

Get Out the Golf Clubs

Minnesota is the most recent team to be eliminated from playoff contention, joining Anaheim, Arizona, Calgary, Chicago, Columbus, Montreal, Ottawa, San Jose and Seattle.

Seattle and Minnesota both reached the playoffs a season ago while New Jersey is on the verge of being the latest 2023 playoff team to be sent packing. Forward Jack Hughes is done for the season so it is pretty clear that the Devils know that the end is near.

A Look at the Bracket

If the playoffs began today, this is how things would look.

In the Eastern Conference, it would be the Washington Capitals meeting the New York Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightning going up against the Boston Bruins, Toronto-Florida and the New York Islanders-Carolina Hurricanes would be the other first-round series.

In the West, Dallas would face Vegas while Vancouver would draw Nashville, with the other two series being Winnipeg-Colorado and Edmonton-Los Angeles. Reigning Stanley Cup champion Vegas would begin its title defense on the road. The Golden Knights are +1100 to repeat in Las Vegas odds.



Questions of the Day

Which NHL team has the best ATS record this season?

The Montreal Canadiens are 49-29 against the spread this season. Among the teams that have clinched a spot in the playoffs, the Winnipeg Jets are setting the pace at 43-35.

Who is the last team to win the Presidents’ Trophy and the Stanley Cup title in the same season?

The 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks not only had the most points in the NHL during the regular season, they also won the Stanley Cup. None of the previous 10 Presidents’ Trophy winners have reached the Stanley Cup Final.

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