NHL playoff watch: Examining the Rangers’ and Penguins’ postseason outlooks

NHL

As the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins get set for Saturday night’s game (8 ET, ABC and ESPN+), they are both in great shape to qualify for the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs. According to FiveThirtyEight, the Rangers have a greater than 99% chance of making the postseason, while the Penguins’ chances are 73%. But what happens when they get there? And could they meet again for another epic showdown like last year’s?

The Rangers are on track for a first-round matchup against their Hudson River rival New Jersey Devils. The Devils won the first tilt between the teams 5-3 on Nov. 28. Each has won a 4-3 overtime decision in the time since, and they’ll play again on March 30.

Money Puck gives the Rangers a 26.1% chance of making the second round of the playoffs (where they’d potentially meet the Penguins again), 15.8% chance of making the conference final, 2.0% chance of making the Stanley Cup Final, and 0.7% chance of winning it all.

As for the Penguins, they appear poised to take on the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round. The Pens have lost two games cleanly to the Canes and two other games in OT; however, all of those were during the “we have Andrei Svechnikov in the lineup” era of Canes 2022-23 hockey. A lineup without Svechnikov would theoretically be less powerful.

Despite Svechnikov’s absence, Money Puck doesn’t love the Pens’ chances of winning the series, but it does offer a slightly rosier picture than the Rangers’ if they do get past the Metro Division: It’s a 25.2% chance for a trip to the second round, 10.6% chance of making the conference final, 4.4% chance of making the Stanley Cup Final, and 1.9% chance of winning the Cup.

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

Western Conference

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


Saturday’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).

Colorado Avalanche at Detroit Red Wings, 1 p.m. (NHLN)
Boston Bruins at Minnesota Wild, 2 p.m.
Winnipeg Jets at Nashville Predators, 2 p.m.
Edmonton Oilers at Seattle Kraken, 4 p.m.
Carolina Hurricanes at Philadelphia Flyers, 5 p.m. (ESPN+/Hulu)
New Jersey Devils at Florida Panthers, 6 p.m.
Toronto Maple Leafs at Ottawa Senators, 7 p.m.
Montreal Canadiens at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7 p.m.
Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Rangers, 8 p.m. (ABC/ESPN+)
Dallas Stars at Calgary Flames, 10 p.m.
Vancouver Canucks at Los Angeles Kings, 10 p.m.
Chicago Blackhawks at Arizona Coyotes, 10:30 p.m.
New York Islanders at San Jose Sharks, 10:30 p.m. (NHLN)


Friday’s scoreboard

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

Philadelphia Flyers 5, Buffalo Sabres 2
Toronto Maple Leafs 5, Carolina Hurricanes 2
St. Louis Blues 5, Washington Capitals 2
Anaheim Ducks 7, Columbus Blue Jackets 4


Expanded standings

Atlantic Division

Points: 107
Regulation wins: 44
Playoff position: A1
Games left: 15
Points pace: 131
Next game: @ MIN (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 91
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: A2
Games left: 14
Points pace: 110
Next game: @ OTT (Saturday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 88
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: A3
Games left: 13
Points pace: 105
Next game: vs. MTL (Saturday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 75
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Points pace: 90
Next game: vs. NJ (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 55%
Tragic number: 25

Points: 72
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Points pace: 87
Next game: vs. BOS (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 8%
Tragic number: 22

Points: 70
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Points pace: 84
Next game: vs. TOR (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 2%
Tragic number: 20

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 24
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 15
Points pace: 85
Next game: vs. COL (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 2%
Tragic number: 21

Points: 60
Regulation wins: 18
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 13
Points pace: 71
Next game: @ TB (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 1%
Tragic number: 8


Metropolitan Division

Points: 96
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: M1
Games left: 15
Points pace: 118
Next game: @ PHI (Saturday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 95
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: M2
Games left: 14
Points pace: 115
Next game: @ FLA (Saturday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 88
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: M3
Games left: 14
Points pace: 106
Next game: vs. PIT (Saturday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 78
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 14
Points pace: 94
Next game: @ NYR (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 73%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 78
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 12
Points pace: 91
Next game: @ SJ (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 50%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 12
Points pace: 86
Next game: @ MIN (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 6%
Tragic number: 19

Points: 61
Regulation wins: 23
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Points pace: 74
Next game: vs. BOS (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 1%
Tragic number: 11

Points: 49
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 15
Points pace: 60
Next game: @ VGK (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Central Division

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: C1
Games left: 13
Points pace: 103
Next game: @ CGY (Saturday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 86
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: C2
Games left: 14
Points pace: 104
Next game: vs. BOS (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 84
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: C3
Games left: 15
Points pace: 103
Next game: @ DET (Saturday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 13
Points pace: 94
Next game: @ NSH (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 58%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 75
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 16
Points pace: 93
Next game: vs. WPG (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 27%
Tragic number: 28

Points: 65
Regulation wins: 22
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Points pace: 78
Next game: vs. WPG (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 1%
Tragic number: 14

Points: 63
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 13
Points pace: 75
Next game: vs. CHI (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 1%
Tragic number: 10

Points: 54
Regulation wins: 16
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Points pace: 65
Next game: @ ARI (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 1%
Tragic number: 3


Pacific Division

Points: 90
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: P1
Games left: 13
Points pace: 107
Next game: vs. CBJ (Sunday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 89
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: P2
Games left: 13
Points pace: 106
Next game: vs. VAN (Saturday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 84
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: P3
Games left: 13
Points pace: 100
Next game: @ SEA (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 98%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 83
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 14
Points pace: 100
Next game: vs. EDM (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 93%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 13
Points pace: 90
Next game: vs. DAL (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 26%
Tragic number: 23

Points: 63
Regulation wins: 18
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 15
Points pace: 77
Next game: @ LA (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 1%
Tragic number: 14

Points: 56
Regulation wins: 13
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 13
Points pace: 67
Next game: vs. VAN (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 1%
Tragic number: 3

Points: 52
Regulation wins: 14
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 13
Points pace: 62
Next game: vs. NYI (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


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 might 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: 49
Regulation wins: 15

Points: 52
Regulation wins: 14

Points: 54
Regulation wins: 16

Points: 56
Regulation wins: 13

Points: 60
Regulation wins: 18

Points: 61
Regulation wins: 23

Points: 63
Regulation wins: 18

Points: 63
Regulation wins: 19

Points: 65
Regulation wins: 22

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 24

Points: 70
Regulation wins: 26

Points: 72
Regulation wins: 25

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 25

Points: 75
Regulation wins: 25

Points: 75
Regulation wins: 29

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 25

Notes on traded picks impacting the top 16:

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