NHL playoff watch: A ‘loser leaves town match’ for Flyers, Sabres on Friday?

NHL

As the chaotic final stretch of the Eastern Conference wild-card race continues, Friday’s schedule includes four teams that could occupy the final spot when the Eastern schedule concludes April 17.

The Washington Capitals, fresh off a loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins, are skating against the Carolina Hurricanes (7 p.m. ET, NHL Power Play on ESPN+). Don’t feel bad for the Caps; the Canes are also on the second half of a back-to-back as they lost to the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.

Elsewhere, the Detroit Red Wings are hosting the New York Rangers (7 p.m. ET, NHL Power Play on ESPN+). Given the way the winds are currently blowing, the Rangers will be the team taking on whichever club winds up in the final wild-card slot.

Finally, the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers will take the ice (7 p.m. ET, NHL Power Play on ESPN+) in a matchup that will be devastating for the losing team’s playoff chances.

Heading into Friday night’s action, the Flyers (83 points, 28 regulation wins) hold the No. 3 spot in the Metro Division, the idle New York Islanders (83, 25) have the second wild card, while the Caps (82, 28), Red Wings (82, 26) and Sabres (77, 30) are chasing.

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
Friday’s schedule
Thursday’s scores
Expanded standings
Race for No. 1 pick

Current playoff matchups

Eastern Conference

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

Western Conference

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


Friday’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).

Philadelphia Flyers at Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m.
New York Rangers at Detroit Red Wings, 7 p.m.
Washington Capitals at Carolina Hurricanes, 7 p.m.
Colorado Avalanche at Edmonton Oilers, 9 p.m.
Vegas Golden Knights at Arizona Coyotes, 10 p.m.
Seattle Kraken at Anaheim Ducks, 10 p.m.


Thursday’s scoreboard

Tampa Bay Lightning 7, Montreal Canadiens 4
Florida Panthers 6, Ottawa Senators 0
Pittsburgh Penguins 4, Washington Capitals 1
Boston Bruins 4, Carolina Hurricanes 1
New York Islanders 4, Columbus Blue Jackets 2
Nashville Predators 6, St. Louis Blues 3
Colorado Avalanche 5, Minnesota Wild 2
Winnipeg Jets 5, Calgary Flames 2
Los Angeles Kings 2, San Jose Sharks 1


Expanded standings

Atlantic Division

Points: 105
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: A1
Games left: 5
Points pace: 112
Next game: vs. FLA (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 101
Regulation wins: 39
Playoff position: A2
Games left: 5
Points pace: 108
Next game: @ BOS (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 95
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: A3
Games left: 7
Points pace: 104
Next game: @ MTL (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 93
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 6
Points pace: 100
Next game: @ PIT (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 82
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 90
Next game: vs. NYR (Friday)
Playoff chances: 47%
Tragic number: 13

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 6
Points pace: 83
Next game: vs. PHI (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0.7%
Tragic number: 6

Points: 70
Regulation wins: 24
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 77
Next game: vs. NJ (Saturday)
Playoff chances: ~0%
Tragic number: 1

Points: 70
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 77
Next game: vs. TOR (Saturday)
Playoff chances: ~0%
Tragic number: 1


Metropolitan Division

Points: 106
Regulation wins: 40
Playoff position: M1
Games left: 6
Points pace: 114
Next game: @ DET (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 101
Regulation wins: 39
Playoff position: M2
Games left: 6
Points pace: 109
Next game: vs. WSH (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 83
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: M3
Games left: 6
Points pace: 90
Next game: @ BUF (Friday)
Playoff chances: 53.3%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 83
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 6
Points pace: 90
Next game: vs. NSH (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 34.6%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 82
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 90
Next game: @ CAR (Friday)
Playoff chances: 53.7%
Tragic number: 13

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 6
Points pace: 87
Next game: vs. TB (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 10.4%
Tragic number: 10

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 6
Points pace: 82
Next game: @ OTT (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 0.3%
Tragic number: 5

Points: 62
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 6
Points pace: 67
Next game: vs. PHI (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Central Division

Points: 105
Regulation wins: 37
Playoff position: C1
Games left: 6
Points pace: 113
Next game: @ CHI (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 102
Regulation wins: 40
Playoff position: C2
Games left: 6
Points pace: 110
Next game: @ EDM (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 98
Regulation wins: 41
Playoff position: C3
Games left: 6
Points pace: 106
Next game: @ MIN (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 92
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 6
Points pace: 99
Next game: @ NYI (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 98.3%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 84
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 6
Points pace: 91
Next game: @ SJ (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 3.5%
Tragic number: 5

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 89
Next game: vs. WPG (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 1.9%
Tragic number: 4

Points: 67
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 73
Next game: vs. VGK (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 49
Regulation wins: 16
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 54
Next game: vs. DAL (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Pacific Division

Points: 102
Regulation wins: 41
Playoff position: P1
Games left: 6
Points pace: 110
Next game: @ LA (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 95
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: P2
Games left: 8
Points pace: 105
Next game: vs. COL (Friday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 92
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: P3
Games left: 7
Points pace: 101
Next game: @ ARI (Friday)
Playoff chances: 99.6%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 91
Regulation wins: 34
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 6
Points pace: 98
Next game: vs. VAN (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 96.8%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 75
Regulation wins: 25
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 82
Next game: @ ANA (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 80
Next game: vs. EDM (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 54
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 6
Points pace: 58
Next game: vs. SEA (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 42
Regulation wins: 13
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Points pace: 46
Next game: vs. STL (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 Macklin Celebrini, a freshman at Boston University.

Points: 42
Regulation wins: 13

Points: 49
Regulation wins: 16

Points: 54
Regulation wins: 19

Points: 62
Regulation wins: 19

Points: 67
Regulation wins: 25

Points: 70
Regulation wins: 19

Points: 70
Regulation wins: 24

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 29

Points: 75
Regulation wins: 25

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 31

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 30

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 29

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 30

Points: 82
Regulation wins: 26

Points: 82
Regulation wins: 28

Points: 84
Regulation wins: 29

* 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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