In the NHL’s Western Conference, four teams are vying for, essentially, two playoff spots. The Vegas Golden Knights and St. Louis Blues each have 90 points and rank third in their division. Below them are the two wild card spots held by the Dallas Stars with 86 points and Colorado Avalanche with 83 points. Then come the Arizona Coyotes with 81 points and the Minnesota Wild with 79 points.
The bottom four teams each has five games to play before the end of the regular season. Here’s what’s in store for each team as the 2018-19 regular season draws to a close.
The Stars beat the Calgary Flames on Wednesday to move within four points of the St. Louis Blues for third in the Central Division. After the victory, they have a 99.2% chance of making the playoffs (all stats courtesy of Sportsclubstats.com)
If the Stars need any incentive to solidify their position, if the postseason started today, they’d play the Winnipeg Jets in the first round, a team they have beat handily in 2018-19, winning the season series 3-1-0.
Up next: The Stars are on a four-game road trip. With wins against the Jets (5-2) and Flames (2-1), they face the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night before finishing their all-Canadian road trip against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday. Both teams are well out of the playoffs.
The Stars return to American Airlines Arena on Tuesday to face the Philadelphia Flyers. They close out their season with back-to-back contests against the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild. There is no reason the Stars should miss the playoffs given their remaining schedule.
With a 4-3 victory over the Golden Knights on Wednesday, the Avalanche are two points ahead of the Arizona Coyotes for the second wild-card spot. After a 5-0-1 record in their last six games, the Avs now have a 73% chance of making the postseason.
However, if the playoffs started today, they would face the Calgary Flames in the first round, a team that has given them considerable trouble this season. They have not won in the three-game season series, though two games were decided by one goal, including an overtime loss.
Up next: The Avalanche have a critical game against the Coyotes on Friday night. The Coyotes are only two points back and would win the tiebreak to get into the playoffs.
They have four games in April before the end of the season with back-to-back contests against the Blues and Oilers before facing the Jets on Apr. 4 and closing out their season on the road against the San Jose Sharks on Apr. 6 at SAP Center. The Avs have to keep their winning streak up a tad longer if they want to clinch.
After a crucial 1-0 win over the Blackhawks on Wednesday, the Coyotes are still alive. They trail the Avs by two points but have only a 23.7% chance of making their first playoff appearance since 2012-13 (including two seasons as Phoenix).
Up next: The Coyotes’ schedule isn’t helping their case. After another critical game against the Avalanche on Friday, the Coyotes then host the Wild, who are two points back and also chasing a playoff spot. The ‘Yotes host the LA Kings on Apr 2 but then have to face the Golden Knights and Jets to close out their season, teams that will want to hone their skills before heading into the 2019 NHL Playoffs.
It’s not looking good for the Coyotes.
With 77 points, the Wild are two points back of the Coyotes and four points behind the Avalanche for the second wild-card spot. After a 1-0 loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, the Wild have a 3.5% chance of making the playoffs.
Up next: The Wild have a near-impossible schedule to push for a playoff appearance. They visit the Golden Knights on Friday before travelling to Arizona for a desperate match against the Coyotes. They face the Jets, Boston Bruins and, unfortunately, the Stars to close out their regular season – all teams expected to make the playoffs.
It’s looking worse for the Wild.
There’s just over a week left in the 2018-19 NHL regular season. As they say, anything can happen, but the odds are in favour of the Stars and Avalanche to clinch their postseason berths before Apr. 6.