The race for final few Western Conference playoff spots is heating up
Not a day goes by without a change in the eight teams in playoff position in the Western Conference, which only makes the NHL betting analysis all the more challenging.
The Arizona Coyotes and Seattle Kraken are the only Western Conference teams to be eliminated from playoff contention, although the Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks will soon join that list. That leaves 11 teams fighting for eight spots in what is going to be a chaotic race to the finish.
Keep on reading for more on the teams and betting info on NHL playoff teams from the Western Conference.
Leading the Pack
The Colorado Avalanche is the only team in the Western Conference to have already clinched a spot in the postseason. Colorado leads the Central Division by 15 points and has a 13-point lead in the race for the top seed in the Western Conference with just 12 games left to play.
The Calgary Flames lead the Pacific Division by six points with either one or two games in hand on the teams chasing them. The NHL betting odds aren’t quite as overwhelming when it comes to the Flames winning their third division title in the last 25 years, but it would take a meltdown by Calgary for the Flames not to win the Pacific Division.
Wild vs Blues Playoff Matchup Likely
While there’s much to be decided when it comes to the playoff showdowns, it seems rather likely that a Wild vs. Blues matchup will happen in the first round of the playoffs.
Heading into Thursday’s action, Minnesota is tied for the second-most points in the NHL since March 1. With both teams posting significantly better records at home than on the road, the race for second place in the Central Division takes on even more importance.
Minnesota, with 13 games left, leads a St. Louis team with 12 games remaining by a point. There will be two Blues vs Wild showdowns the rest of the way, which should help with NHL playoff betting odds when the postseason begins.
Oilers, Kings Chasing Calgary in Pacific
While a first-round matchup between the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings isn’t quite the sure thing of the scenario with the Wild and Blues, Edmonton and Los Angeles do have a little breathing room on Vegas and Vancouver when it comes to NHL betting odds.
The Oilers are rolling at home with a 9-1 record at Rogers Place since the start of March while averaging 4.9 goals per game, so there will be a huge difference if Edmonton opens the postseason on the road or at home. The Oilers’ ability to dominate on home ice will be factored into the NHL betting analysis.
Wild Card Race Should be Wild
This is where it gets fun.
If Minnesota, St. Louis, Edmonton and Los Angeles earn playoff spots by finishing in the top three in their respective divisions, that leaves five teams fighting it out for the final two spots. Here are the breakdowns with the records updated through Wednesday’s results along with some information that could help with the NHL betting analysis.
Regulation wins: 33
Games remaining: 13 (nine against playoff teams)
Nashville’s schedule the rest of the way is certainly not the easiest in the NHL with a six-game stretch against teams all currently in playoff position.
The Predators have been a little inconsistent in dropping three games to non-playoff teams since the start of March. Nashville can’t afford any future slip-ups with teams trying to chase Nashville down.
Defenseman Roman Josi is on a big-time offensive surge and is one point off the NHL scoring lead since the start of March.
It won’t be easy for the Predators, although having the regular season-finale against an Arizona team already eliminated from the postseason could be huge because the final playoff spot may very well come down to the final night of the 2021-22 campaign.
Regulation wins: 26
Games remaining: 13 (six against playoff teams)
All you need to know about what a bumpy ride it has been for the Dallas Stars can be summed up in a 12-game stretch in November and December. Dallas won seven games in a row followed by a five-game losing streak. Just when it seems like the Stars might have everything figured out and they are climbing into playoff position, they will hit a rough patch.
With Joe Pavelski, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn joined by Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz, scoring goals isn’t much of a problem although getting production from all four lines has been a bit of a challenge.
Dallas has games in hand on the teams chasing them in the Western Conference as it seeks to hold onto the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Vegas Golden Knights
Regulation wins: 31
Games remaining: 10 (five against playoff teams)
It would have been unthinkable that the Golden Knights would be fighting just to get into the playoffs when the season started.
However, the decision to trade away Vezina Trophy winner Marc-Andre Fleury came back to haunt Vegas when starting goalie Robin Lehner was forced to miss time. Logan Thompson has played well as of late, but there were too many games when inconsistent goaltending cost Vegas valuable points in the standings.
Having Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone miss a combined 87 games has also caught up with the Golden Knights. Despite the struggles, Vegas is only a point out of the final playoff spot. Pacioretty and Stone are back skating but there is no timetable for their return. If Vegas gets into the playoffs and have Pacioretty, Stone and Lehner in the lineup, this is not a team that you would want to draw in the postseason, especially now that Jack Eichel is starting to heat up.
Regulation wins: 27
Games remaining: 11 (six against playoff teams)
Vancouver has looked like a playoff team since Bruce Boudreau was brought in as the head coach in early December, posting a 25-13-8 record. However, there was just too much room to make up and too many teams ahead of them. The Canucks would practically have to get points in every game the rest of the way to have a chance.
Vancouver’s .500 record at home and 10 overtime or shootout losses will ultimately seal its fate.
Regulation wins: 26
Games remaining: 11 (seven against playoff teams)
Winnipeg has struggled to string together results on the road and that will keep the Jets out of the playoffs.
The Jets are 5-1-1 in one-goal games since the start of March, but lost five straight one-goal games in January that left too much room for Winnipeg to make up.
Like Vancouver, it would take something special for the Jets to sneak into the playoffs. It is a shame because Kyle Connor has had a breakout season with career highs of 41 goals and 82 points to give the Jets four 20-goal scorers.