NHL playoff watch: What’s on the line for the Blues and Predators on Sunday

    Tim Kavanagh is a senior NHL editor for ESPN. He’s a native of upstate New York.

Today’s matchup between the Nashville Predators and the St. Louis Blues (6 ET, NHL Network) is the final contest of the 2021-22 regular season between the two clubs, as they both prepare for (likely) playoff runs. St. Louis has won two of three games in the season series thus far, with the most recent bout ending in a 7-4 win for the Blues in Nashville.

The Blues are coming off a thrilling 6-5 overtime win over the Minnesota Wild (their likely first-round opponent) on Saturday, while the Predators earned a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. St. Louis now has a one-point edge over Minnesota in the race to earn home-ice advantage, but a seven-game edge in the regulation wins column. Meanwhile, Nashville is holding strong to the West’s No. 1 wild card (and most likely a first-round matchup against the Calgary Flames), with an equivalent 91 points to the Dallas Stars but a six-game edge in regulation wins.

As it pertains to the rest of the playoff race for each team, the Preds are in need of points a little more than the Blues; five out of the remaining six games for Nashville down the stretch are against playoff-bound teams, while only two of six can be categorized as such for St. Louis (plus one matchup with the bubble-residing Vegas Golden Knights). Will that mean Nashville will be pressing harder in this one?

As we enter the final stretch of the 2021-22 regular season, it’s time to check in on all the playoff races — along with the teams jockeying for position in the 2022 NHL draft lottery.

Note: Playoff chances are via FiveThirtyEight. Tragic numbers are courtesy of Damian Echevarrieta of the NHL.

Current playoff matchups

Eastern Conference

A1 Florida Panthers vs. WC2 Washington Capitals
A2 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. A3 Tampa Bay Lightning
M1 Carolina Hurricanes vs. WC1 Boston Bruins
M2 New York Rangers vs. M3 Pittsburgh Penguins

Western Conference

C1 Colorado Avalanche vs. WC2 Dallas Stars
C2 St. Louis Blues vs. C3 Minnesota Wild
P1 Calgary Flames vs. WC1 Nashville Predators
P2 Edmonton Oilers vs. P3 Los Angeles Kings

Today’s games

Note: All times Eastern. All out-of-market, non-NHL Network games available to stream on ESPN+.

Florida Panthers at Detroit Red Wings, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Buffalo Sabres at Philadelphia Flyers, 5 p.m.
St. Louis Blues at Nashville Predators, 6 p.m. (NHLN)
San Jose Sharks at Minnesota Wild, 6 p.m.
New York Islanders at Toronto Maple Leafs, 7:30 p.m.
Columbus Blue Jackets at Anaheim Ducks, 8:30 p.m.

Last night’s scoreboard

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

Boston Bruins 2, Pittsburgh Penguins 1
New York Rangers 4, Detroit Red Wings 0
Nashville Predators 4, Chicago Blackhawks 3
St. Louis Blues 6, Minnesota Wild 5 (OT)
Edmonton Oilers 4, Vegas Golden Knights 0
Buffalo Sabres 4, Philadelphia Flyers 3
Washington Capitals 8, Montreal Canadiens 4
Toronto Maple Leafs 5, Ottawa Senators 4 (OT)
Tampa Bay Lightning 7, Winnipeg Jets 4
Dallas Stars 2, San Jose Sharks 1
Colorado Avalanche 7, Carolina Hurricanes 4
Calgary Flames 9, Arizona Coyotes 1
Seattle Kraken 4, New Jersey Devils 3 (SO)
Los Angeles Kings 2, Columbus Blue Jackets 1

Expanded standings

Atlantic Division

x – Florida Panthers

Points: 112
Regulation wins: 39
Playoff position: A1
Games left: 8
Next game: @ DET (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x – Toronto Maple Leafs

Points: 104
Regulation wins: 41
Playoff position: A2
Games left: 7
Next game: vs. NYI (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x – Tampa Bay Lightning

Points: 100
Regulation wins: 34
Playoff position: A3
Games left: 7
Next game: vs. DET (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x – Boston Bruins

Points: 97
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 7
Next game: @ STL (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

e – Detroit Red Wings

Points: 68
Regulation wins: 18
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Next game: vs. FLA (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e – Buffalo Sabres

Points: 67
Regulation wins: 22
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 5
Next game: @ PHI (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e – Ottawa Senators

Points: 63
Regulation wins: 24
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Next game: @ SEA (Monday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e – Montreal Canadiens

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 14
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 6
Next game: vs. MIN (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Metropolitan Division

x – Carolina Hurricanes

Points: 104
Regulation wins: 42
Playoff position: M1
Games left: 6
Next game: @ ARI (Monday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x – New York Rangers

Points: 104
Regulation wins: 41
Playoff position: M2
Games left: 6
Next game: vs. WPG (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x – Pittsburgh Penguins

Points: 97
Regulation wins: 34
Playoff position: M3
Games left: 5
Next game: vs. BOS (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Washington Capitals

Points: 94
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 7
Next game: @ COL (Monday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

New York Islanders

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Next game: @ TOR (Sunday)
Playoff chances: <1%
Tragic number: 1

e – Columbus Blue Jackets

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 24
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Next game: @ ANA (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e – New Jersey Devils

Points: 59
Regulation wins: 18
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Next game: @ VGK (Monday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e – Philadelphia Flyers

Points: 57
Regulation wins: 18
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Next game: vs. BUF (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Central Division

z – Colorado Avalanche

Points: 116
Regulation wins: 45
Playoff position: C1
Games left: 7
Next game: vs. WSH (Monday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

x – St. Louis Blues

Points: 100
Regulation wins: 40
Playoff position: C3
Games left: 7
Next game: @ NSH (Sunday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

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Minnesota Wild

Points: 99
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: C2
Games left: 8
Next game: vs. SJ (Sunday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Nashville Predators

Points: 91
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 7
Next game: vs. STL (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 90%
Tragic number: N/A

Dallas Stars

Points: 91
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 7
Next game: @ VAN (Monday)
Playoff chances: 89%
Tragic number: N/A

Winnipeg Jets

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 6
Next game: @ NYR (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: <1%
Tragic number: 2

e – Chicago Blackhawks

Points: 61
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Next game: vs. CGY (Monday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e – Arizona Coyotes

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

Pacific Division

x – Calgary Flames

Points: 101
Regulation wins: 41
Playoff position: P1
Games left: 7
Next game: @ CHI (Monday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Edmonton Oilers

Points: 94
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: P2
Games left: 6
Next game: vs. DAL (Wednesday)
Playoff chances: 98%
Tragic number: N/A

Los Angeles Kings

Points: 90
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: P3
Games left: 5
Next game: @ ANA (Tuesday)
Playoff chances: 50%
Tragic number: N/A

Vegas Golden Knights

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 6
Next game: vs. NJ (Monday)
Playoff chances: 63%
Tragic number: 9

Vancouver Canucks

Points: 84
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 7
Next game: vs. DAL (Monday)
Playoff chances: 10%
Tragic number: 8

e – Anaheim Ducks

Points: 72
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 6
Next game: vs. CBJ (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e – San Jose Sharks

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Next game: @ MIN (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

e – Seattle Kraken

Points: 54
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 8
Next game: vs. OTT (Monday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Race for the No. 1 pick

The NHL uses a draft lottery to determine the order at the top of the first round, so the team that finishes in last place is not guaranteed the No. 1 selection. As of 2021, a team may 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.

1. Arizona Coyotes

Points: 49
Regulation wins: 16

2. Montreal Canadiens

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 14

3. Seattle Kraken

Points: 54
Regulation wins: 20

4. Philadelphia Flyers

Points: 57
Regulation wins: 18

5. New Jersey Devils

Points: 59
Regulation wins: 18

6. Chicago Blackhawks

Points: 61
Regulation wins: 15

7. Ottawa Senators

Points: 63
Regulation wins: 24

8. Buffalo Sabres

Points: 67
Regulation wins: 22

9. Detroit Red Wings

Points: 68
Regulation wins: 18

10. San Jose Sharks

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 20

11. Anaheim Ducks

Points: 72
Regulation wins: 20

12. Columbus Blue Jackets

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 24

13. New York Islanders

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 32

14. Winnipeg Jets

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 28

15. Vancouver Canucks

Points: 84
Regulation wins: 30

16. Vegas Golden Knights

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 33

Notes on conditionally traded picks impacting the top 16:

  • Columbus will receive Chicago’s first-round pick if Chicago does not win either of the two draws in the 2022 draft lottery. Otherwise, the pick defers to 2023.

  • Buffalo will receive Vegas’ first-round pick if it is outside the top 10 selections. Otherwise, the pick defers to 2023.

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