NHL Playoff Picture 2018: Latest Conference Standings, Seeds and Predictions

Brad Marchand has the Bruins charging toward the playoffs.

Brad Marchand has the Bruins charging toward the playoffs.Associated Press

The 2017-18 NHL regular season is ticking down to its conclusion on April 7, and points are at a premium as teams jockey for playoff position and try to earn home-ice advantage.

The Atlantic Division appears to be a done deal for the three teams on top. The Tampa Bay Lightning have a four-point lead over the Boston Bruins, and the Toronto Maple Leafs trail the Bruins by five points. Those three teams should find their playoff positions sealed before the season ends.

The Bruins could catch Tampa Bay since they have two games in hand and two games remaining with the Lightning. Boston defeated Tampa Bay 3-0 at Amalie Arena on Saturday night, even though the Bruins competed without Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy and Jake DeBrusk.

Boston signed U.S. Olympian Ryan Donato to a two-year contract Sunday, per the NHL’s official website, and he could see game action when Boston hosts the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday. 

The up-to-date NHL standings can be viewed on the league’s website.

The Washington Capitals have a two-point lead over the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Metropolitan Division, and the Philadelphia Flyers are two points behind the Penguins in third.

However, those teams are being chased by the Columbus Blue Jackets and New Jersey Devils. The Jackets and Devils are holding down the two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference.

The Florida Panthers were on a solid run toward one of those wild-card spots, but they lost two of their past three home games, which hurt their chances of making the playoffs.

Other Eastern Conference teams like the Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers and New York Islanders are still technically alive, but they are unlikely to make serious runs at any of the playoff spot.

Reilly Smith and the Vegas Golden Knights remain in first place in the Pacific Division.

Reilly Smith and the Vegas Golden Knights remain in first place in the Pacific Division.Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

The Vegas Golden Knights picked up a 4-0 victory at home over the Calgary Flames on Sunday, and while the expansion team has slowed up in recent games, the Knights are still firmly in first place in the Western Conference’s Pacific Division. The San Jose Sharks are in second place, while the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks are battling for third place in the division.

The team that falls short in the battle for third will still have a chance to make the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues and Calgary Flames are also fighting for the two wild-card spots.

The Nashville Predators are in the top spot in the Central Division, and they have become the first team to clinch a spot in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Preds have a healthy lead over the Winnipeg Jets, who are in second place in the division, while the Minnesota Wild are trying to hold off the Avalanche and Stars for third place and an automatic playoff berth.

Predictions

Atlantic Division

1. Boston Bruins
2. Tampa Bay Lightning*
3. Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan Division

1. Washington Capitals
2. Pittsburgh Penguins
3. Philadelphia Flyers

Eastern Conference Wild Cards

1. Columbus Blue Jackets
2. New Jersey Devils

Central Division

1. Nashville Predators*
2. Winnipeg Jets
3. Minnesota Wild

Pacific Division

1. Vegas Golden Knights
2. San Jose Sharks
3. Anaheim Ducks

Western Conference Wild Cards

1. Colorado Avalanche
2. Los Angeles Kings

*Clinched playoff spot.

Presidents’ Trophy (home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs): Nashville Predators