The final week of the NHL regular season is upon us.
Most of the Stanley Cup playoff field is set, but there are still six spots mathematically up for grabs. Are these wild-card positions really open, or just waiting to be clinched by the teams currently in those places?
In AccuScore's final 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs forecast, the remainder of the NHL season was simulated 10,000 times to predict win totals, division winners and probabilities of reaching the playoffs on the road to the Stanley Cup. Below are the probabilities and Vegas odds of making the NHL playoffs and how they have changed.
AccuScore's odds to make NHL playoffs
Probability vs. weekly % change
|Tampa Bay Lightning||100.00||0|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||100.00||0|
|Vegas Golden Knights||100.00||0|
|San Jose Sharks||100.00||+1.0|
|Los Angeles Kings||99.80||+32.0|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||99.60||+14.0|
|New Jersey Devils||94.20||+18.0|
|St. Louis Blues||51.70||+18.0|
Eliminated from playoff contention (0.00%): Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks, Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Dallas Stars, Carolina Hurricanes, Calgary Flames
Eastern Conference playoff picture
Both wild cards and the final Metropolitan Division playoff spot are available in the final week. Currently, Columbus, Philadelphia and New Jersey occupy those places. Florida is the one team that can disrupt the order, but that's become unlikely.
Of the four teams, the Panthers have played one game fewer, but they remain five points behind the Devils entering Tuesday. Catching New Jersey would require wins over the top team in both conferences as the Panthers play Boston twice and Nashville once in their final four games. Based on simulations, there is only a 6.7 percent chance that the Panthers will overtake any of the three teams during the last games of the season.
Western Conference playoff picture
In the Western Conference, both wild cards and one spot from the Pacific Division remain up for grabs. Both Southern California teams — Los Angeles and Anaheim — have made a strong push to the playoffs by losing only two games out of their last 10. One will settle for a wild-card spot, but both will get in.
St. Louis Blues 51.70 +18.0
Colorado is directly behind them in the wild-card race, but St. Louis is right there, too, and it's going to be a wild stretch for both teams to decide who's in and out. The Blues have played one game fewer than the Avalanche and are just one point behind them.
However, the Blues have lost their last three games and could be falling into another streak at the wrong time. Fate is still in their own hands as they see last-place Chicago twice, setting up a showdown with the Avalanche on Saturday that could serve as a de facto play-in game.
AccuScore's NHL playoff probabilities will be updated on a weekly basis.