Sports

NHL playoff watch: Penguins-Wild highlights Thursday’s slate

Throughout the course of a season, players that have been traded or signed elsewhere in free agency will skate against former teammates, and this process plays out hundreds of times. Tonight’s game at the Xcel Energy Center will be a bit different — as Marc-Andre Fleury‘s last game with the Pittsburgh Penguins was nearly five years ago. Nevertheless, for one of the newest members of the Minnesota Wild, there will be a lot of familiar faces wearing flightless birds on their sweaters tonight.

Beyond any familiarity between Fleury, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and others, this matchup is a true gem among the nine on the schedule. Entering the game, the host Wild are the No. 2 team in the Central Division, currently slated to have home-ice advantage in a first-round series against the Nashville Predators. As for the Penguins, they’re jockeying for home-ice with the New York Rangers in the Metropolitan Division’s No. 2 vs. No. 3 matchup. And yes, in certain possible future worlds, tonight’s matchup could be repeated in June in the Stanley Cup Final, too. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.

These two teams skated to a 5-4 shootout win by the Wild back on Nov. 6 in Pittsburgh, a game which included a combined 79 shots on goal. Will we see that much offense tonight?

As we enter the post-deadline span 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.

Jump ahead:
Current playoff matchups
Today’s games
Last night’s scores
Expanded standings
Race for No. 1 pick

Current playoff matchups

Eastern Conference

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

Western Conference

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


Today’s games

Note: All times Eastern. All out-of-market games available on ESPN+

New Jersey Devils at Boston Bruins, 7 p.m.
Winnipeg Jets at Toronto Maple Leafs, 7 p.m.
Chicago Blackhawks at Florida Panthers, 7 p.m.
Columbus Blue Jackets at New York Islanders, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ national)
Montreal Canadiens at Carolina Hurricanes, 7 p.m.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Minnesota Wild, 8 p.m.
San Jose Sharks at Colorado Avalanche, 9 p.m.
Los Angeles Kings at Calgary Flames, 9 p.m.
Dallas Stars at Anaheim Ducks, 10 p.m.


Last night’s scoreboard

Watch “In The Crease” on ESPN+ for highlights from every game.

Winnipeg Jets 3, Buffalo Sabres 2 (SO)
New York Rangers 5, Detroit Red Wings 4 (OT)
Edmonton Oilers 4, Los Angeles Kings, 3 (SO)
St. Louis Blues 4, Vancouver Canucks 3
Arizona Coyotes 5, San Jose Sharks 2
Vegas Golden Knights 3, Seattle Kraken 0


Expanded standings

Atlantic Division

Points: 96
Regulation wins: 34
Playoff position: A1
Games left: 16
Next game: vs. CHI (Thursday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 90
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: A2
Games left: 16
Next game: vs. CHI (Friday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 89
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: A3
Games left: 16
Next game: vs. WPG (Thursday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 16
Next game: vs. NJ (Thursday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 61
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 15
Next game: vs. OTT (Friday)
Playoff chances: 1%
Tragic number: 7

Points: 59
Regulation wins: 18
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Next game: vs. NSH (Friday)
Playoff chances: 1%
Tragic number: 4

Points: 52
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 16
Next game: @ DET (Friday)
Playoff chances: 1%
Tragic number: 1

Points: 47
Regulation wins: 13
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 15
Next game: @ CAR (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Metropolitan Division

Points: 96
Regulation wins: 38
Playoff position: M1
Games left: 15
Next game: vs. MTL (Thursday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 93
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: M2
Games left: 14
Next game: vs. NYI (Friday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 90
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: M3
Games left: 14
Next game: @ MIN (Thursday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 84
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 14
Next game: vs. MIN (Sunday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 22
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 15
Next game: @ NYI (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 1%
Tragic number: 15

Points: 67
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 17
Next game: vs. CBJ (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 1%
Tragic number: 17

Points: 53
Regulation wins: 17
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 15
Next game: vs. TOR (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 53
Regulation wins: 16
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 16
Next game: @ BOS (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 1%
Tragic number: 2


Central Division

Points: 100
Regulation wins: 39
Playoff position: C1
Games left: 15
Next game: vs. SJ (Thursday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 86
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: C2
Games left: 17
Next game: vs. PIT (Thursday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 83
Regulation wins: 34
Playoff position: C3
Games left: 16
Next game: @ EDM (Friday)
Playoff chances: 98%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 82
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 15
Next game: @ BUF (Friday)
Playoff chances: 94%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 24
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 17
Next game: @ ANA (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 82%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Next game: @ TOR (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 12%
Tragic number: 27

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 15
Next game: @ FLA (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 1%
Tragic number: 11

Points: 47
Regulation wins: 16
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 15
Next game: vs. ANA (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Pacific Division

Points: 88
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: P1
Games left: 16
Next game: vs. LA (Thursday)
Playoff chances: >99%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 82
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: P2
Games left: 13
Next game: @ CGY (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 77%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 81
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: P3
Games left: 14
Next game: vs. STL (Friday)
Playoff chances: 83%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 78
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 13
Next game: @ SEA (Friday)
Playoff chances: 54%
Tragic number: 27

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 13
Next game: vs. VGK (Sunday)
Playoff chances: 5%
Tragic number: 24

Points: 66
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 16
Next game: @ COL (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 1%
Tragic number: 23

Points: 65
Regulation wins: 18
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Next game: vs. DAL (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 1%
Tragic number: 16

Points: 48
Regulation wins: 18
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 15
Next game: vs. VGK (Friday)
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.

Points: 47
Regulation wins: 13

Points: 47
Regulation wins: 16

Points: 48
Regulation wins: 18

Points: 52
Regulation wins: 19

Points: 53
Regulation wins: 16

Points: 53
Regulation wins: 17

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 15

Points: 59
Regulation wins: 18

Points: 61
Regulation wins: 15

Points: 65
Regulation wins: 18

Points: 66
Regulation wins: 20

Points: 67
Regulation wins: 27

Points: 69
Regulation wins: 22

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 26

Points: 76
Regulation wins: 26

Points: 77
Regulation wins: 24

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