What We're Watching In The NHL's Playoff Races
After plenty of twists and turns (and game postponements), the NHL's 2021 regular-season journey is nearly over. The average team now has just 10.6 remaining games in which to make its final case for the postseason -- though in all practicality, many of those playoff spots are basically clinched already. According to our Elo-based model, 13 teams have at least a 98 percent chance of grabbing one of the 16 available playoff berths, leaving just a few remaining slots up for grabs. Here's the state of each of those outstanding races, as our model sees it: (Apologies to the East, where the four most likely playoff teams -- the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders at over 99 percent, the Washington Capitals at 99 percent and the Boston Bruins at 98 percent -- are all almost certain to make it, thus robbing us of a dramatic playoff chase in that division.) The main battle: Dallas Stars (50 percent) versus Nashville Predators (39 percent)Season series: Nashville leads 4-3-0Remaining head-to-head matchups: one (May 1)The spoiler: Chicago Blackhawks (11 percent) The best remaining playoff chase has already had its share of developments this season, as both Nashville and Dallas started the year cold before going on recent hot streaks to emerge as front-runners over Chicago. The Stars are looking to replicate the same defense-and-goaltending formula that helped carry them to the...
- Neil Paine