Who will miss out on the NHL postseason this year?
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Who will miss out on the NHL postseason this year?

The NHL playoffs are right around the corner and it seems clear which teams will progress from the Divisions’ best—but, which fringe teams are going to progress to the postseason?

The realigned NHL divisions have meant this has been an uncharacteristic NHL regular-season by all accounts. The Stanley Cup format has also been changed as there are no Eastern and Western Conferences, which provides opportunities for more teams to push for the postseason this spring.

The new format means that the top four teams from each division will reach the postseason. This means we won’t see wild-card teams progressing in 2021. The new format could see two teams that would traditionally be in the same conference meet in the Stanley Cup Final.

The COVID-19 pandemic has done very little for most people, but this intriguing alteration to the way things are set up is certainly a welcomed change by many NHL fans.

While this all sounds very good in theory, teams still need to make the top four spots if they are to get to the playoffs. For the most part, there are only 10 or so games left for teams across the four divisions. This provides a clear indication of which teams will be battling it out until the final games of the NHL regular season.

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  • West Division

    There are no surprises to see the Golden Knights and Avalanche progress to the postseason, but the Minnesota Wild wouldn’t have been too high up on the oddsmakers' futures tables at the start of the season. However, the Wild have had a great campaign so far and deserve the third spot in the West.

    Aside from those 3, it’s that fourth place that is one of the tightest playoff races in the league. The 2019 Stanley Cup winners the St. Louis Blues are battling it out with the Arizona Coyotes, Sharks, and Kings.

    While there are four teams in contention, given the fixture list and strength of each team, we expect the battle to go down to just the Blues and Coyotes. There is only one fixture between these two teams remaining, meaning it could go down to the head-to-head match. Both teams are on losing streaks right now and need a change of fortune if they are to make a dash for the playoff spot.

    We expect this one to go to the wire, with the Blues edging out the Coyotes in the final stages of the regular season. They have had a very tough season, but have enough to progress.

    Central Division

    The other division that is rather interesting is the Central, where the Blackhawks, Predators, and last seasons’ finalists the Dallas Stars battle it out for that fourth spot. The Predators look like the favorites right now, but with so little between them, it could swing in favor of any of them.

    The Predators have probably been the best team over the course of the entire season. But, the Blackhawks are starting to show how they can play on the ice. They opened their campaign with seven losses in their first nine games, but have since turned things around.

    Nashville and Dallas look the strongest right now and we fully expect this to turn into a two-horse race, as we approach the final few games. The fixture list looks tougher for the Blackhawks and right now they sit behind the other two. We tip the Preds to maintain their form and grab the final spot in the Central Division.

    North and East Divisions

    Things are looking a little more clear-cut in the remaining divisions. The Maple Leafs, Jets, Oilers, and Canadiens will qualify in the North. Well, you just never know, but it’s highly likely it’ll end up that way. It would be a surprise collapse if any of those teams miss out. The Canadiens are the team that might miss out, but they have played the least of the games out of all the teams competing for the fourth spot.

    While over in the East, it shouldn’t be as close as it is. The Capitals, Penguins, and Islanders are going to make it through by the looks of it. While it looks pretty clear-cut now, a few weeks ago the struggling Bruins were looking particularly shaky.

    However, they now sit on a 6-game win streak and look like they’ll be dominating as they should have been throughout the season. The Bruins started the year off strongly but dropped off during the midseason. The Rangers and Flyers are the only teams in contention, but with the Bruins pulling away now, the East Division looks wrapped up.

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