With the midway point of the NHL season now here, we have a rather solid idea of which teams might be heading to the playoffs and which will be sitting home. That said, things tend to change rather dramatically in the second half of the season, usually after teams make moves at the trade deadline. Muddying the waters a little this season is the fact that there are a lot of teams out there who have games in hand after missing a bunch during the most recent COVID outbreak. That makes the current standings not quite as accurate as they would be if no teams had missed any games. The standings will almost certainly look different once everyone has made up those lost games, but who will make the playoffs? Let’s see if we can break it all down so you can get all set to plan your bets against the NHL Playoffs odds.
NHL Mid-Season Teams to Reach Playoffs: Favorites, Upsets, Dark Horses
As it stands now, the Eastern Conference looks a good deal clearer cut than the Western Conference, but as we said, things can and will change. With the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers already crossing the 60-point mark, they look to be an absolute lock to part of the playoff picture. The same can probably be said for the New York Rangers, who are currently sitting atop the Metropolitan Division with 60 points.
Dropping a little further down the standings, we have the Maple Leafs, Hurricanes, and Penguins all sitting in the automatic playoff berths in their respective divisions. As far as the Wild Card goes, we have the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins occupying those two spots. I like the Bruins to move up and out of that spot, as they are playing great hockey and still have a bunch of games in hand to the teams ahead of them.
The gap between the final playoff spot and the chasing pack sits at 8 points, but again, those games in hand could be huge. One team to watch out for is the New York Islanders. They are a massive 16 points below the playoff line, but they have 5 games in hand to the Bruins and 9 in hand to the Capitals. They are also playing well and could start eating away at that gap.
The only team right now that looks to be a lock for the playoffs is the Colorado Avalanche, as they are beginning to run away with the Central Division. With so many games affected by COVID, the Pacific Division is a good deal tighter and a little tougher to call but given that the Vegas Golden Knights have the lead and have been a permanent playoff fixture, you would like them to get in, too.
The Blues and Predators also look like a good bet to be in the postseason, but beyond that, things are a little tougher to predict. The biggest issue being that the teams who have games in hand are going to have those make-up games coming thick and fast.
I would keep an eye on the Calgary Flames, who are currently in a Wild Card spot, but who could still be a decent pick to win the Pacific Division once they make up all the games they have in hand. I fear that the LA Kings, who currently have an automatic berth, could get swallowed up and spit out once the teams below them start making up games.