The end of the NHL regular season is fast approaching, and four teams are already through to the playoffs. However ,there are 12 play-off places still up for grabs and three Canadian teams still in the running for them.
All of them will be in action over the coming days, so let’s look at their matches and run through the NHL Odds.
Flames vs. Golden Knights
The best bet currently for a play-off spot is the Calgary Flames who are sitting pretty at the top of the Pacific Division, nine points ahead of the pack and as good as through to the playoffs. Hence, the pressure is very much on the Las Vegas Knights in their upcoming match-up.
The Knights are only sitting in fourth spot after having a very disappointing season. They have it all to play for in this match as they find themselves out of the automated playoff qualification spots as things stand, with this team that is so used to success banking on the wild-card spots to see them through.
This is a tight spot to be in at this stage as at least three other teams in the Western Conference are floating around a similar number of points and could edge the Knights if they are not careful and every point can be make-or-break at this stage.
Flames come off the back of a five-game winning streak ahead of this match and with the knowledge of a 6-0 victory over the Knights in still February fresh in the mind. Meanwhile, the Knights have had patchy form all season and their last 10 matches are another example of this. Six wins in their last 10 is a perfect example of their 60%-win rate across the season, which is not the level their fans are used to seeing them play at.
Predators vs. Oilers
Elsewhere in the Western Conference, the Predators and Oilers will be in a non-divisional match-up this Friday in a game where a win is crucial for both.
Currently, the Oilers are sitting second in the Pacific Division trailing the Calgary Flames, but a mere two points separate them from the Knights and wild-card contention. Although they should feel relatively confident.
While they are on the back of recent losses against Avalanche and Wild, they have only otherwise lost once in their last 10 games, with that other loss being against the Flames. This means they have only lost to the three top teams in their conference in the last 10 and have swept aside all other opponents. As long as they don’t drop points against lesser rivals they should be able to maintain a playoff spot.
If they can bounce back from these back-to-back losses and regain their momentum, they could easily pass the Predators. Particularly when you consider their opponents form – who have also lost two of their last three.
While the Predators are still in the running for automatic progression into the playoffs, they sit just one point ahead of the Dallas Stars and seven behind Wild and Blues, so they are cutting it fine. To ensure that they don’t miss out on a wild-card spot, they will need to prove they deserve it by getting their form back on track.
Panthers vs. Jets
Of all the Canadian NHL teams still in the running for the Playoffs, it is the Winnipeg Jets looking the most precarious. They sit more than 10 points away from the top three places and have played more games than anyone else in the Central Division.
They are almost certainly going to have to rely on the prospect of the wild-card places, so points are crucial here. This is particularly true as their number of points, in regard to other teams in the Western Conference would not qualify them either.
It is unfortunate they are pitted against the NHL Champion outright favorite and leader of the Atlantic Division, the Florida Panthers. You might think that as the Panthers are already qualified, they will have taken their foot off the pedal. However, this is not the case and they are currently in the midst of an eight-game winning streak, while Winnipeg has lost four of their last seven.
With this considered, it is no surprise the Panthers are the favorite here to put Winnipeg further under the cosh and out of contention.