NHL Playoff Watch Daily: Who will win the West’s fourth spot?

    Tim Kavanagh is a senior NHL editor for ESPN. He’s a native of upstate New York.

One of many unique aspects of the 2021 NHL season is that teams are playing all of their regular season games against division opponents — and those divisions were realigned for this season as well. They will continue this intradivisional format through the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs. In other words, these teams are quite familiar with one another.

In the West Division, three teams have distanced themselves from the pack a bit: the Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights and Minnesota Wild all have a 99.1% chance or better of going to the playoffs, per Money Puck.

And then there’s the No. 4 spot.

After a strong start, the St. Louis Blues — Cup champions in 2019 — have left the door open for the Arizona Coyotes and the San Jose Sharks. And hey, even the Los Angeles Kings still have an 8.5% chance of getting into the postseason bracket.

All eight West Division teams will be in action Wednesday, starting with the Coyotes-Wild game at 2 p.m. ET, and all the way through Sharks-Ducks at 10:30 p.m. ET streaming on ESPN+.

As we enter the final stretch of the regular season, it’s time to check in on all the playoff races — along with the teams jockeying for position in the 2021 NHL draft lottery.

Note: Playoff chances are via Money Puck. Tragic numbers are courtesy of Damian Echevarrieta of the NHL.

East Division

Washington Capitals

Points: 60
Regulation wins: 23
Playoff position: E1
Games left: 13
Next game: vs. BUF (Apr. 15)
Playoff chances: 99.4%
Tragic number: N/A

New York Islanders

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: E2
Games left: 14
Next game: @ BOS (Apr. 15)
Playoff chances: 98.7%
Tragic number: N/A

Pittsburgh Penguins

Points: 56
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: E3
Games left: 14
Next game: vs. PHI (Apr. 15)
Playoff chances: 98.3%
Tragic number: N/A

Boston Bruins

Points: 50
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: E4
Games left: 16
Next game: vs. NYI (Apr. 15)
Playoff chances: 77.6%
Tragic number: N/A

New York Rangers

Points: 46
Regulation wins: 17
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Next game: vs. NJ (Apr. 15)
Playoff chances: 19.6%
Tragic number: 25

Philadelphia Flyers

Points: 44
Regulation wins: 13
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Next game: @ PIT (Apr. 15)
Playoff chances: 6.5%
Tragic number: 22

New Jersey Devils

Points: 34
Regulation wins: 11
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 15
Next game: @ NYR (Apr. 15)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: 14

Buffalo Sabres

Points: 27
Regulation wins: 7
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Next game: @ WSH (Apr. 15)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: 5

Central Division

Carolina Hurricanes

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: C1
Games left: 15
Next game: vs. NSH (Apr. 15)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Tampa Bay Lightning

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 24
Playoff position: C2
Games left: 14
Next game: vs. FLA (Apr. 15)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Florida Panthers

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: C3
Games left: 13
Next game: @ TB (Apr. 15)
Playoff chances: 99.6%
Tragic number: N/A

Nashville Predators

Points: 49
Regulation wins: 16
Playoff position: C4
Games left: 12
Next game: @ CAR (Apr. 15)
Playoff chances: 61.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Chicago Blackhawks

Points: 45
Regulation wins: 13
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 13
Next game: @ DET (Apr. 15)
Playoff chances: 9.3%
Tragic number: 22

Dallas Stars

Points: 42
Regulation wins: 13
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 15
Next game: vs. CBJ (Apr. 15)
Playoff chances: 29.3%
Tragic number: 23

Columbus Blue Jackets

Points: 39
Regulation wins: 11
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 12
Next game: @ DAL (Apr. 15)
Playoff chances: 0.1%
Tragic number: 14

Detroit Red Wings

Points: 36
Regulation wins: 13
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 12
Next game: vs. CHI (Apr. 15)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: 11

North Division

Toronto Maple Leafs

Points: 60
Regulation wins: 22
Playoff position: N1
Games left: 13
Next game: vs. WPG (Apr. 15)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Winnipeg Jets

Points: 53
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: N2
Games left: 14
Next game: @ OTT (Apr. 14)
Playoff chances: 99.5%
Tragic number: N/A

Edmonton Oilers

Points: 52
Regulation wins: 23
Playoff position: N3
Games left: 14
Next game: @ VAN (Apr. 16)
Playoff chances: 96.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Montreal Canadiens

Points: 45
Regulation wins: 16
Playoff position: N4
Games left: 17
Next game: vs. CGY (Apr. 14)
Playoff chances: 92.4%
Tragic number: N/A

Calgary Flames

Points: 39
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 14
Next game: @ MTL (Apr. 14)
Playoff chances: 8.5%
Tragic number: 22

Vancouver Canucks

Points: 35
Regulation wins: 11
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 19
Next game: vs. EDM (Apr. 16)
Playoff chances: 2.7%
Tragic number: 28

Ottawa Senators

Points: 32
Regulation wins: 10
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 13
Next game: vs. WPG (Apr. 14)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: 13

West Division

Colorado Avalanche

Points: 62
Regulation wins: 26
Playoff position: W1
Games left: 14
Next game: @ STL (Apr. 14)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Vegas Golden Knights

Points: 58
Regulation wins: 22
Playoff position: W2
Games left: 15
Next game: @ LA (Apr. 14)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Minnesota Wild

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 19
Playoff position: W3
Games left: 16
Next game: vs. ARI (Apr. 14)
Playoff chances: 99.1%
Tragic number: N/A

St. Louis Blues

Points: 44
Regulation wins: 13
Playoff position: W4
Games left: 15
Next game: vs. COL (Apr. 14)
Playoff chances: 42.5%
Tragic number: N/A

Arizona Coyotes

Points: 43
Regulation wins: 15
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 13
Next game: @ MIN (Apr. 14)
Playoff chances: 33.3%
Tragic number: 26

San Jose Sharks

Points: 40
Regulation wins: 12
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 15
Next game: vs. ANA (Apr. 14)
Playoff chances: 16.7%
Tragic number: 26

Los Angeles Kings

Points: 38
Regulation wins: 14
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 15
Next game: vs. VGK (Apr. 14)
Playoff chances: 8.5%
Tragic number: 25

Anaheim Ducks

Points: 33
Regulation wins: 8
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 13
Next game: @ SJ (Apr. 14)
Playoff chances: 0.1%
Tragic number: 15

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. New for 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.

1. Buffalo Sabres

Points: 27
Regulation wins: 7

2. Ottawa Senators

Points: 32
Regulation wins: 10

3. Anaheim Ducks

Points: 33
Regulation wins: 8

4. New Jersey Devils

Points: 34
Regulation wins: 11

5. Vancouver Canucks

Points: 35
Regulation wins: 11

6. Detroit Red Wings

Points: 36
Regulation wins: 13

7. Los Angeles Kings

Points: 38
Regulation wins: 14

8. Columbus Blue Jackets

Points: 39
Regulation wins: 11

9. Calgary Flames

Points: 39
Regulation wins: 15

10. San Jose Sharks

Points: 40
Regulation wins: 12

11. Dallas Stars

Points: 42
Regulation wins: 13

12. Arizona Coyotes

Points: 43
Regulation wins: 15

13. Philadelphia Flyers

Points: 44
Regulation wins: 13

14. Chicago Blackhawks

Points: 45
Regulation wins: 13

15. New York Rangers

Points: 46
Regulation wins: 17

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