The 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs are fast approaching and we’re seeing more teams clinch spots day after day. Soon enough we’ll have the full field of teams for the 2023 postseason, but we may not know the matchups until the final few days of the regular season. Below we’ll be updating each day with the latest NHL playoff matchups for the Eastern and Western Conference brackets. First, let’s go over what we know so far.
The Boston Bruins have already clinched the No. 1 overall seed and Presidents’ Trophy. Boston tied a franchise record with 121 points with seven games remaining in the season. If the Bruins win six of seven, they’d set the NHL record for most points in a season, held by the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens (132). The Bruins have nothing to play for so you’d think setting the NHL record isn’t top on the agenda. Being healthy for the playoffs is critical. Boston has done this before; winning the Presidents’ Trophy and falling short of the Stanley Cup.
Along with the Bruins, the Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers have all clinched berths. The Tampa Bay Lightning will do so shortly. There should be plenty of movement in the seeding among the Wild Card teams in the East. The New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins and Florida Panthers are fighting for two spots.
Eastern Conference bracket
No. 1 ATL — Boston Bruins
WC2 MET — New York Islanders
No. 2 ATL — Toronto Maple Leafs
No. 3 ATL — Tampa Bay Lightning
No. 1 MET — Carolina Hurricanes
WC1 MET — Florida Panthers
No. 2 MET — New Jersey Devils
No. 3 MET — New York Rangers
Note: Bracket is updated as of April 4.
Update — The Penguins lost to the Devils on Tuesday night and are on the outside of the WC picture at the moment. Pittsburgh will have an easy schedule the last four games, so there’s still hope of getting in. But at this point, the Pens need help from the Panthers and/or Islanders. It also appears unlikely the Leafs let go of home ice to the Bolts, up six points with five games remaining.
Update — After it looked like some of the matchups were set, things are a bit unclear now. Home ice is up for grabs with the Bolts and Leafs. Tampa Bay is only four points off Toronto and the two teams face each other before the end of the season. The Leafs have a game in hand.
The Hurricanes, Devils and Rangers are all subsequently separated by three points. Carolina has an easy schedule and a game in hand, so are still expected to be first in the Metro. Similarly, home ice is up in the air for the Devils-Rangers potential first-round series.
The West bracket is as close as humanly possible with a week and change left in the regular season. As of Saturday, the Vegas Golden Knights are the only team to clinch a berth. The Minnesota Wild, Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings are next. The Wild card race is tight between the Seattle Kraken, Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames. Two of those teams will get in. We shouldn’t see much change in the top-3 teams in each division in the West. Seeding is what will be altered in the remaining games. Let’s look at the West bracket.
Western Conference bracket
No. 1 PAC — Vegas Golden Knights
WC2 CEN — Winnipeg Jets
No. 2 PAC — Edmonton Oilers
No. 3 PAC — Los Angeles Kings
No. 1 CEN — Colorado Avalanche
WC1 PAC — Seattle Kraken
No. 2 CEN — Dallas Stars
No. 3 CEN — Minnesota Wild
Note: Bracket is updated as of April 4.
Update — It’s going to be an every-night occurrence of teams moving up and down within the West standings. The Oilers jumped L.A. and the Avs, Stars and Wild are all tied at 98 points. The Avs have a game in hand and therefore have first place. Colorado still has the best shot of claiming the top seed in the Central. The Golden Knights, however, have a good cushion to take the top seed in the West.
Update — The top-6 teams in the West are separated by five points in the standings in both the Central and Pacific. The standings have never been this tight at the end of the regular season. So right now, these matchups above mean next to nothing because things can drastically change over the course of a few days. We should have the field set soon at least.
The Wild and Avs are separated by three points in the Central while the Golden Knights and Kings are also separated by three in the Pacific. So the last bit of schedule is going to be super important with each night having playoff seeding implications. It’s unclear how seriously teams will take seeding once berths are clinched. Most teams don’t worry about opponent or home-ice advantage all that much.