NHL Western Conference playoff race: Tiers and probabilities for the contenders

The All-Star break is over, and now it’s time for the stretch drive. From here on out, the stakes get higher every day as teams amp up for the final push into the playoffs.

In the Western Conference, most of the race is already tied up into a tidy little bow. Six teams are almost locks to get in and one other has a very high chance. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be a very interesting race down the stretch for that final spot. It’s wide open, with six teams chasing it. That’ll make for an exciting final 30 games or so.

We update each team’s odds daily, but sometimes it’s wise to dig a little deeper and check in on why each team lands where it does. The All-Star break serves as the perfect time for that.

I’ve separated the league into seven tiers based on the following probability ranges:

Basically in: Above 95 percent
Safe shots: 85 to 95 percent
Likely bets: 70 to 85 percent
The bubble: 30 to 70 percent
Unlikely bets: 15 to 30 percent
Long shots: 5 to 15 percent
Basically out: Below 5 percent

Here’s how each team in the West stacks up. You can find the Eastern Conference here.

Basically in

Vancouver Canucks: 99 percent

Winnipeg Jets: 99 percent

Colorado Avalanche: 99 percent

Dallas Stars: 99 percent

Edmonton Oilers: 99 percent

Vegas Golden Knights: 98 percent

This part of the Western Conference playoff race? Super boring. All six teams should clear 100 points with ease, with everyone above Vegas expected to land at 108 or more. Considering how up for grabs the final playoff spot is with no team making a serious claim for it, these spots couldn’t be safer. The current favorite for the final spot is projected to hit 90 points in the West. 

Safe shots

Los Angeles Kings: 88 percent

The Kings have fallen off tremendously after a torrid start. After starting the season 20-7-4, they’ve gone 3-8-6 since, going from potential Pacific Division winner to likely wild-card contender.

The key is where they are now, even after the horrific slide: still a playoff team. The Kings may be only two points up on the ninth-place Predators, but games in hand obfuscate just how wide the chasm is. The Kings are on pace for 96 points, while the Predators are at 87 (last week’s regulation win certainly helped here). 

That’s huge, and it’s why the Kings’ chances are pretty safe. It’s not just the current lead, it’s also the faith we should still have in the Kings relative to every team chasing them. They’re a deep team that can tilt the ice heavily in their favor, and that goes a long way toward racking up wins.

They may not be as good as their start, but they’re also not as bad as their current slide, either. Sometimes wild streaks like that happen, but they’ll get to where they need to be at the end — 96 points is right around where they were projected to land at the start of the season.

Likely bets

No teams.

The bubble

Nashville Predators: 35 percent

There aren’t a lot of strong horses to bet on for the West’s…

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Read More: NHL Western Conference playoff race: Tiers and probabilities for the contenders 2024-02-05 22:06:18

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