The NHL playoffs start in April, and teams are already starting to separate themselves in the standings with the postseason approaching.
Some teams have played well enough to essentially guarantee they will be in the playoffs, including the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks, but others are still fighting for position. The wild card standings have the Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Colorado Avalanche and the Nashville Predators currently leading, but other teams are nipping at their heels.
Each conference has two wild card teams that make the playoffs along with the top three teams in each of the four divisions across the league. Here is a look at the current standings and some predictions on who will make it into the postseason this year:
The current Eastern Conference standings have the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins in playoff position from the Atlantic Division. The Metropolitan Division has the Washington Capitals leading the New York Rangers and New York Islanders by a wide margin, as they have 90 points on the season to lead the entire league.
The Red Wings are currently the first wild card team in the East with 69 points, while the Pittsburgh Penguins are in second place with 68 points. There are a number of teams in contention for the wild card, as the New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers are all within five points of the second spot.
The current Western Conference standings have the Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues leading the Central Division in a tight race. The Blackhawks are leading the Stars by one point, while the Blues are just two points back of the lead. The Pacific division has the Los Angeles Kings on top, while the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks are in playoff position.
The West wild card race has the Colorado Avalanche and Nashville Predators leading the standings, with the Avs on top by one point. The Minnesota Wild are three points back of the second spot, while the Arizona Coyotes remain in contention art five points back. The Vancouver Canucks are on the margins, as they are nine points back of the second spot.
Eastern Conference: Capitals, Panthers, Rangers, Lightning, Bruins, Islanders, Penguins, Devils
Western Conference: Blackhawks, Stars, Blues, Kings, Ducks, Sharks, Avalanche, Wild
The playoffs are scheduled to begin on Wednesday, April 13, 2016.