Which NHL Teams Make the 2020 Playoffs If the Regular Season Is Over?

The Washington Capitals in warmups at Verizon Center
The NHL has paused its season due to the coronavirus. Which teams would make the playoffs if the regular season is declared over? Photo by Gary McCabe (Wikimedia).
  • The NHL season has been paused due to the coronavirus
  • There are 189 regular-season NHL games remaining
  • Which NHL teams would make the playoffs if the season ended today?

The NHL has put its season on hold due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It’s unclear when or if the NHL will be able to resume play this year, but the league is stating that they would like to find a way to hand out the Stanley Cup in 2020.

If the NHL is able to resume play, there are rumors that the league could use current point percentage to determine the final standings for a potential playoff. The Boston Bruins had the best 2020 Stanley Cup odds at the time of the pause.

2020 Stanley Cup Odds

Team Odds
Boston Bruins +400
Tampa Bay Lightning +600
Colorado Avalanche +700
St. Louis Blues +750
Vegas Golden Knights +850
Washington Capitals +1200
Philadelphia Flyers +1200
Dallas Stars +2000
Edmonton Oilers +2000
Toronto Maple Leafs +2200
Carolina Hurricanes +2800
Nashville Predators +3500
Vancouver Canucks +3500

Odds taken March 12, 2020. 

NHL Pauses Season

The NHL has officially paused its season due to ongoing developments resulting from the coronavirus. The league is following in the footsteps of the NBA, which suspended its season on Wednesday after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus.

The NHL seems hopeful that the season could resume at some point this year. The MLB, NBA and other major sports leagues used the term “suspended” when making their hiatus statements, while the NHL seemed to go out of their way to use the term “pause”.

Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman is also reporting that the NHL still wants to award the Stanley Cup this year and will do everything in their power to do something. They are even considering implementing a unique playoff format due to this unprecedented scenario.

If The Season Is Over Now

It’s unclear how the NHL would proceed if they are able to resume playing at some point this season. Considering teams have played a different amount of games, the most fair scenario may be getting each team to play a certain amount of regular-season games (eg.72) and then going straight into a playoff.

While playing more regular-season games is ideal, the reality is that it may not be possible. If the NHL is able to resume play this year, they may only have time for some sort of playoff. This is what the current playoff picture looks like today based on point percentage.

Atlantic Division Playoff Standings

Seed Team Record Points Point Percentage
1 Boston Bruins 44-14-12 100 .714
2 Tampa Bay Lightning 43-21-6 92 .657
3 Toronto Maple Leafs 36-25-9 81 .579

Metropolitan Division Playoff Standings

Seed Team Record Points Point Percentage
1 Washington Capitals 41-20-8 90 .652
2 Philadelphia Flyers 41-21-7 89 .645
3 Pittsburgh Penguins 40-23-6 86 .623

Eastern Conference Wildcard Standings

Seed Team Record Points Point Percentage
1 Carolina Hurricanes 38-25-5 81 .596
2 New York Islanders 35-23-10 80 .588

If the regular season were to be deemed over and the NHL were to use point percentage to determine standings, the Islanders would overtake the Blue Jackets (81 PTS, .579 point percentage) for the final Wildcard spot in the East. The first round would be highlighted by a Battle of Pennsylvania matchup, in addition to Washington and Carolina facing off for a second straight season.

Central Division Playoff Standings

Seed Team Record Points Point Percentage
1 St. Louis Blues 42-19-10 94 .662
2 Colorado Avalanche 42-20-8 92 .657
3 Dallas Stars 37-24-8 82 .594

Pacific Division Playoff Standings

Seed Team Record Points Point Percentage
1 Vegas Golden Knights 39-24-8 86 .606
2 Edmonton Oilers 37-25-9 83 .585
3 Vancouver Canucks 36-27-6 78 .565

Western Conference Wildcard Standings

Seed Team Record Points Point Percentage
1 Nashville Predators 35-26-8 78 .565
2 Calgary Flames 36-27-7 79 .564

The big story in the West if the NHL were to use point percentage to determine the final standings would be Vancouver surpassing Calgary for the third spot in the Pacific Division and the Jets (80 PTS, .563 point percentage) falling completely out of a playoff spot.

Betting Advice

It’s very hard to predict how things will unfold in the NHL given the rate coronavirus is spreading. Even if the league is able to resume play, we don’t know whether the season will resume or go directly into the playoff.

Considering the possibility of just a playoff, you’ll want to place a bet on a talented team that could catch fire at the right time. The Canucks (+3500) offer great longshot value in the West with MVP-calibre goaltender Jacob Markstrom getting time to recover from injury.

In the East, the red-hot Flyers (+1200) had the best Cup chances at MoneyPuck.com prior to the hiatus. If you want to play it safe, the Tampa Bay Lightning (+600) have arguably the most talented roster on paper and would likely have captain Steven Stamkos back from injury for a potential playoff run.

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