The NHL is cruising through the 2021 regular season and the Stanley Cup Playoffs are fast approaching. There have been some stops along the way due to COVID-19, but the league appears on track to get its 2021 playoffs started in late May.
The playoffs were originally scheduled to start May 11th, but postponements have pushed the regular season schedule a week later. The Vancouver Canucks had to shut down the first week of April due to COVID-19, resulting in four postponements. They are currently scheduled to play four games to close the season starting May 15. The current regular season end date is Wednesday, May 19.
The Canucks might be eliminated from the playoff picture by then as we are starting to see clinching and elimination scenarios. The Vegas Golden Knights were the first team to clinch a playoff berth and there will be 16 total playoff teams.
The top four teams in each division will earn a playoff berth. The league realigned for this season due to cross-border travel restrictions imposed by the Canadian government. There is a Canada-only division and for the first two rounds of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, games will be strictly intra-divisional. After the first two rounds are completed, we’ll be left with four teams. The team with the best regular season record will face the team with the worst regular season record, and the other two teams will face each other in the other semifinal series. The winner of those two series will advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
We’ll soon have a full playoff bracket. For now, we’ll update as teams clinch and what the playoff picture looks like.
Clinched wild card berth: Vegas Golden Knights, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, New York Islanders, Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, Nashville Predators, Minnesota Wild, Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues, Montreal Canadiens
Eliminated from playoff contention: New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Anaheim Ducks, Philadelphia Flyers, Ottawa Senators, New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks, Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks
^: clinched playoff berth
^^: clinched division
Current playoff picture (through May 12)
1. Carolina Hurricanes^^: 80 points, 56 games played
2. Florida Panthers^: 79 points, 56 games played
3. Tampa Bay Lightning^: 75 points, 56 games played
4. Nashville Predators^: 64 points, 56 games played