2019 NHL playoff picture: Latest standings, Stanley Cup contenders, format, schedule, start date

As the NHL regular season heads down the home stretch, it's time to focus our eyes on the postseason and the implications that every remaining game has on the Stanley Cup Playoffs. While far from set in stone, the playoff picture is coming into focus more with each passing day, so here's where we'll keep tabs on what postseason matchups are looking likely, as well as which teams are set for early summer vacations.

Format

The Stanley Cup playoffs feature 16 total teams, with eight qualifiers from each of the league's two conferences. The top three teams from each division automatically qualify, plus two wild cards from each conference. The playoffs feature three rounds of conference play before the Stanley Cup Final, with every series from start-to-finish being a best of seven. As such, the eventual Stanley Cup champion will need to win 16 total postseason games in order to hoist the Cup.

When do the playoffs start?

The NHL regular season will end on April 6 and the playoffs typically begin a few days later. An official schedule has not been released yet, but the playoffs tend to run from early-to-mid April until mid-to-late June. 

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Eastern Conference standings

1
73 GP, 116 PTS
2
73 GP, 97 PTS
3
73 GP, 93 PTS
4
73 GP, 91 PTS
5
73 GP, 91 PTS
6
74 GP, 89 PTS
7
72 GP, 87 PTS
8
73 GP, 84 PTS
9
73 GP, 83 PTS
10
73 GP, 78 PTS
11
73 GP, 76 PTS
12
72 GP, 71 PTS
13
73 GP, 69 PTS
14
74 GP, 63 PTS
15
73 GP, 62 PTS
16
72 GP, 56 PTS

Western Conference standings

1
73 GP, 97 PTS
2
73 GP, 94 PTS
3
72 GP, 90 PTS
4
74 GP, 89 PTS
5
73 GP, 87 PTS
6
73 GP, 84 PTS
7
73 GP, 82 PTS
8
73 GP, 78 PTS
9
74 GP, 77 PTS
10
73 GP, 76 PTS
11
72 GP, 74 PTS
12
73 GP, 72 PTS
13
73 GP, 71 PTS
14
74 GP, 69 PTS
15
72 GP, 58 PTS

Eastern Conference playoff seeding

(p = clinched Presidents' trophy, y = clinched division, x = clinched playoff berth)

Atlantic Division

  1. p-Tampa Bay Lightning
  2. Boston Bruins 
  3. Toronto Maple Leafs 

Metropolitan Division

  1. Washington Capitals
  2. New York Islanders
  3. Pittsburgh Penguins

Eastern Conference Wild Cards

  1. Carolina Hurricanes
  2. Columbus Blue Jackets

Western Conference playoff seeding

Central Division

  1. Winnipeg Jets
  2. Nashville Predators
  3. St. Louis Blues

Pacific Division

  1. x-Calgary Flames
  2. x-San Jose Sharks
  3. Vegas Golden Knights

Western Conference Wild Cards

  1. Dallas Stars
  2. Arizona Coyotes

Current playoff matchups

Eastern Conference

Tampa Bay Lightning (Atlantic 1) vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (WC 2)
Boston Bruins (Atlantic 2) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (Atlantic 3)
Washington Capitals (Metro 1) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (WC 1)
New York Islanders (Metro 2) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (Metro 3)

Western Conference

Winnipeg Jets (Central 1) vs. Dallas Stars (WC 1)
Nashville Predators (Central 2) vs. St. Louis Blues (Central 3)
Calgary Flames (Pacific 1) vs. Arizona Coyotes (WC 2)
San Jose Sharks (Pacific 2) vs. Vegas Golden Knights (Pacific 3)

On the bubble

Eastern Conference

Montreal Canadiens (1 point out of a playoff spot)

Philadelphia Flyers (6 points out)

Western Conference

Minnesota Wild (1 point out)

Colorado Avalanche (2 points out)

Chicago Blackhawks (4 points out)

Pete Blackburn is from Boston, so there's a good chance you don't like him already. He has been a writer at CBS Sports since 2017 and usually aims to take a humorous and light-hearted approach to the often... Full Bio

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