Stanley Cup playoff clinching scenarios for the final games of the NHL season

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are almost here. With just a few games left in the NHL season, here are the clinching scenarios.
Washington Capitals v Pittsburgh Penguins
Washington Capitals v Pittsburgh Penguins / Pamela Smith/GettyImages

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are just a few short days away. By the time next week comes around teams will already have played a few games in their first round series, or have just started their long summer waiting for the start of next season.

There is still one spot in the playoffs up for grabs in the Eastern Conference with the wild card race. Let's dive in with who still has a chance to play in the postseason.

Stanley Cup Playoffs: The four teams still competing for the final wild card spot in the east.

The Washington Capitals (89 points), Detroit Red Wings (89 points), Pittsburgh Penguins (88 points) and Philadelphia Flyers (87 points) are the four teams still in the race for the final Wild Card spot. Currently the Capitals sit in the final spot in the east, despite being tied with the Red Wings in points, they hold the tiebreaker of regulation wins.

The Capitals can clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Flyers tonight at 7 p.m. ET. They are the only team that can control their own destiny with a win.

If the Capitals lose in any fashion tonight to the Flyers the Red Wings would need to win over the Montreal Canadiens tonight also at 7 p.m. ET to clinch a playoff spot.

Those are the two straightforward scenarios that can happen. Either the Capitals win and are in, or the Red Wings win and the Capitals lose and they are in. After that, things get more interesting.

The Penguins can clinch a playoff spot if they win their final game of the season and the Capitals and Red Wings both lose.

If the Capitals, Red Wings and Penguins finish the season tied with either 89 or 90 points, then the Penguins would make the playoffs because they win the regulation tiebreaker. In this scenario the Penguins need to win their game on Wednesday against the New York Islanders while the Capitals and Red Wings both lose in overtime to get tied at 90 points, or the Penguins can lose in overtime and the Red Wings and Capitals both lose putting the teams tied at 89 points.

The Flyers can also somehow still make the playoffs. If the Flyers win their final game of the season against the Capitals and the Red Wings/Penguins both lose, the Flyers would make the postseason.

Whoever does end up securing the final spot in the east will be destined for a matchup with the Presidents' Trophy winners, the New York Rangers.

Other matchups still up for grabs are the Bruins (109 points) and Panthers (108 points) still competing for the top spot in the Atlantic and the Jets (106 points) and Avalanche (105 points) competing for home ice in the opening round.

The Vancouver Canucks can clinch the top spot in the Pacific Division with a win in either of their final two games.