Game 82: Four Teams Still Up For One Playoff Spot

Here’s how all four teams can still get in.

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The NHL Playoffs don’t start until Saturday, but for four teams, the postseason might as well start tonight. Fifteen of the league’s sixteen playoff spots are locked in and one remains. Not two, not three, but FOUR teams in the Eastern Conference are still fighting for that spot as Game 82 looms. For the Capitals, the road to the playoffs is easy – win tonight and you’re in. For the Red Wings, Penguins and Flyers, things are a little more complicated. Today, we’re breaking it down.

Game 82 for Each Team





The Scenarios


RED WINGS – Win / Capitals lose

PENGUINS – Win / Capitals and Red Wings lose

FLYERS – Win in regulation / Red Wings and Penguins lose in regulation


At this point, Washington has the advantage. They do need to play against a Flyers team that’ll be just as desperate to win, but the Caps are the better team in this matchup and don’t need to scoreboard watch at all. Heading into Game 82, Washington and Philadelphia have both been mediocre, but the Capitals’ big win against Boston on Monday was a true testament to this team’s veteran leadership. Although they’re facing games on back-to-back nights, I have no doubt that Alex Ovechkin will have his team ready to face off against the Flyers, who unlike the Capitals, don’t have much experience in this position at all. 

If the Flyers can take the Capitals down in regulation, the spot stays open to all four teams. It may not be open for long, though, as Detroit would have a chance to clinch in their game happening at the same time in Montreal. The Red Wings were fantastic in Monday night’s comeback win against the Habs, and the excitement in the building proved just how great it is for the NHL to have Detroit excited about hockey again. The Wings have a bright future ahead, but it certainly would help with the development of their young players if they could make it to the postseason this year. 

Could it Still Matter Tomorrow?

Now, if somehow both the Caps and Wings lose tonight, the Penguins get their shot in New York tomorrow. With a record of 7-1-2 in their last ten, the veteran players on Pittsburgh have willed this team back into the conversation, but it still might not be enough. Who knows where they’d be if they hadn’t traded Jake Guentzel at the deadline. 

Finally, if Pittsburgh and Detroit both also lose in regulation, the Flyers would get their shot in the postseason. As improbable as it is, this whole season has been an improbable one in Philadelphia. It’s certainly been a disappointing end to the campaign, but John Tortorella has a legitimate argument for the Jack Adams regardless of if this team makes it into playoffs. With a less than stellar NHL lineup and challenging times within the organization, the year has still been a surprising success for the Flyers on the ice. 

So, there you have it. Game 82 still means everything for the NHL’s last four bubble teams. Will the Capitals make it look easy tonight? Or will the chaos ensue into tomorrow? We can’t wait to find out. After the games, make sure to sign up for our FREE NHL Playoff Pool or create your own at!

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