With 20 days left in the NHL’s regular season schedule, there figures to be a compelling race to the Stanley Cup Playoffs within the North Division. In the 2020-21 season, the top four teams in each division qualify for the playoffs, and there should be a battle for the fourth spot in the seven-team, all Canadian division as we come down the stretch of the regular season, though there is one clear favorite.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have been atop the division just about the entire season and are pulling away from the pack with four consecutive victories for a total of 69 points as they have already clinched a playoff berth. Behind them is the Edmonton Oilers, who are in second place with 60 points and should feel comfortable in their postseason status. The Winnipeg Jets are in a free fall right now with five consecutive losses, but they check in with 57 points and are expected to be a playoff team with 10 more points than the fifth place team.
Behind the top three, there is a battle for the fourth spot to advance to the postseason with some teams having a better chance than others. Below is a look at the contenders to crack the top four as they look to make a run with less than three weeks left in the regular season. All odds are via a popular United States sportsbook.
Odds to Make the Playoffs
The Montreal Canadiens are the favorites among the rest of North Division teams, and the betting odds suggest there is a significant chance they will find themselves in postseason play. According to oddsmakers, the Canadiens have -750 odds to make the playoffs with +500 odds for them to fail to be a postseason team. Through 48 games, Montreal has 51 points for fourth place and is four points ahead of the rest of the group.
The Calgary Flames are in fifth place with 47 points in 49 games, and they have the next best odds with +550 to find their way into the playoffs, and they are at -800 to end their season early.
It would be a sizeable upset for Calgary to crack the top four, but they have a better chance than the Vancouver Canucks. Vancouver is regrouping from a major COVID-19 outbreak within the organization, and it has a lot of work to do to climb all the way back up the standings. With just 44 games played, the Canucks are scheduled to play 12 times in 19 days in May. They are in last place in the division standings with 41 points, and it would take an incredible effort for them to make their way into the fourth spot. Oddsmakers show Vancouver to have +1300 odds to advance to the postseason with -2500 odds to fall short.
The only team outside of the top three that is off the board is the Ottawa Senators, who are in sixth place in the division with 41 points through 50 games played.
Updated Playoff Info
The regular season schedule was extended to end on May 19 to give the Canucks more time to make up postponed games, though when the Stanley Cup Playoffs will actually start is still unclear even though it’s just a few weeks away. According to The Athletic, there is a possibility the North Division playoff games may start before the regular season ends if the Canucks and Flames are not in playoff contention as they play each other three games in a row to close out the regular season.
According to the report, it’s possible the playoff games in the United States could begin on May 15 regardless of the happenings in the North Division. The NHL would like to conclude the playoffs as soon as possible due to the Tokyo Olympics. Opening ceremonies are currently scheduled to occur on July 23.