NEW YORK — There are 26 days left in the NHL regular season, and only one team - the Boston Bruins - has officially clinched a spot in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
As a refresher, the top three teams in each of the four divisions plus the next two highest-place finishers in each conference advance to the postseason.
Here's a look at the playoff picture in each conference.
Apart from the Bruins, there are five teams that are virtual locks: Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, and Tampa Bay Lightning.
What does remain in the balance is first place in the Metropolitan Division and the right to face off against the first wild card team in the opening round of the playoffs. And that's important because there's a 12 point gap between the third place Rangers and the New York Islanders, who currently hold the WC1 spot.
That spot is far from guaranteed for the team from Brooklyn, however.
The Islanders have a slim edge in points over the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Florida Panthers, and with two games fewer remaining on their schedule.
As Locked on Panthers host Armando Velez said Monday, teams should be scored of the 2022 Presidents' Trophy winning Panthers should they manage to sneak into the postseason.
Below Florida, time is running out for other playoff hopefuls, with the Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings all coming off weekend losses.
Things are a bit more interesting out West, where a couple teams remain within striking distance of a wild card spot.
First, there's a battle for the top seed taking place between the Vegas Golden Knights and Los Angeles Kings, with both teams looking to avoid a first round match with Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers.
Vegas' odds of winning the Pacific were boosted by a Jack Eichel hat trick in a win on Sunday.
Similarly, the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild are hoping to skip an opening round meeting with the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche in the Central Division.
The wild card spots are currently occupied by the Seattle Kraken and Winnipeg Jets, but the door remains open for a couple teams: Calgary Flames and Nashville Predators.
The latter, however, lost to Winnipeg on Saturday before a 7-0 beatdown by the Rangers on Sunday, and an injury to Roman Josi doesn't help their chances either.
The Flames have a game in hand on the Jets, which could come in handy. Those two clubs will meet on April 5 in what could be a huge turning point for either.
If playoffs started March 20
Here is a look at the matchups for the first round as they stand entering games Monday:
(1A) Boston Bruins vs. (WC2) Pittsburgh Penguins
(2M) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (WC1) New York Islanders
(2A) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (3A) Tampa Bay Lightning
(2M) New Jersey Devils vs. (3M) New York Rangers
(1P) Vegas Golden Knights vs. (WC2) Winnipeg Jets
(1C) Dallas Stars vs. (WC1) Seattle Kraken
(2C) Minnesota Wild vs. (3C) Colorado Avalanche
(2P) Los Angeles Kings vs. (3P) Edmonton Oilers