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NHL On Tap for tonight

Updated: Apr 17

An image of the NHL's teams taken from 2019-20 with the NHL shield in the middle.

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There are 13 games going on tonight, with only 6 teams left out tonight. However, everyone has something to be won or lost tonight, so for each game tonight and for each team, we will take a look at what is at stake.

Boston vs. Carolina: The Hurricanes are playing a potential Conference Final opponent tonight with Boston, and the Bruins have a chance to clinch the Atlantic Division tonight. Though it isn't necessarily a reward to play the Lightning in the First Round, a game like this should help them prove to their doubters that they can still beat top-flight teams like Carolina. The Hurricanes also have a vested interest in keeping their chances at a President's Trophy alive, and for matters of personal pride, a 4th straight division title never hurts.

Washington vs. Detroit: This is a chance for Ovechkin to have one last hurrah, as the Capitals are getting worse by the year to the point that a rebuild will be called for soon. The Detroit Red Wings should have a vested interest in getting to the playoffs, as ownership might be losing patience with how long the rebuild is taking and it could cost Steve Yzerman his job. They haven't been in the playoffs since 2016, when Tampa Bay bounced them in 5 games, so there is no tomorrow in Motown anymore.

Ottawa vs. Florida: Though the Senators are out of the playoff race now, that doesn't matter, because it's a good opportunity to continue to develop Ridly Greig, who has been one of the few bright spots on what has been a nightmare of a season for Ottawa. Florida, meanwhile, has to maintain their chances at home ice advantage, because after a recent slide, the Leafs have been catching up.

Philadelphia vs. Montreal: The Flyers have to shake off John Tortorella's criticisms of their play lately, and after playing themselves out of the playoff spot they held down for so long, this could be a confidence boost to get them going for that last spot. Montreal wants to prove that the rebuild is working, and Juraj Slafkovsky has a 20 goal season to aim for.

Toronto vs. New Jersey: The Maple Leafs not only have to worry about the Tampa Bay Lightning crawling up the standings, but they have a chance to overtake Florida for 2nd in the Atlantic that wasn't there two months ago. New Jersey may just want to win this game to save face for what has been a very embarrassing season for them.

NY Rangers vs. NY Islanders: The Rangers should want to win the President's Trophy for no other reason than to stick it to Carolina, knowing they won't likely come out of the Second Round. The Islanders should be aiming to prove to the Rangers that they won't be an easy opponent should they face each other in the First Round, and they are not the same team that depended on the loser point to stay alive.

Columbus vs. Tampa Bay: Pascal Vincent should be looking to get the best out of his players, many of whom are inexperienced and need to learn how to compete amongst the best. Tampa Bay has a chance to inch within 4 points of 3rd place, provided that the Leafs lose in regulation, and should Florida stay in 2nd, an opportunity to show that Florida is still theirs would go a long way towards facilitating a Conference Final against the Hurricanes.

Buffalo vs. Dallas: Buffalo should be aiming to retain whatever fans they still have, because they have once again played their way out of everyone's lofty expectations. Dallas has an opportunity to clinch the Central Division, and if not, they could clinch home-ice advantage, and that will be important for a Second Round that will likely see them face Colorado.

Winnipeg vs. Nashville: This is the most important game for Winnipeg all year, as they should look to avoid Nashville giving them a run for 3rd. Nashville has a chance to clinch a playoff spot tonight, and a win against Winnipeg would have them taken seriously heading into Round 1.

Minnesota vs. Colorado: As slim as Minnesota's playoff hopes are, they still aren't yet at 0, and they should aim to keep that chance alive, for no other reason than to prove that they have a good thing going with their nucleus of talent that feature Kirill Kaprizov and Brock Faber. The Avalanche should aim to end their recent skid, and fix the goaltending problem that has been Alexandar Georgiev. They also need to use this game to help them figure out whether to start Georgiev or Justus Annunen, who has been great since being called up from the Eagles.

LA vs. Anaheim: LA has a spot to secure in the playoffs tonight, and they should have a vested interest in staying in 3rd, because of their familiarity with Edmonton. After coming close to beating the Oilers the last 2 seasons, they might break through this time. Anaheim just has to give the rookies in Olen Zellweger and Leo Carlsson as much ice time as possible, because for teams long out of the playoff hunt, this is the best possible audition for their younger stars.

Arizona vs. Seattle: Both of these teams are out of the playoffs, so there isn't really anything to play for but pride.

Calgary vs. San Jose: The Flames have to prove to Craig Conroy that they are a team worth tearing down to rebuild. The Sharks may likely try to tank to improve their odds at the 1st overall pick, even though this draft class lacks the depth of last year's.

Pittsburgh: They just need to hope that the Detroit vs. Washington game stays in regulation, because one of these teams picking up an extra point could be detrimental to their playoff hopes.

Vancouver: The Canucks are hoping for Nashville to lose, especially down the stretch, given that that is their likeliest opponent.

Edmonton: The Oilers are hoping the Kings don't gain ground on their 2nd place spot.

Vegas: They're hoping Minnesota will lose to Colorado and be eliminated from contention tonight.

St. Louis: They're hoping for Nashville to lose, because their playoff hopes are hanging by a thread.

Chicago: They have nothing to gain tonight, because due to suspicions of a rigged draft lottery, they will likely win no matter what, unless Vegas misses the playoffs, and then they will likely lose the lottery to them no matter the lottery rules.

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