Skip to main content


Powered by:

FanDuel Sponsored Image

Morning Coffee: A crucial night in the Eastern Conference playoff race


It all comes down to this.

One hundred and eighty-eight days after the puck dropped on the NHL season, we’re down to the final four nights to decide the last two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

For the five teams still in contention for those two spots, tonight is the most important night of the season.

The New York Islanders are in pole position to lock up third place in the Metropolitan Division with a win over the New Jersey Devils tonight.

Behind them, the Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings, and the Pittsburgh Penguins are all fighting for a playoff spot in their penultimate games of the season tonight, while the idle Philadelphia Flyers watch on.

Between the Hart Trophy race, Art Ross Trophy race, the lack of a Rocket Richard Trophy race, and the Eastern Conference playoff race, this has been one of the most memorable NHL seasons to date.

Tonight, we turn to one of the final chapters, with five NHL fanbases hoping their respective teams can finish strong and qualify for the postseason.

Also, after going 3-1 with the column picks last week, we’ll begin this week with another FanDuel Best Bet.

This is the Morning Coffee for Monday, April 15, 2024.

The most important night of the NHL season in East playoff race

The Islanders’ playoff hopes seemed to be in big trouble after they lost six straight games in mid-March.

It’s been a much different story for Patrick Roy’s team ever since.

The Isles earned an important point in a 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday to improve to 8-2-1 in their previous 11 games dating back to March 23.

At the time, Mathew Barzal and company were +310 to make the playoffs at FanDuel. That number represented just a 24.4 per cent implied probability.

After turning things around over the past three weeks, the Islanders are -1700 to make the playoffs at FanDuel. That number represents a 94.4 per cent probability.

The Isles have a golden opportunity to lock up a playoff spot night with a win over the New Jersey Devils.

In the event they fail to register a single point, it could set up a potential high-stakes showdown against the Penguins in their regular-season finale on Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh will attempt to bounce back from its first regulation loss since March 22 when the Nashville Predators visit tonight.

Despite going 7-1-2 in their previous 10 games, the Penguins are one point back of the final wild-card spot with two games to go and Washington, Detroit, and Philadelphia all above them in the standings.

If Sidney Crosby and company are going to make it, they’re going to need some help.

The Capitals are a +130 home underdog against a Boston Bruins team that just beat Pittsburgh on Saturday.

If Washington can pull off the upset win on home ice, they will advance to their regular-season finale against the Flyers in control of their path to the playoffs. If the Capitals fail to earn a single point, it will open the door once again for the other teams in the mix.

Interestingly, the Red Wings currently have shorter odds to make the playoffs than Washington at FanDuel. That’s despite trailing the Capitals by one point in the standings with the same number of games remaining.

Detroit is 6-12-3 dating back to Feb. 29. Despite the ugly record, the Red Wings are still very much in the mix after picking up a crucial overtime win against the rival Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

The Red Wings close their season with a home-and-home against the Montreal Canadiens. Detroit is currently a -205 moneyline favourite for the first of the two games on home ice tonight.

If the Red Wings win, and the Capitals lose in regulation, Detroit will move back into the final wild-card spot needing just one more win over Montreal to clinch.

Anything less than two points tonight would put the Red Wings’ playoff hopes in major jeopardy.

As it stands, Detroit is +110 to make the playoffs – a 47.6 per cent implied probability.

Not great, but a better chance than the traders at FanDuel give Washington at +210 – a 32.3 per cent chance.

The Penguins’ odds to make the playoffs jumped from +130 to +360 at FanDuel following Saturday’s loss to Boston.

Philly is down from +1400 to +400 – a much shorter price than at this time last week, but still the longest odds of the five teams still in the mix in the East playoff race.

If I had to wager on the two teams that go on to make the playoffs, I’d bet on the Islanders and the Red Wings.

Ultimately, the Capitals can take a massive step towards proving me wrong with an upset win over the Bruins on home ice tonight.

Meanwhile, after going 3-1 with the FanDuel Best Bets in this column last week, I’ve been looking forward to running it back with some more winners.

Let’s start with a two-team moneyline parlay with the Red Wings and the Rangers to win outright.

As I’ve already highlighted, Detroit will be on home ice against an inferior opponent that has nothing left to play for coming off an impressive win in Toronto.

With their season on the line, I’ll take my chances with the Red Wings to beat the Habs.

In the second leg, I’ll lock in a Rangers win over Ottawa. New York can clinch the Presidents’ Trophy with a win on home ice. I don’t envision them letting the Senators play spoiler.

A two-team parlay with the Red Wings and Rangers to win outright pays +115 at FanDuel.

I’ll lock in that traditional two-team moneyline parlay as my FanDuel Best Bet for Monday’s Morning Coffee.