As the Boston Bruins begin a grueling stretch of eleven games for the rest of March, the Eastern Conference wild card Race is heating up.
Heading into game action Tuesday night six teams had realistic shots at being a wild card team in the Eastern Conference. The New York Islanders (74) held the top wild card slot with the Pittsburgh Penguins (73), in the second slot trailing them by only a point. The Florida Panthers (70) were nipping at the Penguins, and below the Cats, the Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres and Washington Capitals were in a three-way tie with 68 points a piece.
Obviously this will be a race to the finish but until then here’s your weekly Wednesday skinny on the current wild card teams and potential first round match-up’s for the Boston Bruins in the 2022-23 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
WC 1: New York Islanders (66 GP, 33-25-8, 74 pts)
-The Boston Bruins went 3-0-0 against the New York Islanders this season. The Islanders had given the Bruins fits with their grinding, playoff style hockey but this season the Bruins owned the Isles, out-scoring them 14-6 over three games, while Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark held the fort down with a 2.00 GAA against New York.
-Despite missing star centre Mathew Barzal, the Islanders have played some gutsy hockey lately, including a big win over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.
-The Islanders will play two straight more teams they’re battling for a wild card spot in their next two games. They’re in Pittsburgh to play Penguins on Thursday night, and they then host Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals on Saturday night.
WC 2: Pittsburgh Penguins (63 GP, 32-22-9, 73 pts)
-The Boston Bruins are 2-0-0 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’ve out-scored the Pens 8-6 and will play them for a third and final time in the regular season on April 1.
-It appears that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have decided to put the team on their back again as both have heated up as of late. Crosby willed the Penguins back from a 4-0 deficit Thursday and scored the overtime winner for a huge 5-4 comeback win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.
“Their star players have decided to prove everyone wrong,” NHL analyst Pierre McGuire said on TSN 690 on Wednesday night.
Keep an eye on that, as a pissed off – and determined to prove he’a not fading – Crosby would not be fun for the Bruins in the first round.
-As mentioned above, the Pens have a huge wild card race game Thursday on home ice. That’s the second game of their current five-game home stand. On Saturday, they host their in-state rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, and then on Sunday they host the New York Rangers, and close out the home stand on Tuesday against the Montreal Canadiens.