If the Stanley Cup Playoffs began Wednesday the Boston Bruins would’ve hosted the New York Islanders in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. However, as we’ve seen over the last week, that can change in a hurry.
Heading into game action Thursday night five teams had realistic shots at being a wild card team in the Eastern Conference. The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders are tied in points with 78 but trail the Penguins in points-percentage. The Penguins are at .582 and the Islanders are at .557. The Washington Capitals (73 points), moved into a points tie with the Florida Panthers but trailed them in points percentage with the Caps at .529 and the Panthers at .545. The Buffalo Sabres, who lost 5-4 in a shootout to the Capitals, were still hanging in at 72 points.
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: Pittsburgh Penguins (67 GP, 34-23-10, 78 pts, .582%)
-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.
-Since last Wednesday, the Penguins continued to be arguably the biggest Jekyll and Hyde team in the league. They blew a 3-1 lead and loss 4-3 in overtime to the Islanders last Thursday but then won two straight games. They dominated their Keystone State rival, the Philadelphia Flyers 5-1 last Saturday and then beat the New York Rangers 3-2 in overtime on Sunday. On Tuesday though, they gave up four goals in the first period and lost 6-4 to the Montreal Canadiens, giving the Penguins a 3-1-1 record on their recent five-game home stand.
-One of the main reasons the Penguins are a question mark heading into every game these days is to be quite frank, their goaltending. Tristan Jarry gave up four goals on seven shots in the first period of the loss to the Canadiens, and was pulled for the second time in his past four starts.
-The Penguins are in New York for the next two games as they play a the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on both Thursday and Saturday, before returning home to face the Ottawa Senators on Monday.
WC 2: New York Islanders (69 GP, 34-27-8, 76 pts, .557%)
-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.
-After beating the Penguins last Thursday, the Islanders have allowed ten goals in two games. They lost 5-1 to the Washington Capitals on Saturday and then fell 5-2 to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night.
-The Islanders were playing at Anaheim on Wednesday, at San Jose on Saturday and then flying home to host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.