NHL News

Penguins heat up, Senators and Sabres in danger zone

The Penguins are giving themselves some breathing room in the NHL's Eastern Conference wild-card race. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

The 2022-23 NHL campaign is entering the home stretch, with only a month remaining before the end of the regular season. Here’s a look at how the league’s most relevant playoff races shifted last week, with some teams falling out of the mix.

(Editor’s Note: Some teams are mentioned multiple times due to being involved in both division and wild-card races. All standings are up to date heading into the games on March 13.)

Eastern Conference

Current East wild-card teams

Pittsburgh Penguins (78 points, 66 games played, .591 points percentage): Heating up 📈

When you zoom out, the big picture isn’t the prettiest for Pittsburgh. Focus on the present, however, and you’ll note the Penguins have been playing well. Catching the Rangers (84 points in 66 GP, .636%) is likely too big of a dream, but Pittsburgh feels warmly insulated from those just outside the East playoff picture.

The Penguins have been hot lately, and even got some offense from Mikael Granlund (one goal, one assist) on Saturday.

The Penguins are giving themselves some breathing room in the NHL’s Eastern Conference wild-card race. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

New York Islanders (76 points, 68 GP, .559%): Trending up 📈

A regulation loss to the Capitals ended a three-game winning streak, and gave Washington at least a pinch of optimism. Nonetheless, the Islanders have been taking care of business, even with Mathew Barzal’s absence nearing a full month.

Although the Islanders approach a three-game road trip, it’s all against California teams — a journey that’s gone from harrowing to feeling shame if you get anything less than two wins and five of six standings points.

Fighting for one of two East wild-card spots

Florida Panthers (73 points, 67 GP, .545%): Making a push, paying for procrastinating. 📈

If you rank potential first-round opponents with at least a chance of upsetting the Bruins, the Panthers may rank first. With each slump, such a chat felt like a waste of time, but maybe these Cats woke up?

Sleepwalking earlier hurts a bit extra because the Panthers don’t have any games remaining against the Penguins or Islanders. Theoretically, Florida may need to do some scoreboard watching and finally deliver on expectations to make this work.

Washington Capitals (71 points, 67 GP, .530%): Shaky, but buoyed by beating the Islanders. 🟰

Washington offered the definition of a playoff bubble record in three games: 1-1-1. That said, the regulation win came against the…

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