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NHL playoff races: Senators are surging, Avs approaching ‘panic’ territory

After one of the busiest NHL trade deadlines in more than a decade, clubs continue to jostle for playoff positioning.For contenders, it’s already a challenge to maintain momentum while integrating new faces. It’s an even tougher juggling act for teams fighting for survival — or even home-ice advantage. We’ve really just scratched the surface of

NHL playoff races: Senators are surging, Avs approaching ‘panic’ territory

After one of the busiest NHL trade deadlines in additional than a decade, golf equipment proceed to jostle for playoff positioning.

For contenders, it’s already a problem to take care of momentum whereas integrating new faces. It’s a fair more durable juggling act for groups preventing for survival — and even home-ice benefit. We’ve actually simply scratched the floor of how these adjustments may influence various playoff races, however here is a have a look at final week’s motion with groups ranked so as of standings factors.

(Editor’s Observe: Some groups are talked about a number of occasions as a result of being concerned in each division and wild card races. All standings are updated heading into March 6 video games.)

Jap Convention

Present East wild-card groups

New York Islanders (72 factors, 65 video games performed, .554 factors proportion): Barely up 📈

Throughout a light-weight week for the Islanders, they snagged a shootout level in a loss to the Wild after which beat the Red Wings in regulation. That recreation towards the Purple Wings started a stretch of games against bubble teams. They host the Sabres on Tuesday, journey to Pittsburgh on Thursday, after which face the Capitals at dwelling on Saturday. If their final two video games towards the Penguins (two important regulation wins for the Islanders) are any indication, these contests might make an affect on the bubble races.

Whereas different Eastern Conference teams engaged in an arms race, the Islanders principally settled for Bo Horvat as their commerce deadline addition. That mentioned, Pierre Engvall supplies some helpful depth for a workforce preventing for his or her playoff lives.

Pittsburgh Penguins (71 factors, 62GP, .573%): Barely up 📈

Put aside a justifiably criticized trade deadline (Mikael Granlund, for this workforce, in 2023?) and the Penguins principally took care of enterprise on the ice. They put collectively a four-game profitable streak, together with two wins towards the Lightning. A regulation loss to the determined Panthers ended that streak, however they’ll’t dwell on that.

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Over the following couple weeks, the Penguins combine video games they merely can’t afford to lose versus lesser groups (Columbus, Philadelphia, Montreal) with one other Islanders conflict and three video games towards the Rangers. That schedule looks as if a recipe for extra drama.

Preventing for one among two East wild-card spots

Buffalo Sabres (68 factors, 61 GP, .557%): Down, however not out. 📉

There’s a “occurs to everybody” really feel to dropping to the Bruins, even by a 7-1 rating. It additionally have to be refreshing for the Sabres to spark some existential crises within the Lightning, somewhat than acquire new ones because of Tampa Bay. Dropping a regulation loss to the Blue Jackets is a reminder that followers shouldn’t simply assume a workforce will make good on video games in hand, even versus cellar dwellers.

Their subsequent six video games contain 5 groups in playoff place (Oilers, Islanders, Stars, Rangers, and Maple Leafs) and one fading however nonetheless making an attempt to hold in there (Capitals). If we didn’t already be taught lots from the Sabres being quiet on the commerce deadline, this upcoming stretch will probably be a sink-or-swim second.

Ottawa Senators (68 factors, 62GP, .548%): Up, lots. 📈

Final week, it felt overly beneficiant to even embrace the Senators within the wild-card races. They’re now on a rousing five-game profitable streak highlighted by two wins so lopsided towards the Purple Wings, they may have given Detroit the additional push to promote to a stunning diploma on the deadline.

Talking of the commerce deadline, the Senators caught one of many greatest fish by nabbing Jakob Chychrun at an inexpensive worth. Even simply final week, it felt like that addition was extra concerning the mid-term future than the speedy current, however the Senators are surging.

They’ll must deal with a unique check forward: a five-game street journey (additionally seven of 9 away from dwelling). Disregard Ottawa at your personal peril.

Florida Panthers (68 factors, 64GP, .531%): Barely up 📈

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Since mid-February, the Panthers have been buying and selling wins and losses. As vital as a weekend regulation win towards the Penguins is, failing to get some extent towards the suddenly-selling Predators isn’t supreme.

Mired in a disappointing season and caught in wage cap paralysis, the Panthers treaded water on the deadline. They’ve 5 video games left of their present seven-game homestand, including to the rising vibe of “put up or shut up.” To this point, they haven’t precisely been making a forceful argument that they’ll really get their act collectively.

Washington Capitals (68 factors, 64GP, .531%): Bought at commerce deadline, but profitable currently. 🟰

Within the grand scheme of issues, a six-game dropping streak (all regulation losses) doubtless doomed the Capitals to “retool” country.

With a veteran-laden roster and Alex Ovechkin chasing Wayne Gretzky’s objectives file, the Capitals will most likely solely decide to placing one foot in that rebuilding territory for some time. Such a thought reverberates as Washington principally took care of enterprise not too long ago: they gained three of 4 video games (two towards clunkers, one versus the Rangers). This faint signal of hope might get squashed by the schedule forward, as they await the Kings, Devils, Islanders, Rangers, and Sabres.

Detroit Purple Wings (65 factors, 63GP, .516%): May very well be completely out quickly, additionally bought massive at commerce deadline. 📉

Hey, if you happen to’re going to plummet out of rivalry, you would possibly as properly do it earlier than the deadline as an alternative of after it. The Purple Wings discover themselves in a six-game dropping streak the place they’ve solely salvaged a single standings level. Two crushing regulation losses to the Senators gave them that final nudge to being big-time commerce deadline sellers, which can solely make it more durable for Detroit to remain within the race.

Lengthy-term, it’s not all doom and gloom, particularly with Dylan Larkin lastly signed to an extension. A weekend back-to-back set with the Bruins may be the ultimate nail of their 2022-23 season, nonetheless.

Western Convention

Race for the Central Division’s No. 1 seed

Dallas Stars (81 factors, 63 GP, .643%): Up, lots. 📈

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After a troubling month, the Stars are heating up, profitable three in a row and taking factors in 5 straight (4-0-1). Their most up-to-date one was key: a 7-3 thumping of the Avalanche.

Like different West groups, the Stars opted for baby steps somewhat than costly leaps on the commerce deadline. That’s a bit disappointing, but the West races are open sufficient that Dallas is wanting sturdy. We’ll see in the event that they nonetheless look hearty in a pair weeks, as they start a six-game street journey on Thursday.

Proper now, the Stars could be forgiven for eyeing home-ice within the West somewhat than sweating their divisional rivals. We’ll see if that continues to be true, as the primary workforce behind them can be red-hot.

Minnesota Wild (78 factors, 63 GP, .619%): Means up. 📈

Did seasonal melancholy wreak havoc on the Central? Just like the Stars, the Wild hit a heavy lull round mid-January to mid-February. Now they’re wanting scary. The Wild are on a four-game profitable streak and an imposing nine-game level streak (8-0-1).

Whenever you account for wage cap woes, it’s a bit simpler to abdomen the Wild primarily sorting by way of the discount bin on the deadline, particularly as different West groups had been frugal. If issues break proper, the Wild added sneaky scoring, rounding out a gaggle that was stingy defensively however struggled to mild up the scoreboard.

Colorado Avalanche (74 factors, 61 GP, .607%): Must shake off one other irritating stretch. 📉

Periodically all through the season, folks have needed to ask if we must be apprehensive concerning the Avalanche. That query resurfaced because the Avs are actually in a three-game dropping streak, settling for a single OT level. Colorado has higher cause to observe the wild-card rankings than dream of a division title.

If the Avalanche don’t win at the very least two video games this week (dwelling towards the Sharks, Kings, and Coyotes), then sound the alarms.

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The Avalanche have some work to do down the stretch of NHL season. (Getty)

The Avalanche have some work to do down the stretch of NHL season. (Getty)

Exterior the Central high three

Winnipeg Jets (74 factors, 63GP, .587%): Ice-cold, hoping they stopped the bleeding. 📉

Might Saturday’s 7-5 win over the Oilers be one thing of a rallying level? That gave the Jets simply their second win since Feb. 16, a stretch the place they’ve gone 2-6-1. Their schedule could not present apparent reduction, both. Beginning subsequent weekend, the Jets play eight of 10 video games on the street.

One can perceive if the Jets consider they’ve sufficient cushion to hold in there, and so they improved their stock a bit at the trade deadline, however it is a shaky workforce proper now.

Pacific Division’s No. 1 seed

Vegas Golden Knights: (82 factors, 63 GP, .651%): Sturdy week. 📈

Did the Golden Knights put some winter blues behind them? They’ve gained three video games in a row, together with snagging Jonathan Quick’s debut. It’s unclear if Fast is way more than a reputation recognition addition, however Vegas has been getting the job completed.

There are some actual exams up forward, although. The Golden Knights start a five-game street journey on Tuesday, with the primary three video games being doubtlessly bruising: Panthers, Lightning, and Hurricanes. Zooming out, eight of their subsequent 10 video games are on the street. No less than it is a workforce that’s traveled properly (17-6-5 away file) this season.

Los Angeles Kings (80 factors, 64GP, .625%): Up, lots. 📈

Did the Kings merely accept half measures at the trade deadline, or are we sleeping on these additions? It’s too early to inform, however the Kings gave themselves a powerful probability for home-ice within the first spherical, and might’t be completely disregarded as a division title menace.

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They’re now on a three-game profitable streak, and so they play eight of their subsequent 9 video games at dwelling. Issues are wanting up for a franchise that’s been on the rise for some time now.

Seattle Kraken (78 factors, 63GP, .619%): Up, lots. 📈

Are we past the purpose of it being a coincidence that the Kraken are so powerful on the street? They gained all 4 video games on their final street journey, bettering to an impressive 21-9-3 mark away from dwelling (in comparison with 15-12-3 in Seattle). Nonetheless, let’s assume it’s a great factor the Kraken play 5 of their subsequent six video games at dwelling, lets?

A lot of their outlook will probably be entwined with the Stars, as the 2 groups meet 3 times from March 11-21.

Exterior the Pacific high three

Edmonton Oilers: (76 factors, 64 GP, .594%): Barely up on the ice, promising work on the commerce deadline. 📈

With different Pacific Division rivals heating up, the Oilers’ view is restricted to the wild-card and probably a bounce someplace in that 2-3 seed matchup. That’s OK, particularly after the Oilers added a crucial defensive upgrade in Mattias Ekholm.

Getting two out of three wins in a reasonably difficult stretch (beating the Maple Leafs, splitting with the Jets) isn’t too shabby. Going ahead, they’ll’t snooze for a second, with six straight video games towards playoff-relevant groups.

West wild card races

Presently ranked as two West wild card groups: Jets (74 factors, 63GP, .587%) and Oilers (76 factors, 64 GP, .594%)

Nashville Predators (68 factors, 60GP, .567%): Promoting on the commerce deadline, but hanging in there on the ice. 🟰

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Credit score the Predators with their smart, sober approach to the trade deadline. Sweatier and extra determined groups would cling to any hope as an alternative of promoting off elements that principally aren’t working.

Let be recognized: the gamers who’re nonetheless there are placing within the work. Nashville’s gained 5 of six video games, together with two in a row. Positive, most of these groups are weaklings, however with three of their subsequent 4 towards equally struggling groups, the Predators might proceed to hold in there. Their odds are nonetheless low, however they might at the very least be capable to linger, particularly with Juuse Saros in aim.

Calgary Flames (67 factors, 63 GP, .550%): Collapsing and fading. 📉

The Flames mirror their offseason commerce companions from Florida in some broad methods: dim playoff hopes, caught (principally understandably) in impartial on the commerce deadline. Even their five-game dropping streak is considerably comprehensible, as Calgary fell to groups who’re all ranked above them within the standings.

Regardless, the Flames appear to be they’re toast. This workforce most likely deserves higher (see: Panthers, Florida) however the Flames could slip to the purpose the place they don’t even deserve a point out in these articles for much longer.

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