NHL Playoff Push: One question for each of the bubble teams


As we start the third-last week of the common season, the high of the bracket is changing into increasingly clear. In the Metro Division, the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils have already clinched, and the Canes nonetheless have a three-point edge (with one recreation in hand) for home-ice benefit by means of no less than two rounds.

The New York Rangers are prone to comply with and clinch their very own spot someday this week. They’re idle Monday however might get up Tuesday morning with an “x” subsequent to their identify in the standings anyway if the Buffalo Sabres lose to the Montreal Canadiens in any vogue and the Florida Panthers lose to the Ottawa Senators in regulation.

In the Atlantic, the Boston Bruins have been working away from the pack all 12 months and clinched their spot some time in the past, whereas the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning have been locked right into a first-round playoff sequence for weeks. The Maple Leafs will in all probability clinch their berth this week, and may even achieve this on an idle Monday if Florida loses to Ottawa.

In the West, we nonetheless have two heated division titles up for grabs, with 5 (or six) teams all nonetheless in the combine. It’s so tight on the market that nobody has formally clinched a playoff spot but, and although nobody can do it Monday, the Vegas Golden Knights and Los Angeles Kings might do it later this week.

These top-of-the-table seedings will probably be mentioned deeper in the later levels of our playoff pushes however for now, our focus stays on these in the hunt simply to get in at the backside of the desk. What are the key questions going through these teams and what are their matchups this week? Right here’s our have a look at the week forward …

If the playoffs began right now, these can be our Jap Convention first-round matchups:

(A1) Bruins vs. (WC2) Penguins

(A2) Maple Leafs vs. (A3) Lightning

(M1) Hurricanes vs. (WC1) Islanders

(M2) Devils vs. (M3) Rangers

NY Islanders: Can they face up to a troublesome stretch of opponents upcoming?

New York had been higher of late. From the all-star break till final Thursday, the Islanders have been 12-5-3 (ninth in the NHL by factors proportion) and, crucially, had an bettering offence. The crew ranks twenty second on the season on targets per recreation (2.96), however since all-star has been 14th (3.35). However the final weekend noticed the Islanders drop two video games (one in OT) to Columbus and Buffalo and begin this week simply 4 factors clear of ninth in the convention. Now they’re about to face two weeks’ value of powerful opponents: can they get again on observe and win sufficient to remain forward?

Islanders video games this week: vs. NJD Monday, at Washington Wednesday, at Tampa Saturday, at Carolina Sunday

Pittsburgh Penguins: Can they get sufficient targets down the stretch to outlast the competitors?

In our piece final week mentioning some “notable stats and tendencies since the commerce deadline,” we confirmed some of the wonky weirdness round the Pittsburgh Penguins. Draw that window again much more and also you’ll see whereas the Penguins have generated tons of pictures and nice alternatives since Feb. 1, they’ve a bottom-third offence in the league. In comparison with the relaxation of the Jap Convention’s wild-card contenders, the Penguins’ offence trails with some horrible taking pictures percentages since Feb. 1 (league rank in parenthesis).






NY Islanders

29.88 (21)

2.92 (24)

3.19 (18)

10.66 (14)


37.6 (2)

3.95 (2)

3.05 (22)

8.12 (30)


39.56 (1)

4.03 (1)

3.58 (7)

9.05 (25)


31.15 (14)

3.12 (17)

3.15 (20)

10.12 (18)


30.29 (18)

3.06 (18)

3.25 (16)

10.73 (13)


31.92 (10)

3.18 (13)

3.4 (12)

10.65 (15)

Sure, goaltending can also be a narrative there, however this stalled offence is a priority. In the previous 10 video games Pittsburgh has scored no less than three targets, they’re 8-1-1.

Penguins video games this week: at Detroit Tuesday, vs. Nashville Thursday, vs. Boston Saturday, vs. Philadelphia Sunday

Florida Panthers: Can Sergei Bobrovsky again up a scorching offence, or steal a recreation or two?

The load falls on Bobrovsky from right here on out. Save for a possible begin from Alex Lyon on the back-to-back this week (we’re considering in opposition to Montreal), the $10-million Bobrovsky will in all probability play each different recreation remaining. This month, as Florida’s offence has recaptured some of final season’s madness, Bobrovsky has put up a number of good begins however total has come out of it with an .894 save proportion and a pair of.99 GAA to date. In 10 begins he’s allowed no less than 4 targets on 4 events. Can he do sufficient to only get them throughout the line or possibly even step up and steal a win or two down the stretch?

Panthers video games this week: at Ottawa Monday, at Toronto Wednesday, at Montreal Thursday, at Columbus Saturday

Buffalo Sabres: When will Devon Levi get a begin?

With a pair of wins Friday and Saturday evening, the Sabres begin the week six factors again of the wild card however with extra video games left on the schedule than every other bubble crew. Ready for his first begin is 21-year-old sensational goalie prospect Devon Levi, who simply signed out of NCAA Northeastern final week. After an unimaginable faculty profession, Sabres followers are hoping Levi turns into The Man, however when do you’re feeling snug placing him in? Do you wait to be mathematically eradicated from the playoffs to take that strain off or would you like a whiff of that motion? If that is the week, will he get to play in his hometown of Montreal on Monday? Or do you wait for maybe a softer touchdown at residence in opposition to the Flyers on Saturday?

Sabres video games this week: vs. Montreal Monday, vs. NY Rangers Friday, at Philadelphia Saturday

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Washington Capitals: Are these Peter Laviolette’s final video games?

Hypothesis is starting to creep in about the future of the head coach, who’s on an expiring contract and is about to overlook the playoffs after being eradicated in the first spherical two years in a row. The Capitals dropped Saturday’s recreation in Pittsburgh, which can have been their final shot at pulling again into the image — although consider there are nonetheless two video games in opposition to the Islanders on the schedule.

Capitals video games this week: vs. NY Islanders Wednesday, at Tampa Bay Thursday, vs. NY Rangers Sunday

Ottawa Senators: Can somebody, anybody, have a Hamburglar-lite run?

Since Cam Talbot went down on March 4, goaltending has been a smooth spot — their .880 save proportion in that point ranks twenty fourth in the league. Dylan Ferguson flashed in his first begin in opposition to the Penguins this week, then allowed 4 targets on 34 pictures in Saturday’s loss to New Jersey. Mads Sogaard has been given most of the begins over the previous few weeks, and although he allowed no less than 4 targets in opposition to in six straight begins earlier this month, his final two outings in opposition to Boston (a 2-1 loss) and Tampa Bay (a 7-2 win) have been strong. Can both, or each directly, simply discover magic and click on at exactly the proper time?

Senators video games this week: vs. Florida Monday, vs. Philadelphia Thursday, vs. Toronto Saturday, at Columbus Sunday

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If the playoffs began right now, these can be our Western Convention first-round matchups:

(P1) Golden Knights vs. (WC2) Jets

(P2) Kings vs. (P3) Oilers

(C1) Wild vs. (WC1) Kraken

(C2) Avalanche vs. (C3) Stars

Seattle Kraken: Can they take benefit of a “smooth” remaining schedule?

There are some potential landmines forward however, for the most half, Seattle doesn’t have the hardest competitors over the remaining three weeks. Since mid-January, the Kraken have performed a crew in the high three of its division 13 occasions and have a 3-8-2 file in opposition to these opponents. The remainder of the method they’ll face Minnesota and Los Angeles (this week) after which Vegas of their remaining two video games — and people are Seattle’s solely playoff opponents. In between the Kraken draw Anaheim, Vancouver, Chicago and Arizona thrice, video games wherein they will get the few factors wanted to formally clinch. That mentioned, each the Canucks and Coyotes are high 13 NHL teams by factors proportion since Feb. 1, so possibly it’ll be a rockier end than we presume…

Kraken video games this week: at Minnesota Monday, vs. Anaheim Thursday, vs. Los Angeles Saturday

Winnipeg Jets: Can they preserve management of their future?

The Jets have a four- and five-point lead on the teams chasing from behind, however their wholesome lead in the regulation wins class used as the first tie-breaker means they’re actually forward by another level. They draw San Jose and Detroit this week, two winnable video games, after which get to tackle the Flames and Predators straight subsequent week. However they’re simply not pulling away and are leaving Calgary and Nashville with even small hope. Heck, a number of dangerous losses this week might hand the steering wheel again to the Preds earlier than subsequent week’s assembly.

Jets video games this week: at San Jose Tuesday, vs. Detroit Friday, vs. New Jersey Sunday

Calgary Flames: When will Matt Coronato play?

This, actually, is what most Flames followers are enthusiastic about proper now. Saturday’s win in opposition to San Jose — coupled with Winnipeg’s loss to Los Angeles — saved the dream alive, however the Flames will face the Kings this week after getting dragged 8-2 by them final week, so this sense could also be for a restricted time solely. There’s a lot to debate about the future of this crew in the summer time, however one factor they will depend on is Matt Coronato being a component of it. The Harvard signee will be a part of the crew this week, however simply how — or when — head coach Darryl Sutter makes use of him is anybody’s guess.

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Nashville Predators: Have they got sufficient video games in hand to make up the floor?

Although they path Winnipeg in the first tie-breaker, the Predators have one benefit themselves: they’ve the most remaining video games on this Western Convention race. After all, that may typically be a curse. Sure, the Preds have the most video games left to play, however they’ve rather a lot of stiff competitors forward. Think about that, subsequent Sunday morning earlier than the Jets tackle New Jersey, Nashville will draw even with Winnipeg in video games performed, however must face Boston, Pittsburgh and St. Louis in the meantime. After that, it’s Dallas, Vegas and Carolina. And now the Preds add one other veteran scorer to the IR, with Matt Duchene becoming a member of Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Roman Josi on the sidelines.

Extra from Sportsnet

32 Ideas Podcast: May this be the finish for the core of the Winnipeg Jets?

Weekend Takeaways: Wild using sturdy stretch to sit down atop crowded Central Division

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