Lightning Round: peering over at the rampant wild card race
Who gets the pleasure of playing Boston first?
The divisional seeds in the Eastern Conference are all but sewn up at this point late in the season. The top six teams in the conference will make it to the playoffs and the two pairs of 2-3 seeds pretty much know who they’re going to be facing. However, the same can’t be said for the Eastern Conference Wild Card, which has as many as four teams vying for the very last spot in the playoffs. Those teams are Pittsburgh, Florida, Buffalo, and Ottawa. The Islanders in seventh are probably safe with a five-point gap over the Pens.
With fewer games than you can count on two hands left to go in the season, the Wild Card seeds will come down to the wire. Let’s get a lay of the land and see who’s positioned well for the finale.
7th: New York Islanders 87 points 6 GR
8th: Pittsburgh Penguins 82 points 8 GR
9th: Florida Panthers 81 points 7 GR
10th: Buffalo Sabres 77 points 9 GR
11th: Ottawa Senators 77 points 8 GR
I’m going to knock Ottawa out of contention here because they’d need to make up 5 points on the Pittsburgh Penguins without any games in hand, while also passing Florida who are four points ahead with a game in hand. It doesn’t seem likely for them. Buffalo has a slightly better chance with the extra game to play, but they might be long shots, too.
Buffalo’s schedule is relatively nice for them, only four of their remaining games are against current playoff teams. Ottawa also has to play four playoff teams in their final eight games. It’s not likely, but an outside chance is a chance nonetheless.
The real battle, in my opinion, is between Pittsburgh and Florida. Florida just won a crucial comeback victory over Toronto last night, putting them one point back of Pittsburgh with -1 games in hand. They are still behind on points percentage, but they’re right there in it.
Looking at the schedules moving forward for those two teams, Pittsburgh has a nice schedule ahead of them, with only Boston, New Jersey, and Minnesota still to play as playoff teams. Meanwhile the Panthers have to play the Leafs one more time as well as the Hurricanes in their last game of the season. They also play Buffalo and Ottawa, which might be interesting for those two longshot teams. I was hoping Pittsburgh and Florida would play each other the way the Lightning are playing the Leafs on April 11th, but alas the schedule makers couldn’t predict it.
Who gets the final wild card spot and the pleasure of playing the Boston Bruins in the first round
|New York Islanders||4|
I guess over here I’m asking who has the best goalie.
Same list, who would you like to see Boston face in the first round for a possible upset?
|New York Islanders||26|
Nick Perbix and Bolts Radio are previewing the NCAA Men’s Frozen Four tournament next weekend. Check out the first episode.
Here is Episode One with Nick Perbix.— Lightning Radio (@BoltsRadio) March 29, 2023
He talks about his time at St. Cloud State, his TampaFrozen Four experience, and more
Frozen Four seats are still available. Tickets start at $50, go to https://t.co/u4PfxAT8Wp for more.https://t.co/rf9uqtvmk0
The Boston Bruins don’t have enough cap space to activate Taylor Hall. Will they be punished for exceeding the cap? Ha, we’ll see.
Dreger here: "Sources say that he [Hall] feels that he is ready. The problem is the Bruins don't have the cap space to activate Taylor Hall." https://t.co/TvyOgNDQnW— Scott McLaughlin (@smclaughlin9) March 28, 2023
Tensions forming in the AHL as there seem to be some power plays going on. I’m hearing some speculation that Toronto’s Lawrence Gilman is vying for the league’s top job.
I've seen the report from Dreger saying AHL President/CEO Scott Howson's future is in limbo, and I don't doubt there might be some unhappy NHL execs.— Tony Androckitis* (@TonyAndrock) March 29, 2023
At this point, to me at least, this seems like a disgruntled employee airing dirty laundry to media to get a desired outcome.
Okay, to update @InsideAHLHockey:— Tony Androckitis* (@TonyAndrock) March 29, 2023
I've spoken with some team peeps from AHL teams in the Atlantic Division, and get the sense this 4-5 team contingency Dreger is reporting on that want Howson out as President/CEO are either a group of Canadian AHL teams or out on the west coast.
Money, money, money. It’s the theme of the OHL and their affiliate minor junior leagues.
OHL Commissioner David Branch confirms league hired an investigator to probe allegations that several hockey parents paid for their sons to be selected in 2022 OHL draft.— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) March 29, 2023
Three GTHL coaches have told me they have evidence (txt msgs) of parents paying $30K+.
Branch statement: pic.twitter.com/WKdQuYeQXa
Oh, and meanwhile the OHL is heading to Saginaw, Michigan for the 2024 Memorial Cup Final. Expect the Spirit to load up over the next year as they get a guaranteed buy into the prestigious tournament at the end of the year. The Memorial Cup is made up of the OHL, WHL, and QMJHL playoff champions, as well as the host team. If a host team for the Mem Cup wins their league tournament, the loser of that final will get to go.
For the first time since 1998, an American team will host the #MemorialCup presented by @KiaCanada https://t.co/w28BUXI83Q— Saginaw Spirit (@SpiritHockey) March 29, 2023
The Erie Otters will get to pick first in the upcoming OHL Draft for the first time since selecting Connor McDavid. I don’t know which 15-year-old they’ll pick this year.
BREAKING!! For the first time since 2012, we will pick 1st in the @OHLHockey Priority Selection!— Erie Otters 🦦 (@ErieOtters) March 29, 2023
📰: https://t.co/8HwdNKbzJd@RealCdnSS | #OHLDraft pic.twitter.com/lHePfG7T19