Welcome to the deadzone. It is the soft part of the home stretch when most teams have their 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs ticket almost assuredly punched, a few are scrapping for seeding, coaches pray before bed their star players stay healthy, and we get a few meaningful divisional games interspersed with cute non-conference games. The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals have not made acquaintances in far too long but will do so on Saturday. The NHL playoff scenarios are forming, though the Vegas Golden Knights are the last X-factor whose fate could go either way. And the Buffalo Sabres weren’t too upset to see Michigan lose in the Frozen Four because they inked top overall pick Owen Power.
I’ve been a little dismissive of the Capitals catching the Penguins in the Metro. I also didn’t expect to see the Penguins swoon in their last 10, including three straight losses.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The Penguins’ reaction to their loss to the New York Rangers was a hot topic amongst our readers. The Penguins and head coach Mike Sullivan were almost unflinchingly optimistic. Full story. Pittsburgh Penguins analysis.
If you missed it, Igor Shesterkin not only shut out the Penguins on Thursday, but then he taunted them as they headed off the ice. Penguins-Rangers scrap.
Washington Hockey Now: Conor Sheary is sick, so the Capitals lineup might get a shuffle. Washington Capitals practice.
NYI: Not sure if this is good news or bad news for the Pittsburgh Penguins–The Carolina Hurricanes lost. Kyle Palmieri scored a last-second goal for a New York Islanders win.
Do you want the Rangers to pass Carolina?
Philly: Flyers prospect Bobby Brink helped lead Denver to the NCAA title game. Philadelphia Flyers prospects.
NHL News & National Hockey Now:
San Jose Hockey Now: Doug Wilson stepped down as GM of the San Jose Sharks. It’s been 19 years on the job. However, they’re still not rebuilding. What about Tomas Hertl and Bob Boughner as the coach? San Jose Sharks shakeup.
Sportsnet: Updated playoff scenarios for all of the divisions and wild cards.
TSN: The NHL season may start a bit later, again, next season? Where will the 2023 World Juniors, previously scheduled to be held in Russia, occur?
Montreal: Carey Price will decide his return date–he’s traveling with the team. Jeff Petry could play this weekend. Montreal Canadiens news.
Buffalo News: The excitement is building–the Buffalo Sabres signed first overall pick Owen Power to an ELC. His arrival is imminent.
Florida: After years in Buffalo, a player doesn’t know what the playoffs are like. One year in Florida, and Sam Reinhart is about to play in the greatest tournament in sports, FINALLY. Florida Panthers feature.
Calgary: The Flames blazed through California on a perfect road trip. Calgary Flames news.
Vegas: And… some nutjob wrote a column in Vegas. The Pittsburgh Penguins and Golden Knights made the same mistake. For the same reasons. And, it’s cast a pall over both. The Penguins and Vegas both erred with Marc-Andre Fleury. Vegas Golden Knights opinion.