The Washington Capitals made good use of one of their games in hand on the Pittsburgh Penguins, and now they have a good chance to overtake third place. The Vegas Golden Knights had a prime opportunity to leap back into the playoff seedings with a win, but a minor league journeyman outdueled Robin Lehner, and coach Peter DeBoer wasn’t happy. Vegas is now hanging by a thread and is in danger of missing the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. The Vancouver Canucks are making a late charge past Vegas, injuries are mounting across the NHL, and the Penguins decided to practice today.
I think the Western Conference scramble is both awkward and exciting. The teams are 10 points behind the Eastern Conference teams, but it counts. The Vegas Golden Knights are playing like they don’t want to make the playoffs, but first…
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Consensus (including me last week) posited that the New York Rangers are the worst matchup in Round One for the Penguins. But are they, really? I put pen to paper (ok, fingers to keyboard), and my rankings surprised me when I did. Ranking the three possible playoff matchups, worst to first. Pittsburgh Penguins playoffs.
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Washington Hockey Now: Surely the red hot Colorado Avalanche would stop the hot Capitals, right? …Right? Wrong. The Capitals ended the Avalanche’s nine-game win streak and pulled to within one point of the Penguins with one game still in hand. The strong Washington Capitals closing argument.
Boston: OK, we’ll keep an eye on Boston, too. The Penguins have to finish ahead of Boston if they fall to the wild card to avoid the buzzsaw Florida Panthers. Bad news on the front (for the Penguins), David Pastrnak and starting goalie Linus Ullmark are skating and could play by this weekend. Boston Bruins injuries.
It’s looking more and more like Penguins-Florida Panthers.
NHL News & National Hockey Now
Vancouver Hockey Now: Getting closer…and closer. What looked like a long shot is becoming real. The Canucks have surged back into the Western Conference playoff race and did so with another win on Monday night. Vancouver Canucks momentum.
Vegas Hockey Now: Sometimes, teams just don’t have it. They get to the precipice and don’t have the will, the strength, or get the bounces. Head coach Peter DeBoer said sometimes you need your goalie to outplay their goalie, and”we didn’t get that.” Ouch! A terrible loss to the New Jersey Devils at home might be the straw that broke the Vegas Golden Knights back.
NHL.com: Hey, I’ve at least heard the name Macklemore. He does that song. You know, about the girl. He and Marshawn Lynch are now part-owners of the Seattle Kraken.
Montreal: Carey Price held court with the Montreal media. That’s no small thing. Politicians don’t get grilled as well as our Montreal colleagues interrogate players. Price wants to end his career on his terms. Montreal Canadiens takeaways.
Philly: I don’t know what to make of this story. It’s both a big deal and a “what the hell?” Trainers are suing because they were exposed to potentially carcinogenic Zamboni chemicals that caused a blood disorder. Philadelphia Flyers news.