The 2022-23 NHL season passed the three-quarter mark this week, and saw the Boston Bruins become the first team to clinch a playoff spot for the upcoming postseason. It is no great surprise that the Bruins would be the first team to secure their spot, given their dominance of the regular season. Carolina and New Jersey should follow suit in the coming weeks, as the regular season moves rapidly towards its conclusion.
It has been well documented, but there aren't many seasons on record that have showed such a disparity in the standards of the two conferences. In the Eastern Conference, New Jersey have the third-highest points total, with 92, behind Boston and Carolina. That 92-point total would lead the Western Conference by a distance, with Vegas currently occupying top spot in the west with 86 points. Five of the top six favorites on NHL betting sites come from the Eastern Conference, a further indication of just how strong the east has become.
In Pittsburgh, coach Mike Sullivan became the 11th-fastest head coach in NHL history to record 400 wins, doing so with an emphatic 5-1 victory over state rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers.
A particularly disappointing week for the Blue Jackets, who squandered a four-goal lead against the Penguins on Tuesday night. With Joonas Korpisalo traded to LA, and Elvis Merzlikins injured in Pittsburgh, the Blue Jackets are now depending on the Michael Hutchinson for their goaltending. Hutchinson has allowed 10 goals on his first 79 shots faced this season. That's worth remembering when visiting NHL betting apps.
You could make a pretty compelling argument that the post-Timo Meier San Jose Sharks are the worst team in the National Hockey League. With just two wins from their last 13 games, this is a team that is in freefall, with no real signs of improving. Since the trade deadline passed, the Sharks have allowed a league-worst 25 goals in five games.
A solitary win from four games this week for Chicago, was enough to put them ahead of the Sharks and move them out of the bottom two in the NHL standings. The top-scoring player remaining on the Blackhawks roster is Seth Jones, who has just 31 points in 56 games. The lack of scoring power shows just how paper-thin the Blackhawks depth is right now.
The Ducks put a significant dent in the Calgary Flames chances of making the playoffs on Friday night, defeating their Pacific Division rivals 3-1 on the road. It hasn't been a bad run of late for Anaheim, who have five wins in their last eight games, including road wins against Washington, Carolina and, now, Calgary. Signs of improvement, at least.
A six-point week for the Yotes, who went 2-0-2 from their four games over the past seven days. Clayton Keller is keeping up his point-per-game pace, with 27 goals and 39 assists, for 66 points in 66 games played. The loss of Chychrun and Gostisbehere does not seem to have had an immediate impact on Arizona's ability to win games.
Saturday night's game between the Canadiens and Devils was the first time that Montreal has been involved in a game with no penalties, for either side, since early 1980. Perhaps this is reflective of there being nothing at stake for Montreal, who have now lost six straight games, and are facing into six games against either playoff teams, or potential playoff teams.
The Flyers are in freefall, having won just two of their last 11 games. Since the loss of Travis Konecny to injury on 20 February, Philadelphia has scored just 12 goals in eight games, winning just once. Pennsylvania rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, were the latest team to heap on the misery, with a comfortable 5-1 win on Saturday afternoon.
Quite unexpectedly, the Vancouver Canucks have sprung into life lately, with a four-game winning streak and six wins in their last eight games. Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller and Andrei Kuzmenko have all been point-per-game players in the eight-game span. Kuzmenko leads the league in goals for a new team this season, with 31 tallies in his first season in Vancouver.
The schedule handed St. Louis some nice relief this week, as they faced fellow strugglers, Arizona, San Jose and Columbus. Two wins from those three games feels about right for where this team is at right now. The next fortnight's schedule isn't quite as forgiving, so don't expect this form to continue for much longer when placing your bet on USA sports betting sites.
For a brief moment, it looked like Detroit could potentially sneak into the wild card spots in the Eastern Conference. However, seven defeats in their last eight games have brought that to a halt. A blown 2-0 lead over Tyler Bertuzzi and the Bruins on Saturday night showed just how fragile the team can be at the moment, even when leading.
Although it is still very much a mathematical possibility, the chances of the Senators extending their season into the month of May, look quite slim at this juncture. Heavy defeats against struggling Chicago and Vancouver this week haven't helped the situation, and the Canadian betting sites are lengthening the Sens' playoff odds with each passing week. The upcoming schedule doesn't look too promising for Ottawa.
It would take an almighty effort from the Capitals to get back into the playoffs at this stage. Defeats to the Kings and Devils this week have put Washington in an even worse position at the end of the week, than that which they started it with. John Carlson's return to the ice was a very welcome sight.
Four straight losses, and six in their last seven, have seen the Buffalo Sabres fall from contending for the playoffs this year. Winning weeks for both the Penguins and Islanders haven't helped the Sabres' cause either, as they have now fallen seven points back from the wild card spots. A 10-4 defeat to Dallas on Thursday was particularly humbling.
After losing five straight games, the Flames got back on track with back-to-back road wins over Dallas and Minnesota. A couple of days of rest later, and with home advantage, they couldn't keep the good form going, as they succumbed to the lowly Anaheim Ducks on Friday night. The Flames' playoff hopes remain very much in the balance right now.
The next three games for Nashville come against teams that are out of playoff contention. In reality, the Predators will need to win all three if they are to revive their playoff chances. With fewer games played than those ahead of them, Nashville knows that this will be their last chance to leave the chasing pack behind and put themselves back into the race.
Florida is now the most likely challenger to the Islanders and Penguins, when it comes to taking one of the wild card spots in the east. Some NHL betting apps have the Islanders and Panthers neck-and-neck in the betting for the cup, but in reality, both sides should be considered rank outsiders to challenge in the playoffs, at this point.
Just like the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Islanders are doing just about enough to stay afloat in the wild card spots in the Eastern Conference. Both sides are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games, as are their nearest challengers, the Florida Panthers, meaning that the Islanders and Penguins have just about held their ground. It promises to be a tight finish.
Six wins in their last eight games have the Penguins in a healthy, if not entirely secure playoff position. It will almost certainly be a wild card spot, if the Penguins are to continue their remarkable streak of making the playoffs for a remarkable 17th season. Veteran centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are both scoring at a point-per-game pace.
A 5-4 overtime win over Florida on Saturday marked just the third win for the Winnipeg Jets in the last three-and-a-half weeks, a span of 12 games. Such has been their struggle to find form lately, that the Jets have slipped out of the automatic playoff berths and down into the second wild card spot. Luckily for them, those below them are also struggling for form.
Steady-as-she-goes for the Seattle Kraken, who have now picked up points in six of their last seven games, including five wins. It would take a collapse of immeasurable proportions for this Seattle team not to make their first postseason, in an albeit brief franchise history. Who their first-round opponents might be, however, really is anyone's guess.
No team in the NHL has lost as many games from a comfortable winning position, as the Edmonton Oilers. Saturday night marked the eighth time that Edmonton has lost after holding a multiple goal lead this season. With 15 games left in their season, the Oilers currently hold the top wild card spot in the west, and look comfortable to make the postseason.
An injury to Kirill Kaprizov had threatened to derail the Wild, but they are now 10-0-2 in their last dozen games, and are one game shy of a franchise record point streak. The Wild should have enough in the tank to remain in their automatic playoff berth for the next while, but the loss of Kaprizov cannot be underestimated.
Nashville brought the Kings' five-game winning streak to an end on Saturday night, winning 2-1 in overtime. The six-game point streak has allowed the Kings to solidify their playoff spot in the Pacific Division as they have pulled clear of Seattle and Edmonton. The Kings' Stanley Cup odds odds have been slowly but steadily shortening as the season has progressed.
Tampa Bay has failed to win two consecutive games in the past month, taking some of the gloss off what had been a pretty impressive season to that point. In the past four weeks, the Lightning have just five wins. Brayden Point still leads the NHL with 26 goals since the Christmas break, but Toronto won't be quivering in their boots.
Patrick Kane found his way onto the scoresheet for the Rangers in both games played this week, with the Rangers winning both against Montreal and Buffalo. As expected, Kane has taken a prominent role in the Rangers lineup, sharing a line and a powerplay unit with Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck. Three of the next four Rangers' games are against the Penguins.
With just two wins in their last six games, the Colorado Avalanche seem to have hit a bit of a wall in their season. The two wins that they did manage in that time came against non-playoff sides, in the Sharks and Coyotes. Superstar defenseman Cale Makar set a franchise record with his fifth career overtime goal, the most by a defenseman in Avs history.
It has been an up-and-down season for Vegas, with injuries causing massive disruptions throughout the campaign. Right now, however, the Golden Knights find themselves on the crest of a wave, with five wins in their last six games. Jonathan Quick has won his first three starts for his new team, including a spectacular 33-save shutout against Carolina on Saturday night.
The Stars put up 10 goals on the Buffalo Sabres in midweek, tied for the second most goals they have scored in an NHL game. With six wins in their last eight games, Dallas has established a healthy position in the Central Division, and the playoffs look to be a safe bet. USA sports betting sites have the Stars firmly in the chasing pack.
With each passing week, the Maple Leafs look more and more secure in their quest for home advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They now hold a four-point lead over the Lightning, with a game to spare. Auston Matthews has recorded his seventh consecutive season of 30+ goals. Only Alex Ovechkin has more, with 15.
Although the Devils remain competitive, the form of Jack Hughes remains a concern. The talented young forward has recorded just one goal in 10 games since returning from injury in the middle of last month. Hughes had 28 goals in 30 games before the injury, and was held without a shot on Saturday for the first time this season.
The Hurricanes were shut out by Jonathan Quick and the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday, just the third time they have failed to score this season. The blank came after four straight wins, however, so there is no cause for panic in Raleigh. New Jersey stands ready to pounce on any prolonged Carolina slip-up, as the two teams compete for the top spot in the Metro division.
The Boston Bruins became the first team to have their name suffixed with an "x" this season, as they clinched their playoff berth in Saturday night's comeback win over the Red Wings. The Bruins also picked up their 50th win of the season in that game, and have the highest points percentage in the NHL since the Montreal Canadiens of 1976-77.