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Playoff Opponent Update: Final Stretch

The race to become Boston’s first round opponent has been heating up, and a team I thought for sure was out of it raises it’s ugly mug back into view.

Philadelphia Flyers v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

While the B’s go for records, some teams simply go for making the postseason, and it’s going down to the wire. Let’s take a minute this Easter, and update you all on what’s going on in the Eastern Conference Wild Card.

Current Wild Card Attendees: Panthers (91 points, 6-4-0 in last 10), and Islanders (91 points, 6-3-1 in last 10), both have Two Games Left.

If Florida want to prove they’re for real, they have a miserable week ahead of them; having to face both Toronto and Carolina. The Canes are cooling off on their way into the playoffs, but don’t take them for granted; they’re a tough matchup no matter who they play, and the Panthers need to win out to secure their spot and hope that one of Washington (who is already out of it) and Montreal (who has a morgue for a roster) can steal a win. Ripping off 6 wins in a row is impressive, but they have to make it up to win 7 or 8 in order to lock things up.

The Islanders meanwhile have a much easier time ahead, but they’ve stumbled in places. Not against teams like the Caps or Habs mind you, but they need to keep up their pace that they re-started back against the Lightning. Failure could be disastrous for them.

Really, if you want an X-factor for either, here’s one: the Panthers and Islanders have nearly identical home records...and are both roughly .500 on the road. Sure, they play entirely different styles but they compliment each other so well.

Unfortunately for the Islanders, their coin flip away record needs to come up as called for them, as they play Washington on the road on Monday. Florida meanwhile, finishes their entire season at home.

Trying to keep pace: Pittsburgh (90 points, 6-4-0 in last 10), Two Games Left.

Losing to Boston and New Jersey really put a wrench in the Pens’ postseason plans, as now they must beat their final two opponents: the Blackhawks and the Blue Jackets, and hope that one of the Islanders or Panthers lose out. It’s not inconceivable, but they are realistically the team that needs the most to go right for them.

Especially because...

Wild Card’s Wildcard: Buffalo (85 points, 6-3-1 in last 10), Four Games Left

If Devon Levi was a Sabre this whole season, and they could’ve cruised to a Wildcard spot. But if and buts were candy and nuts and all that, so we’re all stuck with the Sabres on the outside looking in, and getting zero help from anybody.

But still...there is now a very...very slim chance, but not...impossible of a chance, for the Sabres to somehow catch up.

They have a grand total of eight points that they must grab in the next week, and if one of Pittsburgh, New York, or Florida (or more than one) lose one game at all...there’s a chance for them to make their way back into the NHL playoffs and break a drought going back to 2011. They have New York, New Jersey, Ottawa, and Columbus on the schedule.

I do not know if they can pull it off. But I have seen crazier things in this league.

Current Opponent as of this writing: NY Islanders

On Thursday night, we will officially update you on who the Bruins opponent in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs will be.

Oh, and Happy Easter, everybody!