Eastern Conference Wild Card Up For Grabs

With the NHL Trade Deadline now behind us, teams can now focus on the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the regular season comes to an end. On average, teams have about 20 games left on their schedule to get into a playoff spot or hold on to the one they currently have. Regarding the top three teams in each division, it seems the Atlantic is already determined, as the Boston Bruins have the top spot locked up, and the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lighting will duke it out for the second and third spots. The Hurricanes currently hold the top spot for the Metropolitan Divison, but the New Jersey Devils are right on their heels as they trail by two points, with the New York Rangers coming in third.

With these six teams pretty much locked in to make the playoffs, that leaves ten teams fighting for two Wild Card spots. Out of those ten, seven realistically have a shot at making the playoffs if everything goes right. At the moment, seven points separate the top and seventh-seeded teams in the Eastern Conference Wild Card race.

Here is a look at each team and where they rank according to their current spot in the Wild Card standings.

New York Islanders

The Islanders hold the top Wild Card spot, but they have also played the most out of all seven teams. Their 65 games are the most games played by any team in the NHL through March 5th. Unfortunately, they have only racked up 72 points in that span, which doesn’t help them hold onto the top spot for very long. Out of all the teams on this list, the Islanders are a couple of losses away from slipping out of the Wild Card.

Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins hold onto the second Wild Card Spot and are poised to jump ahead of the Islanders with their next win, as they only trail them by one point and have three games in hand. After an up-and-down start to the season, the veteran core has them right back in it to make another playoff appearance.

Buffalo Sabres

One of the surprise teams this year, the Sabres have been led by their young core of Tage Thompson and Rasmus Dahlin. Out of the seven teams, they have played the least amount of games with 61 and are only four points behind the Islanders. If the Sabres can tighten up their defensive play down the stretch, they have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Ottawa Senators

One of the hottest teams in the NHL, the Senators have won five straight games as they make a late push for the Wild Card. They have played 62 games and have 68 points, as they have been closing the gap quickly. They made a big splash at the deadline by acquiring defenseman Jakob Chychrun as they addressed their need for a top defenseman. With all the talent on this team and their current momentum, the Senators can sneak into the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

Florida Panthers

One of the biggest disappointments of the 2022-23 season the Panthers may not even make the playoffs after winning the Presidents Trophy last year. Playing more games than most, just like the Islanders, could hurt them down the stretch as teams capitalize on the games in hand, sending Florida further down the standings. They are currently fifth in the Wild Card standings, having 68 points through 64 games.

Washington Capitals

One of the biggest sellers at the trade deadline, the Capitals have accepted that this year is a lost season, and they are ok with however it ends. They have been riddled with injuries all season but have stayed somewhat afloat. They controlled a Wild Card spot before a six-game losing streak dropped them down the standings. The Caps sit sixth in the Wild Card race as they have 68 points in 64 games but have won two straight, showing signs of life. As long as Alex Ovechkin is on this team, they will remain competitive while getting a glimpse at some of their top prospects down the stretch.

Detroit Red Wings

Sitting in seventh place, the Red Wings have 65 points in 63 games and have an outside chance of making the playoffs this season. Just like the Capitals, they accepted that they might not make the playoffs this season, and that’s ok. Instead of making a big acquisition at the deadline, Steve Yzerman unloaded players, including Tyler Bertuzzi, Filip Hronek, and Jakub Vrana, for an array of draft picks, including two first-rounders. They understand they are a few pieces away from contending and now have the assets to address the issues this offseason.

Stanley Cup Aspirations Cue’ the Duck Boats Pod

The boys are back after a long break but have plenty to talk about as the playoffs are in full swing. We go series by series, looking at how teams have fared so far and who will come out on top. Thanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Stanley Cup Aspirations
  2. The Final Countdown
  3. Here Come the Playoffs
  4. Home Stretch
  5. Kevy Cooks

Kevin Santangelo

Co Host of Cue' the Duck Boats Podcast Writer for Inside the Rink

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