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We’re in that part of the season when we're too far out from the trade deadline to get truly excited about it, and the games seem to mean less than they did at the beginning of the year. Part of that is reality setting in for clubs on the outside of the playoff picture, but a lot of it is that 82 games is a lot of games for the players, teams, and fans.

The reality is, though, that the wild card races this season are incredible, and they’re anything but settled.

David Pastrnak (Boston Bruins) to score anytime vs Tampa Bay Lightning 

Going back to the beginning of December, pending free agent sniper David Pastrnak has a ridiculous 23 goals in 25 games for the Bruins, leading the entire NHL over that time, while also leading the league in shots on goal with 117.

If you cut things to early 2023, Pastrnak is somehow even hotter, scoring 12 goals in just 11 games. There’s really not much you can do to stop him, especially when the Bruins are pressed and re-unite the Perfection line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) to both score 1+ points 

Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals appear to be essentially past their windows as legitimate cup contenders. Without meeting constantly in the playoffs, the rivalry that defined the 2010s in the NHL isn’t anywhere close to what it once was. But it isn’t dead.

These were the two faces of the NHL from 2005 to about 2019, when Connor McDavid really put the rest of the league behind him. Despite their ages at 35 and 37 respectively, both Crosby and Ovechkin are over a point per game, continuing to lead their clubs into playoff positions.

Buffalo Sabres to beat Winnipeg Jets 

The Jets remain one of the best teams in the Western Conference, but lately they’ve been struggling against teams from the East, and the Sabres are suddenly playing pretty great hockey again, winning four straight games.

What’s impressive for the Sabres is that this winning streak has been happening with leading scorer Tage Thompson going a little cold in the scoring department, with just one in his last four games, and two in his last 10. The secondary scoring for Buffalo has come up with big moments over and over. They’ll need it against a Jets team that has some incredible firepower.

Chicago Blackhawks (+1.5) vs Calgary Flames 

Having just lost Max Domi to injury, I don’t think the tanking Chicago Blackhawks are going to win this game, but the Calgary Flames have arguably been the worst team in the NHL this season at losing games that they should clearly win, among actual good teams at least.

For whatever reason, the Flames seem to be excellent at both snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and making games they should have well in hand unnecessarily close. They should win this one, but don’t be surprised if the Blackhawks make it tight.