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With the NHL’s Trade Deadline come and gone, who is playing where is somewhat finalized for this season, barring last minute additions from the end of the NCAA season in a few weeks. The early returns from players moving mostly West to East has been fun, but the real fun is in the playoff races we didn’t really have last year.

The West has a lot less competition, but in the East there are a whopping eight teams within striking distance of the Wildcard race including the two currently seated in it. In the West, it’s the seeding that’s absolutely wild. There’s no time to take your eyes off the ice for the rest of the regular season.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi (Carolina Hurricanes) to score anytime vs Montreal Canadiens 

The prodigal son of the Marc Bergevin regime, or the latest one of many realistically, is blistering hot of late. Four points away from a modest career high in point production, Kotkaniemi has already tied his career high in goals. He put up five points in his last game, and has 13 points in his last 12 games, including five goals.

Kotkaniemi has played three games against his former team, and has scored twice while adding one assist. For a player with such low point production overall, that’s a big coincidence.

Vegas Golden Knights to beat Florida Panthers 

Visiting the desperate Panthers, the Golden Knights aren’t coasting into the playoffs at this point. They only have a game in hand and two points on their division rival Los Angeles Kings, and the streaky Seattle Kraken aren’t far behind either. Worse still, the Golden Knights are fighting with Dallas for the top spot in the West in order to avoid the Edmonton Oilers in the first round. No one wants to face Connor McDavid in round one.

The Panthers are going to push as hard as they can, too. They’re a team that should be in the playoff picture, and they have no first-round pick to soften the blow if they don’t make it. However, their inconsistency keeps showing up, and Vegas is a strong team with just as much to fight for.

Mikael Granlund (Pittsburgh Penguins) to score 1+ points vs Columbus Blue Jackets 

A trade deadline acquisition that got absolutely no fanfare whatsoever, Granlund is a playmaker who doesn’t get many assists, and doesn’t provide much else, but the Pittsburgh Penguins like him.

Facing the worst team in the NHL this season is a great opportunity for Granlund to make an impact with his new team. The Penguins need to grab every point they can down the stretch to solidify themselves in the playoff picture, and the new guy breaking out in a game where they absolutely have to take two points would be nice for the team.

Calgary Flames to beat Minnesota Wild 

On the outside looking in, the Calgary Flames continue to be the most frustrating team in the entire league this season. They’re top-five in almost every predictive metric in the public domain, but remarkably inconsistent. They’ve only won two of their last 10, but remain close to the fight for the wildcard despite that.

The Wild are the opposite, winners of eight of 10 despite being remarkably average, and winners of four straight entering this game. The Flames are also on the second-half of a back-to-back, but the big difference for the Flames lately is that Jacob Markström has awoken from his long slumber where he has been… terrible. The last couple games, the guy we saw last year has been back. Will the Flames make a run here?