After a quick stumble, the Rangers are right back where they want to be, atop the rankings and New York is absolutely in love with this team and their chances this year.
The stumble seems to have been just that, a little trip. The Rangers won all three of their games and are right back on top of the league standings and at this point, have to be considered the favorite to make a return to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Ducks quacked in reverse a little this week (You try not to lose to the Avalanche) and will probably no longer win the President’s trophy but could also end up not winning the Western conference regular season crown as well (I see you St. Louis.).
The Lightning have one big upper-hand on their division rival Canadiens. They are 5-0-0 against the Canadiens and that could be huge in a potential second round playoff clash.
Nashville fell a point behind St. Louis and if the standings hold they get to face the still-terrifying Blackhawks in the first round, and if the Preds aren’t up to that challenge, it’ll be a big “I told you so” moment for the remaining Predator skeptics.
Are we sure the Canadiens made the right decision to trade Jiri Sekac?
I at the very least was a believer, and as Carey Price’s biggest fan, I can’t say he and I are too happy with it right now.
St. Louis is right back on top of the Central division, which is… I guess where you want to be when you’re heading into the playoffs. The prospective matchup with the Wild is slightly less daunting than dealing with the tried-and-tested Blackhawks. Maybe…
All the Blackhawks care about right now is Patrick Kane… t-6 weeks till Kaner. Even if Kane isn’t healthy soon enough, the Hawks still have this guy.
Minnesota’s brutal stretch of games to close the season (home game against Winnipeg followed by matchups against each of the teams above them in their division) puts a lot of pressure on Devan Dubnyk to hold down the fort because if things go south these guys could have put in all that work for nothing and watching the postseason from home.
Could we say that Alex Ovechkin has a case as the best hockey player on the planet? Sure, many have shrugged it off in recent years because of his negligible effect on the game in an entire zone on the ice (spoiler, it’s the defensive zone) but it’s clear he’s vastly improved his defensive play. He’s just one point back of Crosby is easily the best goal scorer in the league, and at the end of the day, the name of the game is putting the puck in the back of the net.
As they work for their well-deserved playoff berth, they’re now fighting for the home-ice advantage they held for much of the season. That home, Nassau Coliseum, will be hosting its last regular season game against the Blue Jackets in the season finale.
Countdown to 96 points: 2-1-0 this week brings us to a 2-2-0 record over the final four to hit 96. I’m starting to doubt that 96 will be enough, since the Flames and Jets are playing like their playoff lives depend on it (They do.).
The Flames are a point ahead of the Kings for the last Pacific divisional playoff spot but the Kings have an extra game in hand. Not only are the Canucks, Flames, and Jets playing for their lives, but the Ducks are rooting for all of them just the same. We know what happened to the Ducks the last time they had to play the Kings…
The Canucks feel good going into the final trio of games with a playoff spot ALMOST locked up (Nothing is for sure in the West. Technically the Sharks could still make it…) and we don’t blame them. It’s hard not to feel good when your last two games are against the Coyotes and the Oilers.
Well just as we say the goaltending is becoming a problem, the Wings net minders show up and the offense forgets to take the ice. Keeping opponents to two goals is as much as you can ask for from your goalie and that’s just what they did in three of their four games this week (Mrazek gave up three in a loss to the Bruins), while the offense only mustered six goals over the four game span and Detroit dropped three of the four.
Andrew Hammond makes yet another appearance on “Who’s that handsome devil saying no to everyone?” posting a 3-0-1 record, a 1.63 GAA, and a 0.940 save percentage as the Senators desperately try to grab the final Eastern playoff spot.
And right on cue, a perfect week from the Bruins have them not only in the playoff picture, but actually tied with Detroit for a possible unprecedented divisional playoff spot. Great resilience from a team that seemed out of it just a few weeks ago. Ottawa is still glued to their tail though, so there’s still work to do.
Don’t look now, but this recent slump has slid the Penguins out of their divisional playoff spot and are now tied with Boston and Detroit with 95 points. With three games left, there’s a real chance that the Penguins, not the Bruins or Red Wings, could fall out of the race, replaced by the scorching Sens. Also, Sidney Crosby milestone:
The Jets are trying their absolute hardest to make the playoffs, facing hot pursuit from the Kings, which will be even more difficult because of Dustin Byfuglien’s suspension. They have no easy games left (at Minnesota, at St. Louis, at Colorado, and a home finale against the Flames, which Byfuglien will return for) and they realistically can’t afford to lose any of them.
This is getting really unfortunate for the brackets. Three more games up, three more good wins. Also, given Nick Foligno’s emergence this season, kind of surprising this was his first career hat trick.
As the playoffs fade away, did you know that there are less than 100 Florida panthers left in the wild? Tune in here for more…
Week seven of the “Shark Watch”…
(I know it’s actually a dingo but we’re going to pretend it’s a coyote.)
Terrifying Tyler is just so good it almost makes up for the fact that the guys that line up at the blue line and in goal are terrible.
The Flyers are busy playing the villain right now, already out of it and just messing with the Penguins who are now in the heat of the race to even make the playoffs. These Flyers beat the Pens twice last week (both 4-1 finishes).
I feel that a lot of Avalanche fans spend game nights watching Nathan MacKinnon highlights instead of the actual games. Next year guys, next year…
On the flipside, the Devils don’t have next year, they just have the memories of Ilya Kovalchuk and Marty Brodeur.
The silver lining for the Canes in a terrible season has to have been Justin Faulk’s improvement and the possible return to half the form that made the artist formerly known as Cam Ward a Stanley Cup champion.
Maybe if Jonathan Bernier did this a couple more times in the season the Leafs would be better… Then again, the Leafs have been on the receiving end of crap all year.
Five of the Oilers defensive corps against the Flames in their last game (a 4-0 loss) spent time with the Oilers AHL affiliate this season. It seems like that would bode well for the future of the franchise, but we’ve been saying that for years as “future stud after future stud” (Eberle, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Yakupov) have just not blossomed into the perennial superstars we expect.
Quietly, Oliver Ekman-Larsson is leading all defensemen in goal-scoring with 23 goals. He’s all they’ve got right now.
Sabres fans really would be crazy to not cheer against their team. There are three games left and the prospect of a generational player in Connor McDavid is so exciting for years to come. Just remember Sabres (the fans already know) Connor McDavid is the dream.
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