Your weekly shot of hockey to go with your afternoon coffee
Well it started with a busy Tuesday two weeks ago but the Flyers kept accumulating points. I thought I had put two and two together as you NEVER mess with a streak. But then it happened, the Flyers lost to the Penguins last Saturday, so now I write again. More on that later in the Flyers update, let’s look elsewhere around the league. The standings in each division are starting to see the final pushes towards the postseason. Wild Card races are heating up and division seeding is beginning to become interesting.
Hottest Team: Pittsburgh Penguins (88 Pts, #3 Metropolitan, 8-2 in Last 10 Games)
While Pittsburgh gave a shellacking to the Flyers on Saturday, they gave equally as large of one to the Caps on Sunday. Pittsburgh’s +25 goal differential has been rapidly moving from deep in the red since around a month ago. The only knock you can give them in the “longer-term” of this season is that Malkin won’t return until maybe the second round of the playoffs.
Runner Up: St. Louis Blues (93 Pts) — STL was never really out of the playoff discussion, the Blues had just seemed to be the inevitable 3-Seed in the powerful Central Division. Now having won seven of their last ten games and overtaking second place from Chicago, the Blues are only two points behind the Stars.
OTHERS: The Preds inching towards the Blackhawks; Colorado and Minnesota surging at the West’s 2nd WC spot.
Coldest Team: New York Islanders (85 Pts, #4 Metropolitan, 4-4-2 in Last 10 Games)
A month ago, the two New York teams were jockeying for 2nd place in the division by them selves. Now, the Isles sit three points out of 3rd and only three points ahead of the Flyers. The Isles have been shaky on the road but are normally good at home; they’ll play seven of their final 11 games at home.
Runner Up: The Atlantic Division — No team in that division has won more the five of their last ten games. Metropolitan teams are now overtaking Atlantic teams in points whereas a few months ago, it looked like the Met wouldn’t be able to hang around.
OTHERS: Blackhawks and Rangers sliding comparatively to the aforementioned division-mates mentioned on the “hot” side.
What to Watch For This Week:
A number of different games with playoff implications this week. Tonight (Tuesday), we’ll have the Stars taking on the Blackhawks in Chicago. While both teams haven’t been as dominant as they had been, this game is still in Chi-town: Blackhawks over Stars. The other two to check out involve the Penguins this weekend. Saturday afternoon, the Pens will be in Detroit for a game with HUGE implications for both teams as well as the Flyers. The Pens then travel to MSG Sunday night for a showdown with the Rangers, a game that could be the tiebreaker for 2nd in the Met. With how hot the Pens are on the road recently, it’s tough to go against them. It’s tough to win back-to-back: Pens over Red Wings, Rangers over Pens.
THE FLYERS are getting there. As I mentioned earlier, the last time we checked in the team had moved into 9th place and got hot having gone 6-2-1 in that span. Ghost has made a legitimate case for the Calder Trophy and puck is finding the back of the net more and more often as they’ve score an average of 3.44 goals per game since they bottomed-out in mid-February (last 16 games; compared to the 2.62 goals per goal this season). The team plays four games this week (at Columbus tonight, at Colorado on Thursday, at Arizona on Saturday night, and at home against Winnipeg on Monday) for probably the easiest part of their remaining schedule. Every point matters from here on in. If Steve Mason can play like he did last night in Brooklyn, the Neuvirth injury may not be as big a blow as it originally been thought.
Disagree? Let me know in the comments