Your weekly shot of hockey to go with your afternoon coffee
In 12 Days, we will know the matchups of the 2016 NHL Playoffs. In fact, many teams only have five games left. Let’s take a look at the races after the heat check:
Hottest Team: St Louis Blues (101 Pts, T-1 Central, 8-2 in Last 10 Games)
St. Louie has won five-straight and is now tied for 1st in the Central division. They closed out a STRONG month of March going 10-2 and allowed their first goal in nearly two weeks last night in a win over the Avs. Both the Blues and Stars have five games left, none against each other, three at home, and two on the road.
Runner Up: Pittsburgh Penguins (94 Pts) — Crosby is playing tremendously without Malkin on the ice. Phil Kessel is also coming into form with a few multi-point games last week. Pittsburgh has almost caught the Rangers for 2nd in the division but plays 4 of their last six games on the road while NYR plays four of their last six at home
OTHER: The Wild pulling away for the 2nd WC spot in the West.
Coldest Team: Boston Bruins (88 Pts, #3 Atlantic, 4-4-2 in Last 10 Games)
The Bruins could potentially miss the playoffs. Boston struggled through the end of March after starting the month off well. The good news is that they hold third over the Red Wings by a point and their final three games are in Boston. The bad news is that they have to travel to St. Louis and Chicago this weekend. Next Thursday’s game against the Red Wings may be the biggest matchup in the final stretch.
Runner Up: New York Islanders (91 Points) – Only three points out of third and a game in-hand isn’t the worst thing in the world; but the Islanders need to get it together before the playoffs start.
OTHERS: Tried to keep only playoff teams in here, but the Canucks have lost nine in a row, yikes.
What to Watch For This Week:
Every game matters now and with the gauntlet of games many teams will be playing over the next few days, the playoff picture could change multiple times. Aside from Flyers games (which we’ll get to), the only head-to-head (intra-conference) matchups between teams in the hunt are Penguins @ Islanders on Saturday and Lightning @ Islanders on Monday. What does this mean? A lot of scoreboard watching by both players and fans alike. If you have multiple TVs or a local bar that actually has access to hockey games, you may have found your activity for Saturday night.
In Case You Missed It:
The 2015-16 Philadelphia Flyers will leave me with a heart attack by the time this season ends. After watching last Tuesday’s game with @mattdestefano21, I didn’t know what to think. The rest of the week had its ups-and-downs as well: winning 4-2 in Colorado Thursday, then losing 2-1 in Arizona Saturday, followed by winning 3-2 in OT over the Jets at home Monday night. Stellar play from Mason has carried the Flyers recently and they will need him tonight against Washington. The one bright side is that since the Caps have clinched the President’s Trophy, they may not have as much to play for. Regardless, tonight is a chance for the Flyers to prove they belong in the postseason. Ghost, Braydo, and Simmer are getting more in the zone game after game, now we need Giroux and Voracek to follow suit as well. If Giroux’s OT winner is any indication, he may be well on his way. The Flyers week will end with back-to-back afternoon games Saturday at home against the Senators and Sunday in Pittsburgh.
Disagree? Let me know in the comments