It feels as though this season just got started and now here we are with less than ten games remaining for the NHL clubs. With the playoffs within sight, the top eight are becoming a little more clear with some teams continuing to push to securing a postseason birth while others are starting to fade.
One of those teams that is fading quickly are the Edmonton Oilers. After dropping three straight on the road the Oilers returned home to take on the Phoenix Coyotes, a game that was critical to both clubs and their chances to make the playoffs.
Despite producing 30 shots on goal, the Oilers dropped the ever important game 3-1 to the Coyotes and the misery of their losing streak continues to four games. Edmonton remains four points back of the Detroit Red Wings while Phoenix sits now just one back for the final spot in the west. It’s life support for the Oilers who have just eight games left and with now four teams that they need to surpass, a seventh season with no playoff hockey in Edmonton is becoming reality.
The New Jersey Devils are also on life support when it comes to their playoff hopes after dropping a 5-4 decision to the Boston Bruins last night. The loss was the Devils eighth straight and like the Oilers they remain four points back of eighth with only eight games to play. The good news for the Devils is they only have to pass the Winnipeg Jets and catch either the New York Rangers, New York Islanders or Ottawa Senators. They better start winning immediately or they too will have a long spring to think about what could have been.
The win for the Bruins was bittersweet as they lost forward Brad Marchand after taking an elbow to the head from the Devils’ Anton Volchenkov. The Devils defenseman who is a repeat offender will face a discipline hearing today and a suspension is likely. The win vaults the Bruins into second place in the east, one point ahead of their rival Montreal Canadiens.
Before the game yesterday we learnt that the Bruins had finally come to terms with Swedish sensation Carl Soderberg on a NHL contract and the rugged forward is expected to be ready for the Bruins playoff push. With the loss of Marchand for an unknown period of time, Soderberg could find himself thrown into the fire on the second line. It’ll be interesting to see how he transitions to the North American style of play after spending the past several seasons playing in the Swedish Elite League.
Hold your breath Maple Leafs fans, but it looks as though you’ll get to see your team in the playoffs this year. Despite losing 3-2 to the New York Rangers in a shootout last night, the single point the Leafs attained puts them seven up on the Winnipeg Jets who sit in ninth place. Yes anything is possible and the Maple Leafs are known for their late season collapse, but surely not even they will blow this type of lead this late in the year again…..will they?
For the Rangers, the two points was vital to their chances of making the spring dance who are now tied for sixth place.
The upset of the night came in Anaheim where the Ducks were beaten by the last place Colorado Avalanche 4-1. It was the first game the Avs played since netminder J.S. Giguere ripped his teammates for not caring about playing in games this late in the season with nothing to play for. Giguere did get the start in net and it was a pleasant surprise to see the Avs put together a solid game in front of the veteran goalie. It could have been easy for the young squad to quit on Giguere after his comments, but alas the professionalism shone through.
Another big night on the ice tonight with nine games on tap, all with playoff implications on the line.