The Toronto Maple Leafs had a chance to clinch a playoff spot last night when they traveled to D.C to take on the Washington Capitals. But instead of getting up for the game that would see them in the playoffs for the first time since 2004, the Leafs laid an egg and now will have to wait until Thursday when they can possibly clinch a berth at home. Losing badly by a 5-1 score to the Caps, who remain hot by winning their ninth straight, the Leafs remain almost a sure thing to get into the postseason.
Ben Scrivens was peppered with 39 shots and allowed five goals, including a rocket of a one-timer by Alex Ovechkin. Not many goalies would have made that save but regardless of that goal, ,Scrivens didn’t exactly garner gushing loads of confidence from Leafs’ fans that he is capable of taking this team on a playoff run if something should happen to James Reimer. How often do you think we’ll hear the name Roberto Luongo if the Leafs’ goaltending struggles in the playoffs?
The Winnipeg Jets added to the Leafs misery last night by defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 in a shootout. The win for the Jets prevented the Leafs from clinching but also kept their own playoff hopes alive as they pulled even with the eighth place New York Rangers. With one less game remaining the Jets will need to likely win four out of their last five to make the dance and earn a date with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sounds like fun.
The Rangers were dealt a huge blow last night, losing 4-2 to the pesky Philadelphia Flyers. As mentioned the Rangers do have one game in hand on the Jets, but what will happen in the Big Apple if this Rangers team didn’t make the postseason? This was a team that was picked by many to win the Stanley Cup this year and now they may not have the chance to play for it. John Tortorella, get your resume dusted off.
While the Rangers are busy trying to figure out their identity late in the year, their sister team, the New York Islanders are rolling right along and are ready to punch their own ticket to the postseason dance. Often referred to as “the other New York team” the Islanders are earning bushels of respect and could finally step out of the shadow that has cast them as the lil’ sister to the Rangers. The Islanders continued their stellar play with a 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers and over the last ten the soon to be Brooklyn team has a record of 7-1-2. They currently sit in seventh place in the east, just one point back of the sixth place Senators.
Ottawa avoided falling to seventh with a win of their own last night by beating the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. The Sens have defied the odds all season long since losing Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson to long-term injuries by winning crucial games, staying competitive and remaining in the playoff picture. With both players close to a return, the Senators could be a great sleeper pick in the playoffs this year.
Out west, the Oilers are playing some awful hockey lately. Chalk up another loss to the Minnesota Wild, this time by a 5-3 score and while you’re at it, chalk up another wasted season in Edmonton. This team has done nothing to right the ship and finally fired Steve Tambellini. But is Craig MacTavish the answer as GM? Only time will tell and even at that he won’t have much of it. Oiler fans are tired of hearing the same song and dance – “with the rebuild we need patience.” It’s been five years and what do they have to show for it? Nothing. The Blackhawks won the cup in less time it took them to rebuild, let alone making the playoffs.
What got into the San Jose Sharks? Ever since the trade deadline this team has been on a mission and it’s carried them right into the playoffs. They are 7-2-1 over their last ten including a 3-2 shootout win over the Los Angeles Kings last night in what was a battle for home ice in the first round. That could be one of the best first round matchups this year.
But the St. Louis Blues are trying to ruin that by jockeying for position in the west. Sitting just three points back of fourth ,the Blues defeated the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 in a shootout to keep the hope alive that they too could secure home ice in the first round.
Stay tuned, it’s going to be a wild finish to the regular season over the next twelve days with a lot still to be decided.
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