With the NHL regular season drawing to a close on would expect the playoff picture to start to settle itself out.
The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils both got critical victories Sunday night, throwing the playoff picture into even more confusion.
Let's kick off with the New Jersey Devils, who's overtime victory over the New York Islanders last night put them a minuscule six points out of a playoff berth. There are now four teams six points out of eighth place, and five teams out of seventh place.
The Devils, who are on a massive 8-2-0 tear in their last 10 games, have forced their way back into playoff talks; and seem poised to do the impossible. New Jersey will play Atlanta, Ottawa, Washington, Columbus and Boston in its next five games. That will be a critical stretch in which the Devils will play three Eastern teams who are all in the playoff talks.
Next 5 Games
|Atlanta||Tue 03/15||7:00 PM EDT|
|@ Ottawa||Thu 03/17||7:30 PM EDT|
|Washington||Fri 03/18||7:00 PM EDT|
|@ Columbus||Sun 03/20||5:00 PM EDT|
|@ Boston||Tue 03/22||7:00 PM EDT|
Last 5 Games
|New York Islanders||Sat 03/12||OT - W 3 - 2|
|@ Atlanta||Fri 03/11||OT - W 3 - 2|
|Ottawa||Tue 03/08||L 1 - 2|
|@ New York Islanders||Sun 03/06||SO - W 3 - 2|
|Pittsburgh||Fri 03/04||OT - W 2 - 1|
The Rangers, on the other hand, are not gunning for a playoff spot. Instead, they are desperately trying to hold onto the one they current have.
New York did themselves a big favor by winning last night's bout with the San Jose Sharks, pushing themselves four points clear of the Carolina Hurricanes, and two points above the Buffalo Sabres (despite both teams holding at least a game in hand).
With the Hurricanes recent two-game losing streak, the Rangers have been able to forge more points ahead of Carolina, then the Hurricanes can make up with games in hand.
If the Rangers can keep up their good play (three wins in their last four games), they can continue to make space between themselves and the fighters.
It would appear that the Rangers won't be able to catch Montreal (seven points up with a game in hand) for sixth place, but they can hold the position they have.
Anyway you slice it, this year's playoff picture is pretty crazy. And It doesn't appear as though it will get any more sane either.
Next 5 Games
|New York Islanders||Tue 03/15||7:00 PM EDT|
|Montreal||Fri 03/18||7:00 PM EDT|
|@ Pittsburgh||Sun 03/20||12:30 PM EDT|
|Florida||Tue 03/22||7:00 PM EDT|
|Ottawa||Thu 03/24||7:00 PM EDT|
Last 5 Games
|@ San Jose||Sat 03/12||SO - W 3 - 2|
|@ Anaheim||Wed 03/09||L 2 - 5|
|Philadelphia||Sun 03/06||W 7 - 0|
|@ Ottawa||Fri 03/04||W 4 - 1|
|Minnesota||Thu 03/03||L 1 - 3|