Despite Recent Woes – Rangers Still Best of Local NHLers
Despite a rough week, the Rangers became the second team to clinch a playoff birth on Monday and though their conference lead is tenuous, they still sit atop the Eastern Conference and the local NHL teams – many of whom stumbled into Wednesday. @JoeBianchinoNew York Rangers: The Rangers have not been playing good hockey of late. As their discipline has failed them, so too has the scoreboard. Recent woes being what they are, however, the Rangers became the only Eastern Conference side to secure a playoff spot with their fight-filled win over the Devils on Monday. It was their only win of the week and with four games between now and next Wednesday, the road isn’t getting easier for the Blue Shirts. Still, for the first time in years, Ranger fans won’t head into the last day of the regular season unsure if their team will find their way into the chase for Lord Stanley’s Cup…So they’ve got that going for them…Which is nice.
Boston Bruins: The Bruins finally finished a week over .500, and they did so with an emphatic exclamation point – crushing the Leafs to the tune of 8-0. Perhaps the week signaled a turnaround for the defending champs, who still find themselves ten points behind the Rangers, and only three points atop their division. They’ll begin a tough, West coast swing on Thursday night against the Sharks, before returning home to play Tampa Bay.
New Jersey Devils: The Devils’ winning ways finally slowed a bit as they suffered back to back defeats to the Rangers and Penguins – not to mention the three fights they lost at the start of Monday’s Ranger game. The losses were bookended by wins, however, keeping them at .500 on the week and in playoff position. It’s a bunched bottom half of the playoff scenario, though, as the Devils sit only five points clear of ninth place. They’ll play three games this week, including a showdown with the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins.
Buffalo Sabres: In an odd twist of events, the Sabres’ march toward the playoffs took both a step forward and a step back this week. The Sabres finished the week with only one win in three games, however they managed to pull two points closer to the final playoff spot. Buffalo now sits only one game out of eighth place and will finish this week in direct confrontation with the team they chase – the Washington Capitals.
New York Islanders: Good news? The Islanders finished the week above .500 with two wins in three games. Bad news? They’re still the New York Islanders and are still 14th out of 15 teams in the Eastern Conference. They’ll play two of the conference’s best this week as they approach the merciful end of another disappointing Islander season.