With football now firmly, and ever so depressingly, behind us, the sports world opens up for the NHL to take...stage right (let's face it, the NBA is center stage - sigh).  Pressing on, as any good hockey player would, however, we offer you a brief update on each of the local teams.

New York Rangers: Undoubtedly, the Rangers are the story of Northeastern hockey.  Alive in a way Blueshirt fans haven't seen in years, the team boasts one of the league's best line ups and, with a 3-0 triumph over the Bruins Tuesday night, sits atop the Conference.  They've reached February a contender for the President's cup, leaving historically fatalistic Ranger fans wondering what awful tragedy will soon befall the team.

Boston Bruins: The reigning Stanley Cup Champions are looking to repeat and, at this point in the season, look poised to make a run at it.  They sit second in the Eastern Conference, five points up from third, though nine points back of the Rangers.  Point difference means only so much in February though, the real hockey starts in April, a month in which Boston will certainly play a huge part.  They play Montreal and Winnipeg to round out this week.

New Jersey Devils: The Devils have been firing on every possible cylinder since the All-Star break, pulling themselves into playoff position and looking to improve.  Their 4-1 win over the Sabres on Tuesday night, highlighted by three goals in the third period, was impressive and propelled the Devils forward toward a should-win game against the Ducks on Friday.

New York Islanders: The young talent the Islanders have tried to build upon just hasn't materialized this year, as the oft-forgotten team from the Island sits six points out of the final playoff spot.  They need to start playing markedly better if they look to make a run to the playoffs.  They picked up an important two points with a win over the Jets Tuesday night, but a battle with the Blues, a surprising top-five team, looms.

Buffalo Sabres: Oy.  The Western New York team that was pegged, by many, as a Stanley Cup favorite have been ravaged by injury this year.  Hell, even coach Lindy Ruff fell victim, breaking three ribs during a freak accident in practice last week.  They've lost two in a row, sit in the cellar of the Eastern Conference - ahead of only Carolina - and are staring down a meeting with an unquestionably angry Flyer team on Thursday.  Well...at least it's not snowing as much in Buffalo...you've got that going for ya.  Nice?