Well it has been a busy few days of news in the NHL! Steve Stamkos continues to score at a torrid pace, the Pacific Division continues to intrigue, and of course the Sabres and Capitals are making it interesting for all fans of the Eastern Conference! Here’s some Mid-Week Musings about what’s catching my eye here in the last week of the regular season.
-No Kidding for Sid: Well the second comeback of the season for Pens’ captain Sidney Crosby has been a tad successful wouldn’t you say! Let’s not even mention the ‘C’ word…I’m sure we’ve all had enough discussion on Crosby’s head and neck issues for a lifetime. But the story here is how incredible #87 has been since March 15th. In 12 games since that date, Crosby has 22 points (5 goals, 17 assists). He leads all NHL players in points in that time – just ahead of teammate Evgeni Malkin’s 21 points. How would you like to be the opposing goalie that has to face those two in the playoffs?!
-Stammering to 60: I’ve written a few times in the past month about Steve Stamkos – but how couldn’t I?! The kid is having one of the great goal-scoring season’s in ages. He has 58 snipes as I write here, and with three games to go for the Lightning, he may just eclipse 60! I spoke with Stamkos in Ottawa at the NHL All-Star Game, and I know for a fact that he would trade the personal stats for a playoff appearance – it’s just the type of team guy he is. That’s the big shame in his incredible season here – the Bolts will of course miss the playoffs, which will sting for #91 – but if Stammer gets to 60 – he should be very proud indeed.
-88′s are Wild: Well with 80 games played each – both the Sabres and Capitals are perched on 88 points in the Eastern Conference playoff race. With all other East invitations decided for the ‘big playoff dance’, these two teams are fighting it out hammer and tongs for the eighth seed. The Sabres play Philly Thursday, and the Bruins Saturday (both on the road), to round out their season. The Capitals have Florida at home Thursday, and finish off at MSG Saturday against the Rangers. Neither team has a ‘cake-walk’ – you may just want to flip a coin here! But there is a nagging feeling that neither team is quite right – the Sabres are really banged up, and the Caps have never gotten off the ground in this campaign. Whoever makes it, could just be winning the chance to be first-round fodder for the Rangers. Either way – makes it interesting for us watching down the stretch.
-Pacific Heights: The Pacific Division has provided some of the best moments in the last few weeks of the regular season. It’s a veritable log-jam! The Kings and Coyotes with 93 points, currently lead the group, followed by the Sharks (92 points), and Stars (89 points). The big prize here is the third seed in the West for winning the division. L.A. currently holds that mantle (for having a better head-to-head record vs. Phoenix). All of these clubs have two games remaining in their schedule – so stay tuned – anything could happen when the dust settles late Saturday night. The key for us all to be zeroing in on – the Kings and Sharks play a home-and-home series on Thursday and Saturday – will be fun to watch – and intense would be an understatement!
With less than a week to go in the NHL regular season, the playoff chase is coming down to the wire! It’s a great time of year to be a fan, and it’s always interesting to see the break down of the seeds and match-ups in both conferences. Good luck to your team if they are on the bubble – and next stop the post-season!
You can follow Murph on Twitter throughout the NHL playoffs @MurphOnIce