Now we have some movement. Some major shuffling last night in the NHL standings, as Detroit jumps to 6th in the West and the Philadelphia Flyers threaten to fall completely out of the playoff race as their goaltending issues continue to haunt them.
The Phoenix Coyotes continue to hum along, and are keeping pace with the San Jose Sharks who seem to have actually gotten back on track a bit. Amazingly, we also see the Dallas Stars make into the top ten of our standings as they take a peek at the playoff standings from over the fence.
Before we move on to the games that mattered, I’d like to make the quick observation that yesterday’s officiating throughout the NHL was horrid. This is the time of the year when there’s supposed to be good synergy between the referees and the players, as the intensity in every game amps up and with the officials generally allowing teams to play a good game.
Instead, we continue to see special teams contests as the most ticky tack of penalties are called every game.
It’s frustrating. Anyways, onto the playoff standings.
The games that mattered:
Pittsburgh Penguins 4, Philadelphia Flyers 1 - The Flyers goaltending situation would be funny if it weren’t so sad. With Jonas Backlund making his NHL debut, the rookie goaltending suffered a groin injury and forced Brian Boucher into the game. After a disallowed goal, the Flyers fell apart and the Penguins scored four unanswered goals.
Boston Bruins 5, Calgary Flames 0 - This was a big, big game for the Bruins and they didn’t disappoint. Perhaps bolstered by Marc Savard’s appearance before the game, it was the most inspired game by Boston in a long time.
Buffalo Sabres 7, Tampa Bay Lightning 1 - Don’t really need to worry about giving up that division lead after all.
Montreal Canadiens 2, New Jersey Devils 4 - Big win for the Devils, to maintain the tie breaker and division win over the Penguins. This is going to be a great race to the finish for the division title. No games remaining between the Pens and Devils the rest of the season, however. What up with that?
Carolina Hurricanes 0, Atlanta Thrashers 4 - I first though Atlanta would overcome the Bruins or Senators, but now it looks like they have a chance to take the Flyers out.
Toronto Maple Leafs 3, NY Rangers 2 - Great comeback win for the Leafs, who suddenly appear confident playing in front of a solid Jonas Gustavsson, who was facing his hero Henrik Lundqvist on the other side of the ice. Lundqvist allowed a soft goal in the final minutes, before Kulemin’s overtime goal won it. At least the Rangers got a point.
The games that mattered:
San Jose Sharks 4, Vancouver Canucks 2 - The Canucks may rely on home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs to get through, as they are completely incapable of winning on the road. Meanwhile, Joe Thornton’s injury has Sharks fans worried. I have no idea why, though.
Phoenix Coyotes 6, Colorado Avalanche 2 - Lee Stempniak scored -- of course he did! -- as well as Wojtek Wolski and Derek Morris. I’d say the trade deadline moves by the Coyotes paid off. Meanwhile, they are still right there behind the Sharks for the division lead. Think that final game of the regular season will be big?
Boston Bruins 5, Calgary Flames 0 - One big Calgary facepalm. Again.
Nashville Predators 0, Detroit Red Wings 1 - A double shutout, goaltending battle? An 11-round shootout? Yes please! Meanwhile, Jimmy Howard gets better every game.