College of Sports Media Game of the Night:
We’re getting to the point in the NHL season where most teams have ten games or less before the start of the post season. The Washington Capitals have 106 points (16 ahead of second place in the East) and are the only team to stake their claim at a spot in the extra season. For anyone else with playoff aspirations there are some serious log jams to maneuver. There are ten games on the docket tonight and in the West there are three teams vying for the conference crown. Starting in Chicago the winner of tonight’s game between the Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes tonight will wake up the leaders of the West tomorrow morning. Yes you read that correctly….the Phoenix Coyotes. The Coyotes have won nine straight games and are tied with the Blackhawks atop the West with 97 points. If a playoff run can’t get fans into the stands in the desert then they don’t deserve a team out there. The San Jose sharks led the West for most of the season, but have dropped six straight and are one point behind the two leaders. They’re in Minnesota tonight looking for a w to stay within a point of the top.
In the East the situation is no different, other then the Capitals of course. The New Jersey Devils can pull into a a tie with the Pittsburgh Penguins for second in the conference and atop the Atlantic division with a win over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets. The fifth seeded Ottawa Senators snapped a losing skid last night with a 2-0 win over the Montreal Canadians. Tonight the host the sixth place Philadelphia Flyers, who trail the Sens by only two points. Philly’s forwards will have to step it up as they’ll need to try and replace the offensive output of leading scorer Jeff Carter, who’s out with an injury for 3-4 weeks. As of right today the Boston Bruins hold down the eighth and final spot in the East with 76 points. That may change tonight as their in Atlanta to take on the Thrashers. The Thrashers have ripped off four straight wins and trail the Bruins by a single point. The Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet…but there’s no chance they’ll see any postseason play. Nonetheless, they are one of the hottest teams in the East and trail the Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders by only four points. The Leafs host the Florida Panthers tonight at the ACC.