The Islanders' season may be done but the hockey season remains, and as a die hard hockey fan I will milk this season for all that it has. The playoff seedings this season came down to the last weeks, days, and games of the season moving teams all around the standings some for the better (Phoenix Coyotes) and some for the worse (Buffalo Sabres). The final seedings were decided and the 2011-12 playoff matchups were set. (Photo Credit: Ice Insiders, Ryan Boyd)
The Eastern Conference matchups are as follows the New York Rangers (1) vs. the Ottawa Senators (, the Boston Bruins (2) vs. the Washington Capitals (7), the Florida Panthers (3) vs. the New Jersey Devils (6) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (4) vs. the Philadelphia Flyers (5). So far three of the four series are tied at one game a piece and the game that is not tied is quite possibly the bigges surprise in the Easern Conference.
In their only meeting of the regular season this year the Blackhawks will take on the Washington Capitals. The Capitals have not had the kind of year that is normal for them and have struggled along with their superstar Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin still is leading him team in points with 53 29 goals and 24 assists.
The Capitals (36-29-6) are currently hanging onto eighth place in the east with the Winnipeg Jets breathing down their necks in the ninth spot only just two points behind. The Capitals also are coming off of a 3-2 loss to the Jets. So the Capitals come into this game desperately wanting to win and collect points to stay ahead in last playoff spot.
The Islanders, who have been struggling more than usual as of late, will play host tonight for their sixth and final meeting of the season with the Philadelphia Flyers. The Islanders go into tonight's game on a four game skid, blowing leads in the three most recent losses, the Flyers however come to Long Island with a 6-1 record in March, the first of those wins came against the Islanders on March 1st. Philadelphia leads the season series 3-2, including wins in both previous trips to the Coliseum. (Photo Credit: CSN Philly/Sarah Baicker)
The Islanders are 11 points out of eighth place with only twelve games left to play meaning that a playoff bid is looking highly improbable for the young squad. They lack a key component to being a playoff caliber team, consistency. That was evident in their last three losses, they had the lead in all three games and only managed two points, losing once in overtime and once in a shootout.
The stage was set for an emotional carry over into Saturday morning regardless of the outcome of Friday night's Islanders/Rangers game; a win for the Isles against their biggest rival and top team in the Eastern Conference would keep their playoff hopes alive, but a loss to their number one foe would have been a crushing blow to their confidence and chances.
Fortunately, the orange and blue would come on top with a 4-3 shootout victory with Matt Moulson netting the finally tally in the fourth round.
Tensions were high at the start of the game and Matt Martin decided to ease things up a bit by fighting Stu Bickel just over two minutes into the game. Both got their licks in before Martin swung and missed, falling to the ice to end the fight early. A fair draw would set the tone for how evenly the game would be played.
The New York Islanders went from potential playoff contenders to looking towards next season within 48 hours earlier this week.
Having the best team in the Eastern Conference coming into your building after being shutout in their last game, isn’t what the doctor ordered.
After two terrible performances against Ottawa and Buffalo on Monday and Tuesday, the Islanders welcome in their cross-river rivals the New York Rangers on Friday Night.
The Rangers are leading the Eastern Conference with 81 points, 7 points ahead of both New Jersey and Boston. They travel to Long Island after being blanked by the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-0 on Tuesday night. Henrik Lundqvist continued his stellar play making 29 saves in the losing effort. After an 8-1-1 stretch, the Rangers have lost two of their last three games.
Ah New York, New York “I'm gonna make a brand new start of it In old New York. If I can make it there, I'd make it anywhere Come on, come through, New York, New York.” – Kander/Ebb lyrics
And make it there the Hawks certainly did. This game had everything, Two Original Six teams meeting who don’t normally see each other, historic Madison Square Garden and ey New Yawkers in the stands. If that was not enough to stir the blood, you had the classic offence versus defense and two teams on different trajectories.
I was not sure what to expect in this one except the Hawks had nothing to lose. What I was pleasantly surpris...
When you think of the New York Islanders and associate the word "injury" to their name, you automatically think of all the man-games lost by this team over the past few years and immediately think of the infamous Rick DiPietro. But right now, the injury bug is starting to bite in places other than the 15-year man's knees.
Brian Rolston was placed on the Injured Reserve retroactive to Dec 15th due to a concussion he sustained during the team's 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars this passed Thursday. He left the game and did not return and has not played since.This has allowed Nino Niederreiter to return to the line-up without their having to be any major changes to the roster.
Other players, like Tim Wallace, have been getting extra playing time as well. Although Wallace has previous NHL experience with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he really hasn't been all that impressive.
It wasn't news to anyone that the NHL would be setting up a new realignment plan for the 2012-2013 season. Plenty of speculation went into this idea as to how it would effect the current Eastern and Western Conferences. The Winnipeg Jets, although presently in the East, seemed to be a team that would make much more sense in the West. Rumors began to run that the Detroit Red Wings would move to the Eastern Conference, or even quite possibly the Nashville Predators.
The bigger question, and one that still looms over the hearts of many fans out in the desert, is whether or not the Phoenix Coyotes will still be in any Conference next year. They are currently in what seems to be the final year of their lease agreement after almost being relocated this past summer. There's still a good possibility that they might be relocated in the near future as well, but all of that remains in limbo as the 2012 season moves forward.
However, the NHL and it's Board of Governors could not wait to see what happens in Phoenix and passed a very dramatic change to the current alignment. The Eastern and Western Conferences will ultimately be removed next year; the standard two conferences that consist of 15 teams will become four conferences with either seven or eight teams in each one.
For some reason, there was an explosion of NHL realignment talk and it was all concerning the Winnipeg Jets (obviously) and the Detroit Red Wings.
Bob McKenzie of TSN has said that Detroit has first dibs to move to the Eastern Conference, with Winnipeg moving West:
"More and more NHL governors convinced Detroit will be moving to Southeast Division in Eastern Conference when realignment done in early December. If Detroit goes to SE (East), it's plausible and possible ...