The home stretch of the NHL season has begun and there are just under two weeks left until the end of the regular season. Head injuries have been a dominant topic of conversation. Sidney Crosby still as yet to return to the Penguins, but rumors of him having to retire from his concussion have been vehemently denied. Then there was the Zdeno Chara incident when he hit Max Pacioretty of the Canadiens into a glass support and severely injuring his head and neck. The latest incident involves Penguins forward Matt Cooke, as he was suspended for the final 10 regular season games and entire first round of the playoffs for elbowing a New York Rangers defenseman. The GM’s met and have not decided on new rules for the game but the NHL is obviously becoming more vigilant about these incidents.
The playoffs races are very exciting; especially out west. Fourth place Phoenix and tenth place Calgary are only 4 points apart in the standings. This will go down to the wire and every game is starting to feel like it has that playoff atmosphere. Currently Dallas and Calgary are the two teams outside looking in at the moment, but they are tied with Anaheim with 85 points for the eighth and final playoff spot.
Back east, The New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres have solidified their holds on the seventh and eighth seed respectively. Carolina is currently 3 points back, Toronto is 5, Atlanta is 7 out, as are the New Jersey Devils. The Devils miracle run hit a snag with two consecutive losses to Ottawa and Washington and they will most likely have to win out to have a shot to make it. Still, a record of 24-5-2 so far in the second half is quite impressive and a positive thing to look at for the future.
NY Rangers 2011 Highlights
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This year’s playoffs are shaping up to be good, with so many teams close in the standings in both conferences; we can expect most of the match ups to produce an excellent opening round.
In non-hockey news, here’s a shout out to the New York Mets, goodbye Ollie, and good riddance.