Thursday, April 05, 2007

Hockey Night in New York

All three teams chasing the eighth and final playoff spot will be playing in the state of New York. Two teams will be playing on Long Island as the Leafs (89 PTS 80GP) visit the Islanders (86 PTS 79GP). After keeping themselves in the playoff picture on the basis of their excellent road record the Leafs have slumped over the past month with a 1-5-2 on the road. The Islanders are 3-3-2 in their last 8 home games but I keep having nightmares about the first round matchup between the two teams when the Leafs struggled on Long Island.

The Leafs have a 1-0-2 record against the Islanders this year including two shootout losses in which DiPietro was the difference in the game. And if his absence gives Leafs Nation any sens of calm I would dispell it by pointing out that Wade Dubielewicz made 36 saves against the Rangers and the Leafs have made mediocre goalies look great at times this year. Mats Sundin is in the midst of a goal-scoring slump with only 1 goal in his last 18. While he has been racking up the assists (16 in those 18 games) and helping Poni and Antro score goals and he has been killing penalties (huge 5-on-3 kill Tuesday) now is the time for him to regain his scoring touch.

Meanwhile, the Habs travel to Manhattan to take on the Rangers. The Rangers have been great at home since the beginning of March as they have rolled to a 6-1-1 record while only allowing 11 goals in those 8 games. The Rangers are 2-1-0 against the Habs this year but have won the only game at Madison Square Garden. Luckily the Rangers did not clinch Tuesday night and in fact, with a pair of losses to end the season, they could still miss the playoffs. A win tonight would clinch a playoff spot and allow them a couple of extra days to rest any lingering injuries.

It's 10:30 and I already feel sick and cannot think of anything else. GO LEAFS GO!

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