NHL Playoff Push: Are Penguins the team to finally solve Flames?

Paul Byron and Max Pacioretty scored two each, Patrick Kane cannot be stopped and Joe Pavelski led the Sharks to another win.

Mondays are usually light nights on the NHL schedule but that isn’t the case this week with eight games on the slate.

Let’s take a closer look at where things stand in the playoff race.


If the season ended today…

(M1) vs. (WC2)

(A1) vs. (WC1)

(M2) vs. (M3)

(A2) vs. (A3)

Here’s what the Eastern Conference standings look like today:

What’d I miss?

Over the weekend, we saw the Toronto Maple Leafs extend their winning streak to leapfrog the New York Islanders who fell to the St. Louis Blues. The Columbus Blue Jackets lost to the Buffalo Sabres but a more significant loss was Ryan Murray. The defenceman will miss four to six weeks with a broken hand.

The Washington Capitals are struggling and losers of four in a row. They were spanked by the Anaheim Ducks Sunday and they’ll be without Kevin Shattenkirk for one more contest after the trade deadline acquisition was suspended two games for a hit on Los Angeles Kings defenceman Kevin Gravel that occurred Saturday.

The Philadelphia Flyers lost a heartbreaker to the Boston Bruins—Drew Stafford put the Bruins up 2-1 with six seconds remaining in regulation—to all but shatter Philly’s post-season hopes.

Fun fact

Monday’s game to watch: Penguins vs. Flames

There’s no team hotter than the Calgary Flames at the moment. Winners of nine straight, the Flames have gone 15-2-1 in the past 18 games and are just two points behind the Ducks for second in the Pacific with one game in hand. In order to secure a double-digit winning streak, though, they’ll have to get by the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are on a five-game streak of their own.

It’s a hugely important game for the Penguins, who can leapfrog the Capitals for top spot in the East. The defending Stanley Cup champions have gone 3-0 so far on their Western Canadian road trip, beating the Jets in a physical affair, edging the Oilers in a barnburner and blanking the Canucks.

Solving Brian Elliott is imperative if they’re to make it a clean sweep of Western Canada. Elliott has won his past nine starts, blanked his past two opponents and is currently riding a shutout streak of 128:28.



If the season ended today…

(C1) vs. (WC2)

(P1) vs. (WC1)

(C2) vs. (C3)

(P2) vs. (P3)

Here’s what the Western Conference standings look like today:

What’d I miss?

This isn’t what teams in the West want to hear at this time of year, but the Chicago Blackhawks appear to be in post-season form. Joel Quennville’s group beat the first-place Minnesota Wild Sunday to pull within one point of the Central Division lead.

The Oilers fell to the Canadiens while their Pacific Division rivals Flames, Kings, Ducks and Sharks all picked up wins.

Fun fact

Monday’s game to watch: Blues vs. Kings

This one barely edged the anticipated Avalanche-Coyotes showdown, obviously. St. Louis and L.A. are battling for the final wild card spot in the West but the Blues also have the opportunity to catch Nashville for third in the Central. The Blues shut out the Kings 1-0 on Oct. 29 and the Kings got payback Jan. 12 in the form of a 5-1 win. Monday’s game will determine the season series and if the two were to be tied after 82 games the season series could potentially serve as a tie-breaking method to see which team gets into the playoffs.

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