The New York Rangers made the playoff race a lot more interesting with last night’s 4-2 loss in Philadelphia. Add Winnipeg’s shootout win over Tampa Bay and the Islanders’ 5-2 destruction of Florida, and here’s how the standings look in the Eastern Conference:
The Isles have five games remaining, all of them on the road — @ Toronto, @ Winnipeg, @ Carolina, @ Philadelphia, @ Buffalo.
The Rangers have a slightly easier slate — Florida, @ Buffalo, New Jersey, @ Florida, @ Carolina, New Jersey.
And here’s what the Jets are facing — Carolina, Islanders, @ Buffalo, @ Washington, Montreal.
Winnipeg could also still catch Washington for the Southeast Division title, though that seems unlikely the way the Caps have been playing.
Saturday’s game at the MTS Centre between the Jets and Isles looms large.
Also interesting to watch will be how all those non-playoff teams perform in a potential spoiler role. For example, we imagine the Devils wouldn’t mind being responsible for the Rangers missing the postseason.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.