John Tortorella, Rick Nash, Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle

Playoff picture: Rangers, Isles, and Jets fighting for final two spots


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.

Personal reasons: No Ovechkin for Caps tonight

Alex Ovechkin
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Alex Ovechkin won’t play for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday because of personal reasons, the team confirmed.

He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.

Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).

That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out

This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:

No, the Capitals have not shared details regarding what his “personal reasons” might be, by the way.

Bruins put Morrow on IR, bring up Cross

Brady Skjei, Joe Morrow
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Lower-level defense is not the biggest of many worries for the Boston Bruins, yet it might be another in a series of headaches.’s Joe Haggerty points out that Joe Morrow has been placed on IR while AHL stalwart Tommy Cross was called up.

With a -3 rating and negligible offensive impact so far, few will really be missing Morrow (pictured). From the way Haggerty describes Cross, it’s a pretty cool story if he gets into the lineup:

Cross was named captain of the Providence Bruins this season, and actually had a strong training camp as the hard-hitting, tough stay-at-home defenseman he’s developed into during his five years in the B’s minor league system. The 2007 second round pick was a highly regarded potential puck-moving defenseman when he was drafted prior to his Boston College career, but a series of knee injuries negated some of his speed and puck-moving capabilities.

Granted, the Bruins would prefer a sure-thing improvement over a feel-good story right now, as this 0-3-0 start marks their worst beginning in some time.

Injuries have been an issue in general, too, with Zdeno Chara‘s slow start mixed with Dennis Seidenberg on the mend and Brad Marchand in limbo.

The Bruins’ next game comes against the Avalanche in Colorado. Maybe they’ll start to mend things on the ice?