Here are the things we know, as of Thursday night:
- The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins clinched the top two spots in the Metropolitan Division. The Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, meanwhile, are one and two in the Atlantic.
- The Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers are primed for a potentially dramatic three-team race for the two playoff spots that haven’t been decided.
- For the first time ever, the New York Islanders swept their season series against the New York Rangers.
Now, sweeping the Rangers pushed the Islanders to the third spot in the Metro, but they’re definitely not cemented in that spot.
Instead, the two teams are locked at 99 standings points, only the Isles hold a game in hand over the Rangers. Want to see it visually? Why not:
Now, the natural reaction for many is “Would you really want to win this race?” The third seed faces the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins while the top wild card squad takes on the Florida Panthers.
Then again, if it’s more important to finish on a hot streak, the Islanders seem like they’re doing the right thing.