Friday, April 06, 2007

Leafs and Habs stumble to the finish line

It's almost a case of I don't want it, you can have it, that the Leafs and Canadiens are involved in when it comes to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference of the NHL.

Thursday night both teams lost perfect opportunities to stake a claim to the final playoff spot for next weeks playoff derby.

Montreal was in New York City to take on the Rangers, with the Blue shirts looking to claim their own playoff spot for the first time in a few years the road to Stanley would prove to be elusive. The Rangers with their 3-1 victory will finish either sixth or seventh in the East, in an only in New York scenario, the Rangers win proved to be just the thing for their crosstown rivals the New York Islanders. With the Rangers defeating the Habs, the Islanders remain in the hunt for the final playoff spot in the conference.

The Islanders helped their own cause and helped the Canadiens to stay alive, as they defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 on Long Island.

The Islanders victory sets the stage for Saturday night when Montreal travels to Toronto to play the leafs at the Air Canada Centre. The Canadiens would be in the playoffs with a win or an overtime or shootout loss.

Should Toronto win, the Islanders could still leap frog ahead of them and take the final playoff spot, providing they win their remaining two games this weekend against New Jersey and Philadelphia.

It's surely a great thing for the league office to have so many teams still fighting for a final playoff berth and having things still up in the air with the final games almost in the stats books. Saturday night's Hockey Night in Canada should be a solid ratings winner for the CBC, ancient rivals battling it out for the chance to extend their season, all while they watch the scoreboard to see if the Islanders are coming up on the outside to steal away a spot.

A great weekend of hockey is on the way!

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