Monday, March 26, 2007

The Serious Six -- March 26

And here is how they stand this morning . . .

6. NY Rangers: 39-28-9 (87)
7. Tampa Bay: 41-31-4 (86)
8. Carolina: 38-29-8 (84)
9. NY Islanders: 36-27-12 (84)
10. Montreal: 39-31-6 (84)
11. Toronto: 36-29-10 (82)

The Rangers leapfrogged Tampa Bay with a 2-1 overtime win over the Islanders yesterday, and the lost point kept the Isles from moving into the top eight over idle Carolina.

Henrik Lundqvist stopped 34 of 35 shots to get the win and the game’s first star. It was the third straight 2-1 victory over the Islanders by the Rangers, the difference this time being that Petr Prucha did not have the game-winner as he did in the previous two meetings. Michael Nylander netted the winner on a redirect of a feed by Brendan Shanahan in the last minute of the extra session to send the Rangers home winners.

Impact games today: none (all teams idle).

As the six teams take a breather, what lies ahead? If you were to look at the schedules, it appears Tampa Bay has the easiest road to the top-eight. Among their seven remaining games, four are at home (although the Lightning have a rather ordinary 20-16-1 home record). Moreover, the Lightning have three remaining games against also-rans – two against Florida, one against Washington (8-4-1 against those teams this year).

The Islanders might have the hardest row to hoe here. Four of their remaining seven games are at home, where they have been moderately successful (20-11-6, eighth in the East in home record), but five games come against teams higher in the standings (6-10-3 against these teams). The Islanders are the only club in the Serious Six that have a below-.500 record this season against their remaining opponents.