NEW YORK, NY – Let’s face it; you should be watching the NHL right now. By Monday your March Madness bracket will be in tatters and you’ll be watching terrible college basketball for another few weeks, with no skin in the game. Kansas is going to win it all… Professional basketball around these parts is no better. The Knicks and Nets are out of it and playing for the lottery. Although the Knicks can’t even do that right… Meaningful baseball is still a few weeks away. So why not dive into the NHL? The playoff race is heating up and there’s plenty to play for over the last dozen or so games of the regular season.
The Rangers are sitting pretty in the first Wild Card slot in the east, 13 points ahead of the Lighting and Fishsticks who are behind the Maple Leafs who currently hold the final Wild Card spot. But the Rangers will have to be careful over the next few weeks. Henrik Lundqvist is out for at least two weeks with a bum hip. Antti Raanta is a worthy deputy but the Rangers have a few sets of back-to-back games coming up so we’ll see if he’s up to the grueling schedule.
Aside from Lundqvist, the Blueshirts are getting healthy at the right time. Jesper Fast will be back in the lineup any day now, which would probably send Tanner Glass back to Hartford. Glass hasn’t sucked in his short stint with the big club, but Fast played well all year and earned his spot on that fourth line.
While the Zamboni cleaning the ice for the rest of this column, let’s go to a telling video re New York Mets star Matt Harvey and Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima.
Now back to the action…
Dan Girardi is close to returning from his ankle injury. It’s very clear that Girardi has been in decline for some time now, but I doubt Alain Vigneault would keep Girardi out of the lineup. My guess is Steve Kampfer will be on the bus back to Hartford with Glass. Hopefully the Rangers can stay healthy going forward. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks Lundqvist is fine and they’re just giving him some rest for the playoff push. But it seems like an elaborate scam to get a goalie some rest.
Across town, the Islanders are fighting hard for that last Wild Card spot. They’ve got some tough competition in the Lightning and Maple Leafs. The Leafs beat the Lightning in a rout last night. The two teams have one more meeting in early April. The Isles have a tough stretch coming up against playoff teams towards the end of March, but have an easy-ish schedule in April.
At the top of the Metropolitan Division, the Capitals are holding on for dear life. They’re only two points ahead of the Blue Jackets having played one game more. The Penguins are also lurking in the shadows, only three points behind the Caps. Winning top spot in the Division is critical. The winner will most likely play the second Wild Card spot in the East. The second and third placed teams will have to face off in the first round. One great team will definitely be sent packing after the first round.
It’s all to play for. Forget basketball, watch hockey. And Adriana Lima.