As Playoff Hunt Heats Up, Canadiens, Islanders and Predators all Cling to Thin Divisional Leads

Springtime will officially begin next week, and that means that the NHL postseason is right around the corner. As teams across the league make a final push to secure a spot in their quest for Lord Stanley, only the Pacific-leading Ducks have their division locked up down the stretch. The Canadiens, Islanders and Predators all cling to small leads atop their respective divisions, adding further allure to the last month of regular season play.

In the Atlantic division, the Canadiens currently own a one-point lead over surging Lightning, who have won their last four games. At 42-18-7, the Habs will look to repeat last year’s fortunes and make another deep playoff push. The Red Wings own third place honors with 85 points on the year while the Bruins currently control the second and final Wild Card spot with 78 points.

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The Metropolitan-leading Islanders were unable to pull out a pivotal win against the divisional rival Rangers on home ice Tuesday night, and with 89 points and four games in-hand, it appears that the Rangers are poised to take the division pending a catastrophic collapse. The Penguins are fighting for elbow room as well, tentatively sitting in third place with 86 points under their belt. The Capitals currently control the first Wild Card spot with 82 points.

In the Western Conference, the bumbling Predators sit atop the Central division with a two-point lead over the Blues. The Predators have dropped seven of their last 10 games, including a shootout loss to the Flyers on February 21. Creeping up behind the Blues in third place are the Blackhawks at 84 points while the Wild and Jets own both Wild Card spots.

It’s been a runaway in the Pacific for the Ducks, who own an 11-point lead over the second-place Canucks. Vancouver has managed to chip away at the divisional lead, however, as the team has won its last two games while the Ducks have lost their last two. The Canucks’ primary focus should be on outplaying the Flames, who currently sit just three points behind with 77 points.

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