Only two weekends left in the 2008/9 regular season. Wow. The season is just about history, almost a reason for celebration for the Mrs. (If it weren't for that pesky two months of Playoffs...)
BUT, 'done' is a relative term. Almost season end is definitely not season concluded this year.
In the east, it remains to be seen in their next contest if last night's OT win for New Jersey is enough to pull them out of a playoff performance threatening slump or not. There's still a little jockeying to go to see if Philly holds on to the Number 4 seed or concedes that to a surging Pittsburgh. And a reinvigorated Montreal leaves the contest for the 8th seed now between the Rangers and Florida. This race just became exciting as the Rangers' loss to Boston Saturday afternoon sets up the Panthers for a point-tie with New York if they pull off the must-win on Sunday against Pittsburgh. Add to that the Rangers have to play Montreal next, and close out with two against Philadelphia while the Panthers get Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Washington to end the season and you have a Donnybrook on your hands. (I personally feel the Rangers will have one Win and one OTL in their last three, which means Florida needs three of their last four as regulation wins, or it was just not to be this season.)
Out West, we are likely to come down to next weekend for our final answer although some things are shaking lose. Or at least as lose as they can be when the distance between the 7th and 10th place teams are three points. Is Detroit finally letting a Cup Hangover chink in their armor show? We think the answer is yes considering four losses in the last five games have not come because of injury to Lidstrom, Rafalski, Zetterberg, Datsyuk and/or Hossa. Will the battle in the Northeast division have The Canucks or Flames come out on top? Calgary's 4-in-the-last-6-games' losses, and Vancouver's 20-5-2 record since 3 February seems to point toward the Canucks for that answer. And who are the last two IN out West between Anaheim, St. Louis, Nashville and Minnesota? The Ducks' back-to-back weekend with San Jose will tell their season's story by Sunday. The highly motivated Blues have a favorable schedule with rest in between games that allows them to maintain a proper tempo for sliding into the post-season. (Get ready to welcome them back to the Playoff picture!) Nashville? Ouch. Several key injuries and a remaining schedule that includes tonight's contest against Columbus, an upcoming Detroit matchup and the season-ender against Minnesota who sits one point behind them does not bode well for their chances of continued play on into late April. If they make it in, it will be because of a lot of character and Pekka Rinne in goal. And Minnesota must win-out to go on into the post season. So Sunday's NBC Game of The Week is their potential swan song.
Done? Not yet, and aren't we the better for it?! Keep your eyes on the screens and your heads in the WHOLE game picture for the next few days to see how it all shakes out...