Three more teams played game 50 yesterday, including two from the same city. That’s right, we have the Islanders, the Rangers, and also the Anaheim Ducks who do not play in New York City. Here’s how they are looking:
Anaheim Ducks (23-20-7, good for 53 points): The Ducks are still sitting on the outside of the playoffs, but they’ve played well enough to keep themselves in contention. They’ve been terrible on the road, they have a minus-15 goal differential, Teemu Selanne can’t stay healthy, but I just can’t write this team off yet. Not with their talent.
Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf are tied for the team lead in points with 48, with Bobby Ryan behind them with 40 points and 22 goals. However, we have seen a terrible decline in Scott Niedermeyer, who, while scoring 28 points, has a minus-17 rating. If I may be so bold as to offer up my opinion as to why the Ducks have played better recently, I think it is due to finally apparently giving the starting nod to Jonas Hiller. He’s outplayed J.S. Giguere all season, and with consistent playing time he should improve his numbers. His 2.85 GAA and .915 SV% aren’t great, but they beat Giguere’s 3.03 GAA and .900 SV%. I don’t know if the Ducks have what it takes to make it to the postseason, but they are at the very least in the chase.
New York Islanders (22-20-8, good for 52 points): Stunningly, the Islanders also remain in the chase, though that may be in record only. I think this is a team punching above its weight. Yes, they are 7-2-1 in their last 10, but they also have a minus-17 goal differential and their goaltending and defense have been substandard this season. Nevertheless, the Islanders might be the surprise team of the season simply by not being bad.
While John Tavares has played well as a rookie, it is Kyle Okposo who leads the team in points with 33. Additionally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the season Matt Moulson is having. 19 goals and 32 points? Nobody saw that coming. Dwayne Roloson has been decent in net (2.78 GAA, .910 SV%) but things will get interesting now that Rick DiPietro has returned. I presume they will try and trade Martin Biron, but for what given the season he’s had? All in all, the Islanders are a nice story, and closer to contention than I, and most people, thought, but I don’t see this team making the playoffs just yet.
New York Rangers (24-19-7, good for 55 points): At various points in this season, my prediction that the Rangers would make the playoffs has looked iffy at best. However, at the 50 game mark things are looking encouraging, with the Rangers currently sixth in the pretty weak Eastern Conference. Not bad for a two man team.
Those two men in question? Marian Gaborik and Henrik Lundqvist. Only Gaborik does much scoring for the Rangers (29 goals, 61 points) so it is up to Lundqvist to keep it close. He’s been up to the task thus far, with a 2.25 GAA and a .925 SV%. This team reminds me of after the lockout when the Rangers were pretty much just Jaromir Jagr and a rookie Lundqvist. That team made the playoffs. I expect the same thing this year.