NHL News and Notes
A Guest Blog By Fanspeak Contributing Writer Brian Murphy:
Devils Trying to Put This Season on Backburner with Their Hot Streak:
The Devils have the least amount of points (as of January 26, 2011) in the NHL. But if you have been following the NHL the past two weeks you would find it hard to believe. In their past 7, the Devils are 6-0-1, including wins over the Lightning (twice), Penguins, and Flyers. I think they may have dug themselves into too far a hole to make the playoffs if they keep this up after the All-Star Break. An interesting debate in New Jersey is if soon-to-be restricted free agent Zach Parise will return to the Devils. Parise, one of the best LW in the game, has been out injured nearly all year. Is seeing a happy, productive Ilya Kovalchuk and rejuvenated Brodeur enough to get Parise to sign a contract extension? Only time, and the Devils second half, will tell!
The Eastern Conference Race is Heating Up Heading Into Break:
The Philadelphia Flyers have been playing great hockey as of late, and will head into the All-Star break at the top of the Eastern Conference standings. The Flyers have won 10 of their last 12 and have 71 points. Not far behind are the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning (67 points) who have won their last 5 heading into the break. Led by Steven Stamkos and the always-studly Martin St. Louis, the Lightning will pose a big threat to reach the Eastern Conference Finals this playoffs. The Flyers and Lightning will play in Tampa the first game after the break on February 1st.
A team that can’t wait for the All-Star Break to get here is the Washington Capitals. The Caps have dropped to 5th in the Eastern Conference standings and have only won 4 games in their past 11 games. The first half of the season was a very streaky one for this squad. In December, they lost 8 games in a row after looking like the best team in the NHL in the beginning of the season. In order for the Caps to gain some steam heading into the playoffs, they need to make sure they are on a hot streak and not a cold one.