Five Things To Watch: Playoff Races Heat Up

Each day, THN gives you five things to watch out for in the games ahead. Here’s what to watch for Sunday night:

1) Islanders on a Hot Streak?

You read that right. With seven wins in their last nine games, the Islanders – despite being in last place in their division – are only seven points out of a playoff spot. Against a Stars team that has just three wins in their last ten, look for New York to do everything they can to keep their streak going.

2) Buffalo Fills Up the Roster

They have been in last place all season, but the Buffalo Sabres get two of their best players back in Cody Hodgson and Ville Leino, both returning from injury. Hodgson still leads the team in points, despite not having played the last eight games. Leino has missed just three games. The team plays Washington in DC Sunday night.

3) Metropolitan Rivalry

The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers have been fighting for position the last few weeks, and the Flyers now sit with a divisional playoff berth, while the Rangers are looking in from the Wild Card, just one point back. The two teams meet in Madison Square Garden tonight, in what should be another ferocious battle between the two long-time rivals.

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4) Wild Card Up for Grabs

As we head deeper into the second half of the season, the playoff picture is starting to take shape – and it’s the Maple Leafs and Devils who are currently on the outside looking in. Separated by just two points, both teams are looking to leapfrog those around them to get into one of the two Wild Card spots. Both teams faceoff at the Air Canada Centre on Sunday night, a game that will be nationally televised in the USA.

5) Former Conference Rivals

The Red Wings and Ducks used to have some intense conference matchups when both teams were in the Western Conference. Although the game might not have as much of an impact in the standings, both teams are in the playoff race (the Wings in the Eastern Conference Wild Card and the Ducks lead the Pacific Division) and need to keep racking up the points en route to April. Anaheim hosts Detroit on Sunday night.