This is it, the last week of the season! The playoffs are almost assured at this point, but we're certainly in a sticky situation as far as seeding goes.
Figuring out what we'll be facing can get tricky this time of year. The Pens are locked into the Conference lead now and the Flyers were eliminated by Friday's Rangers game. The Capitals and Bruins are in close heats for the division leads right now, but the Caps could lock that up on Tuesday, and who knows how the Bruins will be sitting by Sunday.
See if you can spot the hidden (not really) theme that repeats itself in 3 of the 4 games!
Game 46 - Penguins at Senators
While it could be a potential first round matchup, I doubt we'll get a good idea of how the teams will line up against each other. Reports have the Penguins coming in to Ottawa with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Kris Letang, Paul Martin or Beau Bennett (who's that you ask?) expected to be out of the lineup, and Marc-Andre Fleury expected to be the backup. We'll see how accurate those reports end up being.
That leaves.... uh... Chris Kunitz! He's been pretty quietly having the best season of his career. He's 2nd on the Pens for points with over a point per game, and tied for 5th in the league in goals. Jarome Iginla is still in the lineup too, and has 7 points in his 9 games as a Penguin. Pascal Dupuis just had his point streak broken at 6 games, but has 12 points in his last 10.
Game 47 - Senators at Capitals
The defeat at the hands of the Sens seems to have been but a bump in the road for the Capitals. They went into Montreal and destroyed the Habs 5-1, picking up right where they had left off.
Braden Holtby, apart from that one horrible play, was the main reason the Caps stayed in the game against the Sens, and he put in a stronger performance against the Habs.
With this as a potential first round matchup, it's a statement game for the Caps after the loss in Ottawa.
Game 48 - Flyers at Senators
S7S game night! Last home game of the regular season! Fan appreciation night for the team! And potentially Alfie's last regular season game (Say it ain't so!).
In my inane colour commentator stat of the week, Claude Giroux has points in his last 5 games where Philly hasn't been shut out. More seriously he has been playing well with 10 points in his last 10 games, held off the score sheet in only 3 of them. Jakub Voracek is also putting up a good pace, with 9 points in the same stretch.
Steve Mason has been pretty good on average, posting a 0.931 SV% in a Flyers uniform, but it's been uneven. Out of the games he has started, he has two around 0.900, and 2 around 0.950. Ilya Bryzgalov had one good and one bad game since losing to Ottawa, strangely winning the bad game and losing the good one.
42 49 - Senators at Bruins
A potential first round matchup...
Rescheduled due to the bombings at the Boston Marathon, we now end the season a day later. It's a back-to-back with travel for both teams, with Boston visiting Washington Saturday night.
Since the game was scheduled to be played, Boston has become a tougher opponent - they've seen the return of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand to the lineup, as well as the addition of Carl Soderberg. It did take them 2 more games to ditch the losing streak though, finally breaking it against Florida over the weekend.
As I mentioned at the start, the question right now is if this game will make a difference in the standings for either team. Things are incredibly tight for both teams in the standings right now, but that could change by Sunday. If Boston is sitting pretty in 2nd, we might see their big guns being rested.