The brutal NHL schedule gets a little break Feb. 26 with seven games on tap. Teams are now starting to separate themselves into playoff contenders and division leaders. The Eastern Conference features the New York Rangers with a huge lead for the top seed by seven points over the Boston Bruins. Meanwhile, the entire Southeast Division is separated by just nine points from top to bottom. The Western Conference features a tight Pacific Division and a two-team race developing in the Central Division.
It's a great time of year to be a professional hockey fan. Here is the schedule of games for Feb. 25. All times are Eastern.
The Tampa Bay Lightning and New Jersey Devils are in similar situations. The Lightning are eight points out of first place in the brutal Southeast Division. The Devils are part of a three-way logjam in the middle of the Atlantic Division. Both teams need a win to try to better their conference standings.
Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins, 1 p.m.
The worst team in the NHL is the Columbus Blue Jackets. They travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins, a team trying to catch the Rangers before it's too late.
The Vancouver Canucks go south for the winter as they take on the Dallas Stars. Dallas is part of a group of Pacific Division teams within nine points of each other. Vancouver is running away with the Northwest Division and has a one-point lead for the Western Conference's top seed.
New York Islanders at Ottawa Senators, 5 p.m.
The New York Islanders take on the Ottawa Senators. The Islanders have slowly moved out of the cellar in the Eastern Conference and are making a move closer to an eight seed.
Montreal Canadiens at Florida Panthers, 5 p.m.
The Florida Panthers are tied for the Southeast Division lead with the Winnipeg Jets. They need a win against the lowly Montreal Canadiens to try to keep the division within their own control.
San Jose Sharks at Minnesota Wild, 6 p.m.
The San Jose Sharks should be mad. They are no longer tops in the Pacific Division and badly need a win. They are 3-6-1 over the last 10 games. They travel to the Minnesota Wild, a team that has struggled all season.
Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks, 7 p.m.
The Chicago Blackhawks have fallen by the wayside in the Central Division but still have the sixth seed in the Western Conference. The Anaheim Ducks are last in the Pacific Division.