It's a very busy schedule today as usual on a hockey Saturday. Already one game of impact in the Atlantic Division went final as the Flyers got a goal and two assists from the red hot Joffrey Lupul in a 4-2 road victory over slumping Tampa Bay.
They moved temporarily into a second place pending what happens with Rangers-Leafs and Sabres-Pens later tonight.
Meanwhile in Colorado, the Avalanche continue to hold a 1-0 lead over the league's worst team the Kings in the final stanza. Defenseman Jordan Leopold has the only tally.
Speaking of the Avs, they'll be without team leader Joe Sakic for eight to 12 weeks. The franchise player who's in his 19th season with Quebec/Colorado underwent hernia surgery yesterday.
The classy 38 year-old captain of the Avalanche has been one of the best players in the league and helped lead them to two Stanley Cups. He's out for the 14th consecutive game today and should be missed despite his team's impressive 8-4-1 mark since his injury.
"A huge loss for us," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville expressed to the Associated Press Thursday. "Obviously, a player of his abilities and what he brings to the organization and the team on a game-by-game basis is irreplaceable. I think in his absence over that last stretch we've done a good job. But I don't think we should feel like it's going to get any easier going forward or anybody's going to feel sorry for us without Joe in the lineup."
Sakic's 1,611 career points place him eighth on the NHL's all-time scoring list. In 24 games this season, the 38 year-old veteran pivot has seven goals and 15 assists totaling 22 points.
He needs just six helpers to reach a career milestone of 1,000. His 617 goals rank 14th best in league history.
"After with the doctors we believe this procedure will enable me to return to the lineup," Sakic said in a statement released by the Avalanche.
Hopefully, we'll get to see more of one of the quietest superstars who just goes about his business on the ice and leads by example.
Best wishes for Joe in his recovery.
As Lenny mentioned earlier, the Rangers visit Toronto tonight for a HNIC clash. The Leafs hold a 2-0-1 edge in the regular season series with the Blueshirts looking to gain a measure of revenge on Toronto. The last time they met, the Leafs beat the Rangers 6-2 at the Garden. There will also be the reunion between pests Sean Avery and Darcy Tucker. So you know this could be an eventful one tonight.
Meanwhile, the first place Devils aim for four in a row as they visit Nassau Coliseum. The Islandes so far have owned them winning all three games with New Jersey just gaining a point in an OT loss. But the Devs have improved since then and it's likely that Wade Dubielewicz will again get the call in net for the Fishsticks.
The Pens and Sabres also will be meeting for the first of a home-and-home series at Mellon Arena with the much anticipated Hockey Heritage Outdoor Classic taking place on New Year's Day up in Buffalo at Ralph Wilson Stadium with faceoff scheduled for 1 ET/10 PT on NBC.
We'll have more later.