For contenders in the Eastern Conference, "playoff hockey" has applied to the last 20 or 30 games, continuing through the last two weeks of the regular season and into the official postseason.
The number of teams with similar records who are vying for the top seed.
After the Flyers beat the Islanders tonight, first and seventh place are separated by only eight points. And every division in the conference still has several teams in the hunt for the division title.
The race has gotten so tight that fans of many teams now have to root for their arch-enemies to win so that they have a better shot at the highest seed possible.
One game tomorrow night is a perfect example of this dilema. If you are a Ranger fan, you are going to be rooting for the Islanders tomorrow when the host the Penguins, just like you were rooting for the Islanders tonight when they took on the Flyers.
So, the fight will go on for another two weeks. Division rivals play each other for the remainder of the regular season, battles intensify, and outcomes will finally be determined.
Just don't be surprised if you find yourself biting your nails on that final Sunday.
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