Case of the Mondays: March 10-11

Work can wait. Take a minute to peruse the highlights of the weekend:

  • Breaking news!!! Sidney Crosby, who hasn't played in a game since Dec. 5, did not play against the Boston Bruins on Sunday, a game he never actually said he would play in. And while Crosby wasn't playing, the Pittsburgh Penguins won their ninth straight game and Evgeni Malkin reclaimed the NHL scoring lead with 84 points.

  • The St. Louis Blues have quietly charged to the top of the standings in the NHL. While beating the Columbus Blue Jackets twice over the weekend is nothing to throw a parade over, winning nine of your past 10 games and separating yourself in the tough Central Division is impressive.

  • Martin Brodeur earned his 650th career victory and needed only 18 saves against the Flyers to do it. The Devils are battling in the middle of the Eastern Conference standings, but the luckiest result for them could be a sixth-place finish. At least on paper, a first-round matchup against the winner of the Southeast Division looks more favorable than facing any team from the Atlantic Division.

  • And speaking of the Southeast Division ... the Florida Panthers held a one-point advantage over the Washington Capitals at the end of the weekend. The Capitals have won three straight and sit in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, while the Panthers are just 2-3-1 in their past six games. It is looking like it won't be settled until these teams meet on April 5.

  • On Saturday, Mike Smith did his part to make sure the Phoenix Coyotes held on to a playoff spot. Smith made 42 saves to shut out the San Jose Sharks, and the Coyotes are in seventh place in the Western Conference.

  • As of Monday morning, the Calgary Flames pulled to the front of the traffic jam for the final playoff spot out West. The Flames, Kings and Avalanche are all tied with 76 points, while the Sharks are in 11th place with 75 points. San Jose's only advantage is that it has played the fewest games of the four teams, but it needs to end this five-game skid to make the extra games count for something.

  • Everyone was quick to jump on Ilya Bryzgalov when things were going poorly in Philadelphia, but it is time to sing his praises. The Universe started his 11th straight game on Saturday (before resting on Sunday) and earned his third shutout in four games.