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Morning Skate: Prepare for 2 weeks of NHL playoff race chaos

It's crunch time.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

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Lace 'em up. Time for the Morning Skate.

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THE RACES ARE SHAPING UP

If we learned anything over the weekend, it's that the playoff races are bringing out the best in every division.

Granted, the races aren't as wide open as in recent years. Conceivably, only four teams are in play for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, while just two are grappling for the same berth in the Western Conference. But even within the division races themselves, teams managed to step up the intensity over the weekend.

Dallas took down Chicago and grasped first in the Central on Friday, and then conceded a costly two points to the Blues the next night. The Flyers essentially did the same thing, letting the Penguins scamper further away in the Wild Card hunt with two wins and four points. And Minnesota jumped ahead of the Avalanche on Saturday, leaving Colorado outside of the playoff picture after a costly loss in Winnipeg.

We might already have a general idea of who will make the playoffs, sure. But that won't take away from the intensity of these last two weeks. (If it does, feel free to yell at me.)

WHAT HAPPENED LAST NIGHT

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NEWS AND NOTES: