Capping the easiest and hardest NHL schedules

Apr 17, 2013 |
The Islanders are trying to clinch their first playoff berth since 2007.
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports
The Islanders are trying to clinch their first playoff berth since 2007.
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports
With less than two weeks left before the Stanley Cup playoffs begin, here's a look at three teams with tough schedules who could go sliding and three squads with an easy ride who are set up for a late-season streak.

Three easiest schedules:

New York Rangers (eighth in East, 46 points)
Remaining schedule: Florida, @Buffalo, New Jersey, @Florida, @Carolina, New Jersey

The Broadway Blueshirts are the only team in the East that doesn't meet a current playoff team the rest of the season, which should give the Rangers another leg up on Winnipeg for the final playoff spot in the conference.

St. Louis Blues (seventh in West, 50 points)
Remaining schedule: Phoenix, Dallas, @Colorado, Colorado, Calgary, Chicago

Only one playoff team remains on the docket for the Blues along with only one road game, at Colorado.

New York Islanders (seventh in East, 49 points)
Remaining schedule: @Toronto, @Winnipeg, @Carolina, @Philadelphia, @Buffalo

At first glance, five road games doesn't seem like the perfect way to wrap up the schedule for a young team that hasn't made the playoffs since 2007. But the Long Islanders have only one game against a current playoff team, Toronto, and are road warriors this season with a 12-5-1-1 record.

Three toughest schedules:

Edmonton Oilers (12th in West, 39 points)
Remaining schedule: @Colorado, Anaheim, Anaheim, Chicago, @Minnesota, Vancouver

The young Oilers have lost six in a row and fired their GM this week. Now they face the top three teams in the Western Conference and a road game against another playoff team at Minnesota.

Washington Capitals (third in East, 50 points)
Remaining schedule: @Ottawa, @Montreal, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Boston

Washington will be put to the test to keep its eight-game winning streak afloat starting with two road games against Ottawa and Montreal.

Calgary Flames (14th in West, 36 points)
Remaining schedule: Detroit, Anaheim, @Minnesota, @Nashville, @St. Louis, @Chicago

Calgary will face only one other cellar-dweller in Nashville and will close out the season with four on the road where it has the league's second-worst record at 5-13-2.
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