By Joe Haggerty
WILMINGTON, Mass. The sprint has started in the NHL.The Bruins have 17 games to go in the regular season, and continue to shoot up the standings as teams like the Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins have suddenly hit the skids.Boston now sits only two points behind the Flyers for the top seed in the entire Eastern Conference after a season where theyve been picked apart and dissected despite having themselves a very good year. Its the complete opposite of Bostons team from two years ago, which came out like gangbusters in the first three months of the season and then hit a slight skid in the second half that they couldnt shake. And very different from last years Bs squad, which couldnt muster up enough offense while injuries dragged them down every time they seemed like they might be nearing some consistency.In many ways the Bs are set up nicely for this years playoff run, and right now it comes down to collecting points and staying healthy. Boston has done a nice job of that so far, and simply needs to maintain for another month.On to the links:With exclusive negotiating rights coming up with the Versus Network, it appears that other networks will be entering the equation for NHL rights with things up in the air for the NFL and NBA. The belief here is that the VersusNBCComcastNHL partnership is simplytoo good to notcontinue. Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury break down what both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals have going for them headed down the stretch for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk. Like Washingtons moves, but it all comes down to Alex Ovechkin at the end of the day. As for Milbury, Tampa Bay is going in the right direction but theyre also soft as can be. Predators TV announcer Terry Crisp talks memories of Calgarys Saddledome after winning the Stanley Cup there more than 20 years ago. Everybody is focused on Dustin Penners ability to merge with Anze Kopitar and the Kings top line, but its really all about the third line when it comes to LA having some success. Nobody likes the Buffalo slug. Nobody. Adrian Dater says that the Craig Anderson deal is Colorados best hope for a No. 1 pick, and Daters longstanding man crush on Anderson is well-documented. So another reason to write about him is a good thing. The Flyers have lost a couple of tough games, and Mike Richards is getting surly with the media. Looks like the playoffs are coming in Philly. Could Winnipeg finally be getting their NHL team back as things continue to crumble in Phoenix? I think everybody is hoping for the affirmative, but how many times have we heard this before. If I were Winnipeg Id be getting sick and tired of being used as a negotiating patsy. Hockeybuzz Habs writer Eric Engels documents a Twitter discussion that we had over the weekend heading into Tuesday nights showdown between Boston and Montreal. We both seem to agree that the Bruins will beat the Canadiens, and now its only a matter of whether Montreal gets crushed or not. Louise K. Cornettas always-entertaining Bruins blog with Johnny Boychuk where he talks about being scratched, Darth Quaider as a nerdy nickname and going home to Edmonton. CSNNE.coms Unfiltered which includes a few precious moments between Kevin Walsh and Iat TD Garden following a Bruins game.