The wild, wild east

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:14 AM ET

The Maple Leafs shook up the bottom end of the Eastern Conference playoff race last night with two trades. But with 61 points and 21 games remaining, is it enough to pass three teams and qualify? Here's what the rest of the eighth-place contenders were up to yesterday and what might happen today:

- Montreal Canadiens, 67 points, 21 games to play: GM Bob Gainey shored up his goaltending in a huge way with David Aebischer now in tandem with Cristobal Huet. But that's likely the only chemistry he'll fool with. Slight chance he'll upgrade on fourth line depth. One rumour yesterday was the Habs will seek to reacquire Arron Asham from the Islanders.

- Atlanta Thrashers, 66 points, 19 games to play: Last night's shootout win over the Rangers gave them six victories in their past seven starts and with almost all their injured players returning, they won't be tinkering much. Defence and goaltending have stabilized, and despite the loss of No. 2 centre Patrik Stefan, rookie Jim Slater has been great on faceoffs. Minor rumblings about getting defenceman Jordan Leopold from Calgary.

- New York Islanders, 60 points, 21 games to play: They dispatched Mark Parrish and Brent Sopel to the Kings for prospects, drawing from a large pool of players, many of them unrestricted free agents. Oleg Kvasha, Shawn Bates, Mattias Weinhandl or Brad Lukowich could go today.

- Boston Bruins, 60 points, 20 games to play: They are still in shock that the bounty from the Joe Thornton trade hasn't put them in the playoffs yet. B's might look to next year and take offers for Sergei Samsonov and defenceman Nick Boynton. They also have three goalies to sort out.


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