It wasn’t that long ago that the New York Rangers were considered a lock to finish the season atop the Eastern Conference.

This morning, however, the Pittsburgh Penguins are salivating at the possibility.

Last night, the Penguins pulled out a come-from-behind victory over the Florida Panthers, extending their winning streak to eight games, while the Rangers blew a lead in their loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, extending their losing streak to three games.

And just like that, the Penguins are within striking distance of the Rangers, who have just a four point advantage in the standings.

With 15 games remaining for each team, and two head-to-head match-ups, it’s far from unrealistic to think the conference leader could be usurped by the Penguins.

Sure, the Rangers are slated to play their next seven games at Madison Square Garden, where they sport a 22-7-2 record, but they’re also in the midst of their season worst losing streak that could be proving their vulnerability as the intensity increases and weaknesses are exposed.

Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, the Penguins are reveling in their second eight-game winning streak of the season — the only team to do so this year — and appear to be getting better.

Oh, and Sidney Crosby could be back in uniform as early as tomorrow.

Put the pieces of the puzzle together, and it spells good things for the Penguins, who just might be considered Stanley Cup favorites if Crosby and injured defenseman Kris Letang can return and contribute for the long-haul.

But in the short-term, the Penguins simply need to continue what they are doing, and a first place finish just might be in the cards.