All day slate of games for Saturday, Feb 17th.
I'll run'em down in order of when they take place and a few lines about each because I feel like it.
Late Morning/Early Afternoon:
LOS ANGELES at BOSTON
Man, the Kings have gone from a 'lock' to be in the post season, to a point where there is a possibility they miss the playoffs altogether! Lots of their guys played well early on, but many of those same guys are now hitting some rough patches and NOT helped at all by some of the 'passengers' (cough, PL DUBOIS...COUGH..) or injury cases (Arvidsson) they've had!
Of course, I don't know how much can really be expected from the Kings when their goalie tandem is Cam Talbot and David Rittich....
And things do not get easier going to Boston, facing a p$$$ed off Bruins team who WILL be going to the playoffs, but just happen to be a bit off their game lately.
OTTAWA at CHICAGO
Two teams with bright futures, but for now, are near the bottom of the standing. Of course, some thought the Sens would make huge strides THIS season and even, gasp, compete for a playoff spot.
Maybe that draft is looking better than the playoffs for Ottawa? One thing is for sure...
The Hawks are NOT liking all these slumping teams horning in on their tank-not tanking thing they got going on for the next season or two
EDMONTON at DALLAS
A possible Western Conference Finals preview. Stars have been pretty consistent at the top of their division all year, while the Oilers had to come back from the dead with an incredible run to where they should have been all along: a serious contender.
Of course, I am PRETTTTY sure it won't be Calvin Pickard in net for the Oilers should they face Dallas in any WCF series....
For those that like fast action, contrasting styles, and star power throughout the lineups, this would be a great early schedule matchup to tune into!
DETROIT at CALGARY
Red Wings doing their part to stay relevant and continue the 'Yzerman Plan' to compete, and perhaps make the post season. They go up against a Calgary team that epitomizes "being on the fence" with the upcoming trade deadline.
Flames have made a run or two recently, have some good players and a good goalie, but it might still not be enough to make the playoffs, so decisions need to be made there.
They don't appear to me to be a team that wants to play the draft game, and coupled with the fact that Detroit wants standings points, and this game should be played very hard by both sides.
Early afternoon/Mid Afternoon Tier
NASHVILLE at ST. LOUIS
Preds weren't supposed to be a contender this season...but then they were...but now, they don't look the part anymore....and rumors are swirling about which players of theirs may get traded.
The Blues are in a similar position, but, as I mentioned before, it seems they have decided to do their annual come-from-behind schtick to make the playoffs after everyone left them for dead.
Not really sure what to expect from this game. Fans of either team should enjoy it, but anyone else likely won't be too intrigued by what is going on here.
BUFFALO at MINNESOTA
Man....the very disappointing Sabres against a mildly disappointing Wild team.
Let me explain:
Buffalo was SUPPOSED to be doing what Detroit is doing......playing well, continuing to develop young players, sorting through their vets for long or short term worthiness, and competing for a playoff spot.
They are not doing that. Not even a little bit. They look like the same ol freakin out of contention group they've been for the last decade.....but this time, with actual talent on the team.
Yes, I know, injuries haven't helped them, and goaltending is still a bit of an issue, but there IS a thing called team depth that apparently the Sabres didn't look into, or simply don't have.
The Wild weren't supposed to do much (and they aren't really), but then they go on these runs that give fans hope....until the fans realize it will only end in just missing the playoffs or just getting in, and bounced in the first round....again...
So yea...like to see them win, but at the same time, I think anyone with eyeballs and who is paying attention knows, that despite their heart n soul, they simply are not constructed as a very competitive team as it relates to the league.
Another game that is best for fans of either team only....
FLORIDA at TAMPA BAY
Possible Eastern Conference Finals matchup.
Florida continues their steady climb to what they hope is Stanley Cup glory.....while the Lightning are still pushing (and still dangerous) as a club looking to try and squeeze at least one more Cup, maybe two, out of it's current core.
The homestanding Bolts should be underdogs believe it or not because I really think the Panthers have put things together nicely this year.
That said, the two teams have developed a genuine, non media made up, rivalry....and the games between them are usually nasty.
I don't think it matters where in the standings they are right now, each team just wants to beat the other and possibly show them up while doing it.....
If you like your games filthy, grimy, yet injected with lots of skill and speed, this might be the one...
Late Afternoon and into the Evening Slate of games...
ANAHEIM at TORONTO
Bottom feeder vs playoff contender here.
Of course, any team that goes in and takes any other team lightly is just asking for trouble.
And while the Ducks will likely be a bottom five team, they certainly have players with lots of pride who would love nothing more than to go into Toronto and knock off the Rielly-less Maple Leafs....and MAYBE even score a triple wind up EN slap shot from the red line if they get the chance....
WASHINGTON at MONTREAL
Talk about old lion vs young lion here. I believe the Caps are one of the oldest teams in the league with the Habs being one of the youngest.
So...who wants it more?
I will say this for Montreal: they aren't a gimme win for anyone. Marty St. Louis simply will not have it!
And they see Ovechkin and the Caps on the other side, and that is just another reason for them to put on their game faces.
As for Washington, not sure if actually making the playoffs is something they think about these days....or who won't be on the team come trade deadline.
Their gimmick though, is course, Alex's chase of Wayne.
PHILADELPHIA at NEW JERSEY
Two teams that traditionally don't like each other, and, two teams that are in bit of a role reversal. It was SUPPOSED to be the Devils in a playoff spot with the Flyers scratching and clawing to get in, but instead, the Fly Boys have played well all season, are playing John Tortorella hockey, and just may be a playoff team....while the seemingly regressed Devils miss out entirely!
How bout dem apples, eh? EH??
Another game that could turn out nasty during the proceedings....
WINNIPEG at VANCOUVER
I would have said this could also be a West Finals preview, but while the Canucks have continued to play well despite a recent rough patch, the Jets have fallen back a bit.
WPG still plays a tough, physical, defensive game, and Connor Hellebuyck can lock down a game at any given time, but the Jets' lack of consistent scoring, I think, will really hinder them. They definitely are a team that could use a scoring winger or two at the trade deadline.
And they do not want to fall too far behind Vancouver in the game either as Thatcher Demko can be every bit as 'lock down' as Hell Boy.
Another game of contrasting styles that should be interesting to not only fans of both teams, but for fans of hockey in general!
CAROLINA at LAS VEGAS
Stanley Cup Finals preview? Hmmmm.....couuuuuld beeeeeeee.....
Hurricanes, like the Panthers, have been steadily building towards a Cup championship the last few years and some think this year could be their year.
Of course, the defending SC champion Knights would love nothing more than to do what the Bolts did recently, and that is win back to back Cups and continue to be the team to beat in the entire NHL.
These days the Knights are looking a bit ordinary, but still, they should get into the post season to defend their title, and once there, they do have the personnel to keep the Cup in Sin City.
Can the Knight stand up to the storm? Or a bunch of whalers?? We will see....
COLUMBUS at SAN JOSE
Sigh...only if MUST watch this.
Will they play nasty enough, rack up enough PIMs to forfeit the game, thereby helping their lottery cause, and keep things entertaining despite their non status as contenders?
Meh...I wouldn't count on it.....not the nasty and exciting parts anyways...
If you like the Jackets or the Sharks, well, here they are.
For everyone else, there should be some cool episodes of The Wall or Weakest Link being re-run worth watching