Tonight's games: Family values and bitterness

With the trade deadline’s new car smell starting to wear off, NHL teams can go back to what is usually on their minds: the playoffs and vengeance (one can also imagine women being on their minds a bit too).

Anyway, let’s take a look at the league’s five for Friday.
Today’s Best

Vancouver Canucks (39-22-2, 80 pts) at Chicago Blackhawks (42-16-5, 89 pts) – 8:30 PM ET

Though their rivalry lacks the history of Red Wings – Blackhawks, last year’s brutal second round series instilled plenty of snarl. The bout holds the added advantage of hockey’s favorite “nature versus nurture” argument: will Chicago’s borderline All-Star team win despite its much maligned goalies or will all-world netminder Roberto Luongo shut them down?
New Jersey Devils (38-21-3, 79 pts) at Calgary Flames (30-24-9, 69 pts) – 9:00 PM ET

The Devils are seeking revenge against former coach and champion frowner Brent Sutter tonight. Sutter fled the team to work with his brother (and Flames GM) Darryl. Unfortunately, the Devils are known for wreaking revenge by boring people to tears.
Rest of the games after the jump


Philadelphia Flyers (33-26-3, 69 pts) at Buffalo Sabres (33-20-9, 75 pts) – 7:30 PM ET

Although Buffalo has a (fairly) comfortable grip on the fifth spot in the East, they’re 0-2 since coming back from Vancouver and are 2-6-2 in their last 10 games. Time for them to shape up.
Nashville Predators (35-23-5, 75 pts) at Detroit Red Wings  (29-22-12, 70 pts) – 7:30 PM ET

Before Chicago gained new life, the Predators carved out an existence as the Susan Lucci of the Central division; they seemingly always ended up second to Detroit. Now they finally have the chance to make it difficult for the Red Wings to even make the playoffs.
Minnesota Wild  (31-27-4, 66 pts) at Edmonton Oilers (19-38-6, 44 pts) – 9:00 PM ET

What’s the perfect remedy for an awful defense? A game against the Wild! Edmonton is probably going to lose anyway, though. Sorry, Oilers fans.

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    Fight video: Someone other than Evander Kane beats up Alex Petrovic

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    Bummed out on this holiday? Look on the bright side: at least you’re not as sore as Florida Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic likely is right now.

    Not long after suffering three defeats at the hands/fists of Evander Kane, Petrovic likely lost another bout to Nashville Predators tough guy Anthony Bitetto.

    (Note: some might consider this more of a draw, for what it’s worth. You can watch that latest fight in the video above.)

    Hey, at least Bitetto didn’t taunt Petrovic after their fight …

    It was a rough night for the Panthers overall, as they suffered a gruesome injury or two and fell to the Predators by a score of 5-0.

    Outdoor game rumors: Jets host Oilers, Red Wings at Maple Leafs

    The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings face off during the first period of the Winter Classic outdoor NHL hockey game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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    Love is in the air on Valentine’s Day, and so are rumors about hockey fans bundling up for outdoor games next season.

    Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman went over two possible outdoor matchups coming for 2016-17 during Saturday’s Headlines segment.

    A smart move for a potential game in Winnipeg: Imagine the Jets hosting a game in Winnipeg in February? Ilya Bryzgalov almost turned off his TV in protest.

    Instead, Sportsnet’s John Shannon reports that the Jets are likely to host the Edmonton Oilers in October. That would be a smart logistical move, as long as it isn’t too hot.

    (Also, playing it then would hopefully increase the odds of the mainstream sporting public seeing Connor McDavid in an outdoor game.)

    Toronto’s turn: Friedman reports that the Toronto Maple Leafs are likely to host the Detroit Red Wings in the 2017 Winter Classic (or at least an outdoor game), almost certainly on New Year’s Day 2017.

    The two teams combined for a great Winter Classic at Ann Arbor in 2014, so that could be a fun time.

    ***

    Keep in mind these are reports (and well-placed ones at that) rather than official announcements for the NHL. These things could always change.

    Related: Could the Penguins host the Flyers outdoors next season, too?

    Ducks likely to recall Khudobin after Gibson injury

    Chicago Blackhawks' Richard Panik (14), of Slovakia, collides with Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Chicago. Anaheim won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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    “Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.

    The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).

    The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.

    Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:

    The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”

    Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.

    Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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    For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

    They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

    • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
    • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
    • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

    Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

    Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

    Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.