Tonight's games: Rangers on life support

All five games have at least some playoff implications (at least for seeding), but Detroit-Columbus and Colorado-Edmonton lack some of the sizzle of the other three matches. Those two games are more about trying to leapfrog other teams or keeping their place in line. The other three are a little more interesting, with New York – Toronto being particularly huge. (Look at this way, though, Bruins fans: if Toronto loses, at least your chances of getting Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin improves.)

Toronto Maple Leafs (29-37-14, 72 pts) at New York Rangers (36-33-10, 82 pts) 7 PM ET

John Tortorella and the Rangers should look at the situation simply: win out and you’re in the playoffs. That’s not exactly an easy task when you consider the fact that they play the equally motivated Flyers in those last two games. Losing this game would be a real slap in the face, though. Especially considering how badly the game against Buffalo went.

Nashville Predators (46-28-6, 98 pts) at Phoenix Coyotes (48-25-6, 102 pts) 10 PM ET

Things have cooled down a bit for the Coyotes, but it would be quite the late season tumble if they managed to cough up the fourth seed (and home ice) against their possible first round opponents from Nashville. If this ends up being the 4-5 match, it will have to go down as one of the scrappiest playoff series in recent history. There would flat-out be a lot of scraps, folks.

St. Louis Blues (39-31-9, 87 pts) at Chicago Blackhawks (50-22-7, 107 pts) 8:30 PM ET

Chicago actually has a decent chance of stealing the top seed in the West because they have more wins than San Jose and a game in hand. Much of the dreary atmosphere in the Windy City has cleared up since the team is now on an impressive 4 game winning streak. Still, that doesn’t make things any rosier for sad panda netminder Cristobal Huet.

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    Shane Doan isn’t asking to be traded by Coyotes, but isn’t saying no either

    TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 15:  Shane Doan #19 of the Arizona Coyotes skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on December 15, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Coyotes defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2 in an overtime shoot-out. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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    Imagine, for a second, Shane Doan wearing another team’s jersey. Apparently it’s not out of the question.

    During the weekend, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Doan would be willing to waive his no-trade clause for the right situation. Despite his 1,500+ games with the Jets/Coyotes, Doan responded mostly in the affirmative to NHL.com, although the rugged forward notes that it would take a “perfect” scenario to make everything work.

    (He said that he hasn’t been asked to waive his no-trade clause … but he might be open to suggestion.)

    “I’d talk about it with my family and make a decision on that if it was to come up but it would have to be so perfect and so right that it’s pretty hard for it to all line up perfectly,” Doan said. “It would have to be exactly perfect and that just doesn’t happen too often in our sport.”

    The 40-year-old interestingly notes that the discussion has come up before, only word hasn’t surfaced in reports. He even said that there were times when he gave his approval, although in most cases, his answer was “No.”

    What is perfect?

    What’s the perfect situation? That’s where things are fuzzier, as Doan explains that picking a “contender” can be a little trickier when you consider where, say, the Penguins and Sharks were around this time last year.

    Doan says family matters, yet he also seems somewhat flexible in that area. After all, it might just be for a few months as a “rental.”

    Measuring his value

    On the other end, of course, you must also wonder who will want him.

    The pluses are easy to see: he’s big, physical and checks off a ton of the “intangibles” boxes. Chances are, a perspective team would weigh his 28 goals from 2015-16 more heavily than his mere 12 points in 42 games this season.

    That said, at his age, and considering his numbers this season, there’s the obvious question regarding how much he has left in the tank.

    Then again, if the price is reasonable – and the Coyotes certainly are looking to sell off expiring contracts – then it could make for an interesting situation.

    If anything happens at all.

    WATCH LIVE: Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins

    WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 11:  Evgeny Kuznetsov #92 of the Washington Capitals and Carl Hagelin #62 of the Pittsburgh Penguins fight in the third period at Verizon Center on January 11, 2017 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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    Last time, the Washington Capitals were just a little hotter than the Pittsburgh Penguins, winning the game as Alex Ovechkin crossed the 1,000-point threshold.

    A week or so later, the Capitals are still red-hot while the Penguins are waddling through some uncertainty. Pittsburgh aims to end a three-game losing streak while the Caps hope to get their 10th win in a row on Monday night.

    You can check out the action on NBCSN, watch online and also via the NBC Sports App.

    Click here for the livestream.

    Watch Jonathan Drouin’s assist of the year candidate

    NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 29:  Jonathan Drouin #27 of the Tampa Bay Lightning in action against the New Jersey Devils during their game at the Prudential Center on October 29, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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    Jonathan Drouin‘s been playing some of his best hockey of late, with five points in his last four contests.

    He isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, either.

    This is Drouin’s effort from today’s Lightning-Kings game at Staples, setting up Tyler Johnson to even the score at one late in the first period:

    Not bad. Tanner Pearson may still be looking for his protective undergarment.

    Little has gone right for Tampa Bay lately — or this season, to be honest — but Drouin could be on the verge of changing that. He was terrific in December, with eight goals and 15 points in 13 games, and appears to have carried that form over to the new year. He’s been a point-a-game guy in January, a trend that continued this afternoon.

    Video: Frustrations boil over as Stars lose again

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    The Dallas Stars just cannot get it together. And this afternoon in Buffalo, where the Stars dropped a 4-1 decision to the Sabres, captain Jamie Benn‘s frustrations boiled over.

    As you can see in the video above, Benn snapped three sticks in total — one on the ice, two while on the bench.

    It’s worth noting that Benn committed a bad giveaway on the Sabres’ winning goal in the first period. With the Stars on the penalty kill, Benn had a chance to clear the puck. Instead, he put it right on the stick of Jake McCabe, who beat Antti Niemi to make it 2-0 Buffalo.

    With the loss, the Stars’ record fell to 18-19-8. And after 45 games, last year’s Central Division champs find themselves four points back of Los Angeles for the second wild-card spot in the West, with the Kings holding two games in hand.

    Credit to the Sabres, who improved to 17-17-9 with today’s well-earned victory. But this one will be remembered for Benn’s very public display of frustration. The Stars get right back at it tomorrow in Manhattan against the Rangers.