Let’s take a look at today’s 11 games. All start times are Eastern.
Calgary @ Pittsburgh
I was surprised to see that both teams receive a typical 24 hour break for back-to-back games even though they’re starting in the afternoon. (It seemed like they would have less than that, but both of their games began at 1 pm yesterday, too.) The Penguins are on a hot streak while the Flames stole one from the Flyers yesterday.
Philadelphia @ New Jersey
What was supposed to be an Atlantic Division showdown is instead a game between one of the East’s best and one of the conference’s worst teams. The Devils might just be the very worst team in the league, in fact.
Toronto @ Ottawa
The Senators aren’t far ahead of the Leafs (in fact, games in hand might explain why they rank higher in the standings) and their goal differential (-17) is worse than Toronto’s -10.
Buffalo @ Montreal
My guess is that Carey Price will play in this one after Alexander Auld lost to Atlanta last night. It’s unclear if the Sabres will play Ryan Miller two nights in a row after coming off a mild groin injury, but the Habs should probably be the favorites tonight either way.
Florida @ Tampa Bay
Both teams were shut out last night (the Panthers fell to the Rangers, the Lightning were drilled by the Capitals), so each squad will come out a little angry.
Dallas @ St. Louis
Speaking of coming out angry, the Blues should begin their end of a home-and-home series after losing a grinding contest with the Stars. St. Louis cannot afford to go without a point against Dallas this weekend.
Anaheim @ Phoenix
These two teams are on wildly divergent paths, with the Ducks on a six game losing streak while the Coyotes won seven in a row. It doesn’t help matters for Anaheim that they played last night and will go on the road to Phoenix, either.
NY Rangers @ Nashville
The Predators were embarrassed by the Wild last night while the Rangers rode Henrik Lundqvist’s great performance to beat the Panthers on Friday. If Nashville wants to get back into the playoff hunt in the West, they need to win games like this.
Minnesota @ Colorado
This is a pretty big one, as the Wild are just a point behind the Avalanche for second place in the Northwest Division. Colorado is coming off a Thanksgiving day loss to the Edmonton Oilers while Minnesota clobbered Nashville on Friday.
San Jose @ Edmonton
Things haven’t been very good for the Sharks lately; they’re 1-2-2 in their last five games and got crushed by the Canucks last night by a score of 6-1. The Oilers could really boost their waning confidence if they follow up a nice win over the Avs with another home victory against the Sharks.
Chicago @ Los Angeles
If you want a good example when you’re explaining why games played is hugely important in considering the league standings, look at the Blackhawks and the Kings. They both have 26 points this season, but Chicago played in 25 games while L.A. only appeared in 21. The Kings can begin to win back the Pacific from the streaking Coyotes by beating the Hawks tonight.