Let’s take a look at tonight’s six game schedule. As always, start times are Eastern (ET).
NY Islanders @ NY Rangers
The Rangers beat the Islanders 6-5 thanks to a great performance by Marian Gaborik and now they’ll host their rivals from Long Island in their home end of back-to-back games. Then again, maybe Madison Square Garden isn’t where they were going to earn a win during this series, as only 5 of their 15 wins have come at home.
Colorado @ Carolina
Interestingly enough, this is a match between the ninth placed team in the West (the Avs are tied with the Kings and Sharks at 28 points, but L.A. owns the win tie-breaker) against the ninth placed team in the East (the Hurricanes are far behind eighth place with 23 points). An Avalanche win would add another bullet point to the “West is by far the superior conference” argument.
Columbus @ Buffalo
The Blue Jackets have gone from red-hot to tepid, as they’ve lost their last three games. Playing against the mediocre (at best) Sabres is a pretty good way to do it.
Calgary @ Minnesota
Even if the Flames beat the Wild, it wouldn’t technically make them tied as the second worst teams in the West because Minnesota has a game in hand against Calgary. Still, in the short term, that’s basically what is at stake, as the Wild try to end their three game winning streak.
Vancouver @ Chicago
Last time these two teams played, Alain Vigneault was complaining about the Blackhawks running up the score. Perhaps this was just Vigneault reaching his breaking point, though, because Chicago has made short work of the Canucks the last few years. No guarantee that trend will continue, but it’s hard to imagine the hate going away anytime soon.
Detroit @ Anaheim
This is another Western Conference feud with some bad blood, both recent (Teemu Selanne’s comments about a Niklas Kronwall hit) and in the recent past. They’ve had some well-fought series – and while the Red Wings have gotten the best of the Ducks lately – these two teams with very different styles are not very fond of each other.
Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).
The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.
You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.
It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.
Scary stuff on Saturday: multiple reporters (including the Maine Hockey Journal’s Chris Roy) note that Malcolm Subban was taken to a hospital after a puck struck his throat during warm-ups.
There’s no word yet on Subban’s condition beyond that he was taken away in an ambulance.
The AHL’s Providence Bruins seem like they’ve been left scrambling for a backup goalie in Subban’s absence.
Subban stated days ago that he’s taken some significant steps forward during the 2015-16 season.
The Ottawa Senators cannot pin all of their troubles on missing their No. 1 center, yet it probably feels like a huge relief to get him back.
After missing six games with his latest injury, Kyle Turris is in the lineup as the Senators take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Again, it’s not all a matter of missing Turris, but the Senators went 1-5-0 during his six-game absence. They’ve really been falling since late December, to be honest.
Will Turris be enough to stop the bleeding? Perhaps to an extent, but the Senators are in for a serious battle if they hope to fight through the East bubble.
Times have been tough for Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers fans lately, even if they’ve been frustrating in different ways.
Saturday’s 5-1 Habs win highlights a few things, but the most tantalizing thought for those fans is that it’s likely that we’ll see more great things from P.K. Subban and Connor McDavid … sometimes against each other.
Perhaps this will be a confidence booster for Montreal. More than anything else, it directed attention to Subban, who’s quietly been absolutely fantastic for the floundering Canadiens.
Consider how much of an offensive burden he’s currently carrying:
From one current All-Star to someone who could be a perennial one: McDavid certainly seemed to grab Subban’s attention.
Then again, when you make moves like these, who won’t notice?
The Oilers did lose, mind you, so it’s not surprising that Todd McLellan mentioned that the team can’t depend upon McDavid for everything.
That said, the funny thing about that quote is that McDavid might just carry the Oilers for two decades, at least if health and other factors go the right way.
If that’s true, Subban vs. McDavid could be a fun matchup to watch a few times per season for a long, long time.