You can’t ask for more when it comes to the excitement of playoff season and there’s a pair of games with postseason jockeying in mind tonight on NBCSN.
New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils (7:30 p.m. ET)
The Rangers are in a bit of a funk and while they’ve finally got their lineup back in order after a few injury hiccups, they’re in need of some wins. Meanwhile, the Devils are looking to get into the hunt with the Penguins and Flyers for the fourth and fifth seeds.
The Rangers have dropped five of their last seven and sit just one point ahead of Pittsburgh. They’ve taken two tough losses in a row at the hands of the Pens and Avalanche but with Henrik Lundqvist back from a bout with the flu and Ryan Callahan and Michael Del Zotto feeling healthy again, it should only be a matter of time before they’re all back into form. New York could stand to see a bit more out of Brad Richards as it’s been Marian Gaborik who’s done most of the offensive heavy lifting for them of late.
New Jersey, meanwhile, is seeing Martin Brodeur look more like the goalie we’ve been accustomed to seeing over the years. While he was lit up by the Penguins on Saturday in a 5-2 loss, he was New Jersey’s best player. That’s saying a lot considering how great Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise have been this season but even Brodeur is giving Kovalchuk tips on how to score in the shootout. Opposite of the Rangers, New Jersey has won five of their last seven games and sit five points behind the Flyers for fifth. Finishing sixth wouldn’t be so bad seeing how you get to face the Southeast Division champion. Maybe the Devils want to cool it on that whole “winning” thing.
The Sharks are in a Mexican standoff of sorts with Los Angeles, Calgary, Dallas, Colorado and Phoenix for the final two spots in the Western Conference and getting hot at any time now means taking control of a playoff spot. As it is, San Jose is tied in ninth with the Kings at 82 points, one back of Pacific leading Dallas as well as Colorado and Phoenix who sit in seventh and eighth.
Perhaps the Sharks are rounding into form. Martin Havlat is back healthy and he got his goal scoring touch back against the Red Wings potting two goals including the overtime winner. With the amount of talent the Sharks have, there’s no reason for them to miss out on the playoffs.
The Ducks, meanwhile, are virtually toast in the playoff race but they would enjoy playing the spoiler for everyone. If Bruce Boudreau can keep his temper down when it comes to officiating, having their top players run roughshod on opponents can make anyone’s life hell. From Teemu Selanne to Bobby Ryan to Ryan Getzlaf to Corey Perry, that’s a lot of high-end talent to help make everyone else miserable. The Sharks are hoping they can accept their lot in life for at least one night.