Saturday: Boston at Tampa Bay (7 p.m. ET)
If I were a Lightning fan, I’m not sure which Martin St. Louis quote would bother me the most. Would it be this? “I felt it was time to look out for me” (after Steve Yzerman didn’t originally name St. Louis to Team Canada, as if it was some sort of egregious oversight, which it wasn’t.) Or, would it be this? “It’s not like I’ve played a ton of playoff hockey in the last little while, and as you get older you want to get more kicks at the can.” Tough call there. As much as the woe-is-me routine really rubs the wrong way, I think I’d have to go with the second one. Because newsflash, Marty: YOU’D HAVE HAD A KICK AT THE CAN IF YOU’D STAYED IN TAMPA BAY. It’s unfortunate the Lightning and Rangers don’t have a very good chance at meeting in the playoffs, because that would be something. It could still happen, but just looking at the standings, there’d need to be an upset or two.
Saturday: Phoenix at Washington (7 p.m. ET)
The only reason I picked this game is because I wanted to show the empty-net goal from the Capitals’ 6-4 loss to the Flyers on Wednesday:
What you just saw was a 6-on-5 for Washington, which somehow allowed itself to get outnumbered 3 to 2 in the corner, with a predictable result.
In case you’re wondering who to blame there, no, it wasn’t Alex Ovechkin’s fault. That was Joel Ward’s responsibility to recognize the situation, and he was way too late to wake up.
Why does it always seem to be the Capitals that make these kinds of mistakes?
Saturday: Minnesota at Dallas (8:30 p.m. ET)
Everyone knew it was going to take time for the Stars to climb their way back up the Dallas sports hierarchy, but there sure were a lot of empty seats for last night’s 6-1 win over Vancouver. I wonder if that was kind of disappointing for the players considering the importance of the game, and how well they performed in it. The Stars’ average attendance this season is just 13,978, which is higher than only one team in the entire NHL, the Phoenix Coyotes (13,357). Making the playoffs for the first time since 2008 would help generate some buzz in Big D, obviously. I wouldn’t even put it past the Stars to pull a first-round upset. This is a good, exciting team. Hopefully it translates into better crowds soon.
Saturday: Calgary at Vancouver (10 p.m. ET)
Why do you need to watch this game between two non-playoff teams? Because if the Canucks lose to the Flames, at home and on national TV, Kevin Bieksa and company are going to experience a brand new “rock bottom.” By the way, here’s something that rarely gets mentioned when Vancouver’s management team is taken to task: when the Canucks gave Roberto Luongo that 12-year, $64 million contract in 2009, it was basically a big middle finger to the powers that be in the NHL head office. Gary Bettman hated those front-loaded structures, and he didn’t make that a secret. While the Luongo contract didn’t technically violate the terms of the CBA, it definitely violated the spirit, and Mike Gillis, along with ownership, were naïve to think there wouldn’t be consequences. Enter the cap-recapture penalty in the new CBA, a.k.a. Bettman’s Revenge, which was a huge barrier to trading Luongo last summer, and could still hurt the Canucks down the line.
Sunday: Detroit at NY Rangers (12:30 p.m. ET)
On NBC. Streaming live, too. When I read the story about the weak Canadian dollar possibly resulting in a lower-than-expected salary cap for next season, the first player that came to mind was Brad Richards. I’ve written about this before. The way their cap situation looks right now, and especially if the cap doesn’t go up as much as originally expected, the Rangers will almost certainly have to use their remaining compliance buyout on the 33-year-old center. But here’s the thing: Richards is also New York’s leading scorer, with 44 points in 63 games. If he does become an unrestricted free agent, there won’t be any shortage of suitors for his services.