A quick look ahead at some of the narratives at play this weekend…
Toronto and Detroit duke it out
There’s plenty to play for on Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre, when Toronto hosts Detroit in a huge game for Eastern Conference playoff implications.
The Wings and Leafs head into Friday’s action tied on points, with 80, though Detroit holds the final wild card spot thanks to more wins in regulation/overtime (28 to 27). Those standings could change, however — Toronto takes on Philly tonight with the opportunity to bounce back into a wild card spot.
Saturday’s game (7 p.m. ET) between these two Original Six foes will be their fourth and final meeting of the season and, if the last three matchups were any indication, it’ll be a tightly-contested affair. Detroit won the first game 5-4 in a shootout; Toronto won the second (the ’14 Winter Classic) 3-2 in a shootout; the third game was the only one not to go to extra time, but still ended in a narrow decision — 3-2, for the Wings.
Philly hosts Boston
The Flyers and Bruins will be seeing plenty of each other over the next week — they square off this Sunday at Wells Fargo (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC), then again six days later at TD Garden.
Those will be the second and third meetings of the year between the Flyers and B’s. In the first game, Boston scored a decisive 6-1 victory on the strength of two-goal performances from both Jarome Iginla and Zdeno Chara; Philly goalie Steve Mason was hooked after allowing four goals on 19 shots.
What Philly will want to do is replicate its blueprint from the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign. Like this year, the Flyers lost their first of three matchups with the Bruins… but then rallied to defeat Boston in the second and third head-to-head battles of the season.
Tonight, there’s a big Metropolitan Division showdown at Consol as the Pittsburgh Penguins host the New York Rangers. You can catch the game on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET), or watch live online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Some relevant linkage for tonight’s affair:
Rangers ‘are doing a lot of good things’
‘I wonder if that’s Crosby, what happens?’ — AV upset after McDonagh concussed by Simmonds
Malkin (lower body) to miss rest of week
Crosby, Karlsson and Trocheck are NHL’s three stars of the week
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley seems pretty chill about healthy-scratching Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Lance Bouma. That goes for Monahan and Gaudreau in particular, noting that they’re “great kids.”
Besides … it’s not like they robbed a bank. (NHL.com)
Uh oh, did Nazem Kadri make the throat-slashing gesture to Mark Giordano? See for yourself in the video above. (Puck Daddy)
What should the New York Islanders do with unrestricted free agent Kyle Okposo, who’s enjoying a productive contract year? (The Hockey News)
What a playoff berth would mean to the Florida Panthers. (Sportsnet)
Checking in with various teams as the trade deadline looms. (NHL Numbers)
On the Canucks using those Pavel Bure-era jerseys. (Greatest Hockey Legends)
The Minnesota Wild put together the kind of effort that would beat a lot of NHL teams on Tuesday. Unfortunately for that beleaguered group, it wasn’t enough to edge the Dallas Stars.
Despite generating 40 shots on goal and generating 1-0 and 2-1 leads, the Wild lost to the Stars 4-3 in overtime. With that, they’ve lost six straight games.
(The view doesn’t get much prettier if you pull away a little further, either, as Minnesota’s only won once in the last month, going 1-9-2 in their last 12.)
Ultimately, the Stars’ big guns were too powerful. Tyler Seguin generated two assists and so did Jamie Benn, who set up John Klingberg‘s overtime game-winning goal.
Again, the effort sure seemed to be there for the Wild, even if they’re far beyond the point of accepting moral victories.
As frustrating as this must be, Minnesota’s not that far from a playoff spot. Still, it has to sting to see “Close, but not good enough” as a prevailing theme as of late.
The Boston Bruins welcomed Milan Lucic back on Tuesday. Maybe they shouldn’t have extended such a warm welcome to the Los Angeles Kings overall, however.
You won’t see many games as lopsided as this one, at least in 2015-16, as the Kings walloped the Bruins by a humbling score of 9-2.
Lucic wasn’t just there, either, as he scored a goal and an assist in his quite triumphant return to Boston.
Tuukka Rask had a short night in Boston’s net, yet it wasn’t as if Jonas Gustavsson enjoyed his time. It was a pretty sound beating by all accounts.
This dominant win is a heck of a way for the Kings to begin an imposing seven-game road trip, which continues against the New York Islanders on Thursday. The Bruins probably want to burn the tape on this one themselves, as they’re about to head on a six-game road trip.