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.