TGIF: Five NHL games to watch this weekend

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Saturday: Boston at Philadelphia (1 p.m. ET)

A few Flyers fans disagreed when I brought this up on Twitter, but I still feel like Paul Holmgren could’ve driven a harder bargain with Steve Mason. Really, what leverage did Mason have in his situation? Before signing that three-year, $12.3 million extension, he was a 25-year-old pending restricted free agent with a career .906 save percentage. Yeah, he played great earlier this season. He may have been the Flyers’ MVP actually. But you’ll remember he also played pretty well in his rookie season with Columbus. Goalies get hot sometimes. They also get cold. In eight January games, Mason’s save percentage is a troublesome .885. And that was after 11 December appearances when it was .899.

Saturday: Pittsburgh at Dallas (8 p.m. ET)

When Kris Letang fired home Sidney Crosby’s pass Thursday against the beleaguered Islanders, all I could think was, how in the world did Boston hold these guys to two goals in four games?

(The answer, of course, is “layers.”)

Saturday: Anaheim at Los Angeles (9:30 p.m. ET)

Outdoors at Dodger Stadium, where the temperature at puck drop should be in the mid-60s. So no, for God’s sake, the ice isn’t going to be melting under the players’ skates. “It’s not that big a deal,” said Kings coach Darryl Sutter. “The temperature is the very same as the building temperature. When you come in the building, it’s 65 and above. It actually might be cooler.” That said, it’s been hotter in L.A. than the NHL expected, so the ice surface may not be perfect, even after the sun goes down and the temperature begins to fall.

Saturday: Minnesota at San Jose (10:30 p.m. ET)

I don’t think anyone was shocked that Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau signed contract extensions with the Sharks, but it sure did shed some light on the lack of quality pending unrestricted free agents. Which is to say, Paul Stastny is in a pretty good bargaining position with the Avs, who I figure may have to choose between him and Ryan O’Reilly. Other than Stastny, it’s slim pickings for pending UFA centers. Mikhail Grabovski, Dave Bolland, and David Legwand aren’t bad players, but they’re more in the complementary department. (If they even reach free agency.)

Sunday: NY Rangers at New Jersey (12:30 p.m. ET)

Outdoors at Yankee Stadium, where melting ice probably won’t be a problem. Another thing that hasn’t been a problem lately is Henrik Lundqvist, who boasts a .936 save percentage in January. In December, that number was .888, which caused great concern considering the big extension he’d just signed. King Henrik’s improved play is also good news for Sweden heading into the Olympics, where it could be argued they’ll be the second-deepest team after Canada.