Only three weekends to go before the NHL playoffs start. Here are five games to watch this weekend, each with at least one desperate team involved:
Tonight — Calgary at Minnesota (8 p.m. ET)
Now one point back of the surging Kings, and with just eight games to go (six on the road), Calgary could really use a win here. The Wild, meanwhile, could open a six-point playoff cushion with a regulation victory. And while it’s unlikely, there’s still an outside shot Minnesota could catch Chicago for third spot in the Central.
Saturday — NY Rangers at Boston (1 p.m. ET)
Spend the afternoon watching the Bruins fight for their playoff lives, versus the only team that’s officially clinched. The B’s, winless in their last six, know there will be “consequences” if they don’t get the job done. And lately, well, they just haven’t been getting the job done. Oh, and this could also be Henrik Lundqvist’s first game back. In case that interests anyone.
Saturday — Los Angeles at Minnesota (8 p.m. ET)
Even after three impressive road wins, the Kings could still become the first defending champs since the 2006-07 Hurricanes to miss the playoffs. Regulation losses Saturday to the Wild and Monday in Chicago are certainly plausible, no? That could leave the Kings in need of four wins in their final six games to qualify. Best for them they get a point or two against the Wild and ‘Hawks.
Sunday — Florida at Ottawa (5 p.m. ET)
A Panthers loss here would basically be it for them, even if they manage to upset the Habs Saturday in Montreal. Florida also plays Tuesday in Boston. Win all three and maybe we’ll find some optimism, but the end seems near for a Panthers side that’s gamely hung around all season. (Obviously, a big game for Sens too. They play in Toronto Saturday against the sideshow Leafs.)
Sunday — Boston at Carolina (5 p.m. ET)
Do not look at the standings and expect the Bruins to roll over the Hurricanes. Carolina soundly outplayed the B’s the last time they met, Jan. 4 in Raleigh, where Boston didn’t get its first shot until 17 minutes into the first period. It was that loss, in fact, that preceded the infamous warning from Charlie Jacobs.