It's A Big Test for Some Top Teams [NHL Live Thread]
We begin with a stop in Columbus. They host a team that scores just as little as they do. The difference is the Wild also have 2 scary good goalies. But wait, the Jackets actually have perennially killed the Wild IN Columbus? That's right, they've won 12 of the last 16 on their home ice. However, let's remember that history only means so much, especially when you're currently the laughing stock of your sport and the team coming in, despite no scoring, still leads your division. This could get fugly fast.
Minnesota Wild @ Columbus Blue Jackets: 7:00 PM ET - FSN North, FSN Ohio
Next we go to New York City where it's the Rangers and Isles. This one is on the Island. The Rangers have won 6 straight, and don't look now, but because of that win streak they're suddenly just 2 points behind the Pens for the division lead! Meanwhile as Stoney pointed out in his weekly review, John Tavares has 8 goals for the Isles, but the team as a whole doesn't even have 30! The Rangers don't want to lose for the 3rd straight time on the Island, so don't look ahead, or the streak ends with a Ravens-style trap game.
New York Rangers @ New York Islanders: 7:00 PM ET - MSG, MSG+
Our next stop takes us north of the border where hockey is relevant in Toronto again. This is one of those tests, for BOTH teams. The Leafs host the surging Coyotes, who have beaten the Leafs 6 straight times, yikes. Phil Kessel is leading the league in scoring and goals, while Phoenix's balanced attack has made them a force to be reckoned with. Can the Leafs finally exercise some demons? Or will the 'Yotes continue to beat them like red-headed stepchildren and win for a lucky number 7th straight time?
Phoenix Coyotes @ Toronto Maple Leafs: 7:00 PM ET - FSN Arizona+, Rogers North
Next we head back into the states for a layover in Beantown where the Bruins are looking like the top team again. Tyler Seguin is damn good, period. On the other hand, even though they've won 3 of the 4 games without Kovalchuk, they're back to their same old problem, no scoring. The way the Bruins have been filling the net lately, the Devils need to find a way to score, because they're not going to win this one in their typical 2-1 fashion.
New Jersey Devils @ Boston Bruins: 7:00 PM ET - MSG+2, NESN
Next we head into the Steel City, and this could be the game of the night. Crosby still won't play, but who cares about that right now? The Avs dominated the Pens for years, but the Pens have won the last 2 in the series, and have won the last couple in Pittsburgh...big test for Colorado here against a now perennial playoff team. The Avs have hit a road block while the Pens are sitting pretty atop the Eastern Conference. One night after strangling the life out of Dallas, the Pens lost only their 4th game in regulation in Raleigh. They'll look to rebound here tonight. The key matchup is the Avs' PP against the Pens' PK, both of which rank #1 in the NHL. Something's gotta give, right?
Colorado Avalanche @ Pittsburgh Penguins: 7:30 PM ET - Versus, TSN2
We're headed west now, and we're stopping at the Gateway to the West. Here's another test for one of the league's surprising teams. The Blues have cooled off a little bit, but the story has been their goaltending. Meanwhile, since when are the Wings this streaky? They started the year 5-0, lost 6 in a row (0-5-1), and now have won 4 straight. I am finding myself wanting to ask Mike Babcock "who are you guys and what have you done with the REAL Wings?" The Blues have a goalie issue, and a good one. After a bit of a tough stretch for Halak, he pitched a shutout last week, and Brian Elliott did the same against the Lightning. If you like offense, you might want to change the channel, because something tells me this may be a goalie show all night, and an exciting one at that.
Detroit Red Wings @ St. Louis Blues: 8:00 PM ET - FSN Detroit, FSN Midwest
Music City USA is our next stop on tonight's 9-city North American tour. The Preds, behind a stingy defense and even stingier goalie Pekka Rinne, are among the top teams in the west. But they face a huge test tonight as the Caps come to town. They may have lost 3 of their last 4 games, but the Caps will still be in the top 4 or 5 of the Eastern Conference all year. Do the Preds have what it takes to beat an elite team? We'll see as they try to snap a 5-game losing streak against the Caps. Are they ready to play with the big boys? This game will tell us if they are or if they still have some work to do in Nashville.
Washington Capitals @ Nashville Predators: 8:00 PM ET - CSN Washington, FSN Tennessee
We've only got a couple more stops, so let's keep this train rolling right along. From Music City we're headed down into Big D where the stars look to rebound after failing miserably in 2 big tests against the Pens and Red Wings, being outscored 8-3 in those 2 games. Meanwhile the Panthers are lighting it up...say what?! That's right, so this game is a big test for Florida. Can THEY hang with the big boys? I think Dallas will be just fine despite those 2 losses on Friday and Saturday, but I highly doubt the Panthers are going to keep playing so well.
Florida Panthers @ Dallas Stars: 8:30 PM ET - FSN Florida, FSN Southwest
Our final stop features 2 Canadian teams that need to get their act together. Kipper looks to be back on track. A 2.02 GAA in his last five tell me that despite a 3-2 record, he played well enough to win all 5. The Sens meanwhile are coming off a win after getting a huge reality check to start November. Oh by the way, the Flames have won 3 in a row in the series, and the last time the Sens won IN Calgary...January 2003. It probably doesn't bode well for Ottawa either that Daniel Alfredsson hasn't scored a goal against the Flames in TEN YEARS! If they want to exercise their own demons in the Saddledome, they may just need Danny to end that long goal drought.
Ottawa Senators @ Calgary Flames: 9:00 PM ET - Rogers Northeast, Rogers West
This is your place to come in and talk (or bitch) about your team. Tell us about the game(s) you're watching tonight. There's an open bar and a buffet in the dining car of this Q Train, so what are you waiting for? Hop on board!