Philly/Jersey, Sharks Head East, and the Caps Try for #15 [NHL Live Thread]
The top team in the west jump starts the night as they head into Columbus to meet the easternmost team in the Western Conference. The Jackets have won 2 in a row, but overall they've fallen and can't get up. Meanwhile the Sharks are cruising along with 87 points, 1 behind the league leading Caps for the President's Trophy race.
Also at 7:00 on the east coast, the Preds hit the Big Apple. One of the pleasant surprises this year, Nashville will face a Rangers team who will be without Marian Gaborik. He got cut in the leg with a skate in practice, and will miss tonight's game. Who knows how long he'll be out this time, but they were struggling recently with him in the lineup, and not having him will only make that offense worse.
All 5 Atlantic Division teams are in action tonight, and 4 of them are playing each other. The Flyers travel to Newark, where they have a chance to win the season series over the Devils for the first time in 6 years. The Devils have seen their lead in the division over the Pens dwindle to just 2 points, losing 10 of 14. The first part of this home-home series saw the Flyers score 3 goals to beat the Devils 3-2, who had led 2-0.
At 7:30, the Caps will try to tie the 2nd longest win streak in NHL history. They found a way to win on Sunday after, if you ask me, the Pens played sit on the lead in the 3rd period. In the end, the Caps won in OT 5-4 to extend their winning streak to 14. They'll try to inch even closer to the mark of 17 set by the Pens in the final 17 games of 1993. 15 is the record that Pittsburgh broke 17 years ago, and that mark of 15 belongs to the Islanders in 1981-82 back when they were in the midst of their 4-peat of Stanley Cups. The Habs meanwhile just lost their GM and are smack dab in the middle of the clusterf*** of teams in the Eastern Conference.
Speaking of the 2 teams with the longest winning streaks in NHL history, they face off in Pittsburgh where, despite another bad snowstorm, the game will go on as scheduled. For the Pens, a win and a regulation loss by the Devils would put them in a tie for the Atlantic Division lead. The Isles have unfortunately started playing like the Isles again, going 2-8 in their last 10 and falling to 13th in the conference.
At 8:00, the surprising Coyotes, who just had a 6-game winning streak snapped by Detroit and followed it up with a 6-1 laugher against Edmonton, will go to Minneapolis trying to sweep the Wild for the first time in franchise history. The Wild have been playing .500 hockey lately, and a win would be a welcome sight as they try to climb back up the ladder in the west.
At 9:00, the Thrashers come crashing into Denver, and I mean that literally. Atlanta has won a grand total of 3 road games since early December...YIKES! This is the only meeting between these 2 teams this year, and the Avs are trying to snap a 3-game losing streak.
The finale is in Anaheim, where the Ducks have a chance to move further up the ranks in the west. A win tonight would jump them over the idle Stars and tie them with the also idle Red Wings for 9th in the west, and just 2 points out of the playoffs. They have a great chance to do it too, as they host the newest laughing stock of the league, Edmonton. The Oilers are now 7 points behind Toronto for the worst record in the NHL, and they're greatly increasing their chance of winning the #1 draft pick by going 2-7-1 in their last 10. Here's the full lineup...
7:00 PM ET:
San Jose Sharks @ Columbus Blue Jackets
Nashville Predators @ New York Rangers
Philadelphia Flyers @ New Jersey Devils
7:30 PM ET:
Washington Capitals @ Montreal Canadiens
New York Islanders @ Pittsburgh Penguins
8:00 PM ET:
Phoenix Coyotes @ Minnesota Wild
9:00 PM ET:
Atlanta Thrashers @ Colorado Avalanche
10:00 PM ET:
Edmonton Oilers @ Anaheim Ducks
You know the tagline, folks, this is your place to come talk (or bitch) about the game(s) you're watching tonight!