NHL Schedule: 3 Matchups You Can't Miss on Hockey Day in Canada 2013
Hockey Day in Canada 2013 is Saturday, and it will be a celebration of the greatest game on Earth with four exciting matchups featuring all seven of Canada's NHL franchises.
CBC will televise each game in what promises to be a day full of exciting hockey, with each team involved battling for crucial points in the standings.
Let's look at three games you cannot miss on Hockey Day in Canada (full schedule at bottom of article).
Edmonton Oilers at Detroit Red Wings
The Oilers are the only Canadian team that won't play at home on Saturday, but their matchup with the Detroit Red Wings could be the highest-scoring matchup of the day.
Edmonton is still in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but the team has been dropping points in overtime recently. The Oilers have lost four straight games, and three of those came after regulation.
Taking two points against Detroit will not be easy because the Red Wings have won three out of their last five games after a slow start to the season. Detroit has one of the most impressive top-six forward groups in the NHL, and rookie Damien Brunner has been a valuable addition to the team's scoring depth.
The key for Edmonton will be to jump out to an early lead. The Red Wings have some defensive issues, with injuries preventing key defensemen from staying healthy, and they currently rank 20th in goals against and 29th on the penalty kill.
Will Edmonton make the playoffs?
Special teams could be the difference for the Oilers. Their power play has been on fire this season, ranking fourth in the league with a 28.3 percent success rate.
Since both of these teams don't defend well and have many talented goal scorers, this could be the most exciting matchup of Hockey Day in Canada.
Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens
These Northeast Division rivals last met on opening night, where the Leafs earned a 2-1 victory. Since that loss, the Canadiens have won six of their last nine games and their offense has been fantastic.
Montreal ranks seventh in goals scored and ninth in power-play percentage. And the return of defensemen Andrei Markov from injury has made a huge difference to the team's blue line.
"[Markov] sees the ice well and really moves the puck well," said Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien on Wednesday. "He's got an unbelievable shot and he just controls everything back there. I know for a fact as long as he's healthy they're a really good team [in their own end]."
Markov leads the Canadiens with 10 points (four goals, six assists) and has been a strong defensive presence in front of star goaltender Carey Price.
Which team is more likely to make the playoffs?
For the Leafs to win this game, they cannot fall behind early in the first period. Price is not a goalie you want to be facing when trying to erase a deficit, and since the Toronto penalty kill has been poor this season (24th in the league), the Leafs defensemen cannot make mistakes in their own end. The Canadiens have scored a power-play goal in nine of their 10 games this season.
The Leafs are playing well at both ends of the ice right now, and a win against the Canadiens at the Bell Centre would give Randy Carlyle's team its first three-game winning streak of the season. However, it's hard to imagine the Leafs winning this game without a strong performance from goaltender James Reimer.
Calgary Flames at Vancouver Canucks
The Flames will attempt to end the Canucks' four-game winning streak when they travel to Vancouver in search of their first three-game winning streak of the season.
Calgary has won back-to-back games after a terrible 1-3-2 start to the season, but the team is still struggling to defend. The Flames rank 25th in goals against and 28th in penalty kill, and the impressive offensive skill on the Vancouver Canucks roster will provide a tough challenge for the Calgary blue line.
Star goaltenders Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo have been defeated just once in regulation over the last two weeks, and the team is also getting some much-needed scoring from role players such as Mason Raymond, Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen.
For the Flames to win this game and earn two points against a division rival, they must have a strong third period. Calgary has scored the second-fewest third-period goals (five) in the league this season, and the Canucks have given up just one third-period goal in their last four games.
This is an important game for the Flames because a win would put them just one point out of the playoff race after being at the bottom of the Western Conference standings just a few days ago.
Full Hockey Day in Canada Schedule
|12:00 p.m.||Celebrating the Game: Part 1|
|2:00 p.m.||Edmonton Oilers at Detroit Red Wings|
|2:00 p.m.||Winnipeg Jets at Ottawa Senators|
|5:00 p.m.||Celebrating the Game: Part 2
|6:30 p.m.||Hockey Tonight|
|7:00 p.m.||Toronto maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens|
|10:00 p.m.||Calgary Flames at Vancouver Canucks|
Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter. All quotes obtained firsthand or from the Boston Bruins media website, unless otherwise noted.
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