Games You Can't Miss on This NHL Weekend's Schedule
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Teams are preparing for the final stretch, and playoff positioning takes center stage this weekend as contenders look to solidify their spots in the postseason. Pressure is mounting on underachieving clubs, and the gap between in and out of the playoffs is growing.
The new NHL realignment will end some very exciting rivalries—but not this weekend. Here is the full slate of games you can’t miss.
New Jersey Devils at Philadelphia Flyers, March 15
It's an important game for the Flyers as the Devils look to finish the sweep this week.
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TV: MSG-Plus, CSN-Philly
Start: 7 p.m. EST
Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov put some heavy words on the home-and-home series with the New Jersey Devils this week. He told Sam Carchidi of The Inquirer that these two games could make or break the season (via Philly.com).
You win both games, and you tied with them and you have a good chance to continue to battle for the playoffs," he said after Tuesday's practice in Voorees, N.J. "You lose both games, you done. You done. That's it. This is it. This is probably reality. You'd be eight points behind ...and not many games to catch up. It would be very, very difficult. It's not going to depend on you (if you lose two), it's going to depend more on other teams than you. That's the importance of these games.
The Devils won game one, 5-2, at home on March 13.
Ottawa Senators at Buffalo Sabres, March 16
Buffalo should have its No. 1 goaltender back for this contest.
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Start: 2 p.m. EST
Ryan Miller will reportedly be in goal for the Sabres on Saturday against a tough Ottawa team that has found a way to stay in the playoff hunt without some major pieces.
The Senators are picking up points despite not picking up wins recently. Ottawa has just one win in the last seven contests but has managed to pick up six points.
Ottawa has snagged the first two wins in this four-game season series, but those were both in Ottawa. Does home ice do the trick for Buffalo?
New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins, March 16
King Henrik or King Crosby?
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TV: MSG, Root Sports
Start: 1 p.m. EST
There is no one in the league hotter than the Pittsburgh Penguins, but the New York Rangers are trying to stay in the No. 8 spot and hold off a charging Winnipeg Jets team. There is a lot of energy for both teams to feed—if they wake up early enough.
What a better way to start off a Saturday than with these two teams? Pittsburgh is 2-0 against New York this season, including 6-3 and 3-0 decisions. The Pens picked up both of those wins on the road. We will see if New York can do the same.
Minnesota Wild at Colorado Avalanche, March 16
It's always a battle between these two Northwest Division rivals.
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TV: Fox Sports North, Fox Sports Wisconsin, Altitude Sports
Start: 3 p.m. EST
In another home-and-home matchup, the Minnesota Wild look to keep pace in an airtight race for the Western Conference playoffs. These two Northwest Division rivals are part of a ridiculously close division that has just six points separating the top from the bottom.
The entire division has played basically .500-hockey in the last 10 games, leaving the division open for the taking. This is the fourth of five meetings between these two teams this season.
San Jose Sharks at Los Angeles Kings, March 16
Always physical, always exciting, these two California teams provide enough fireworks for every NHL fan.
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TV: CSN-California, Fox Sports West
Start: 10:30 p.m. EST
A five-hour drive on Interstate-5 separates these two teams which provides a nice highway for trash talk and great hockey. The Los Angeles Kings have overcome the Stanley Cup hangover and have climbed the Western Conference standings.
Trending in the other direction, the Sharks started off red hot and have collapsed since. Still, San Jose is very much in the thick of things in the Western Conference.
These Pacific Division foes face off four times this season—starting with this one. Those eight points could be huge.
Boston Bruins at Pittsburgh Penguins, March 17
Conference supremacy may take a back seat to protecting assets this weekend.
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Start: 12:30 p.m. EST
A tough weekend of games for the Pittsburgh Penguins finishes with a meeting with the Boston Bruins on Sunday. The Pens have back-to-back early afternoon games, which will make this game even more interesting.
Pittsburgh snagged the first game of the series 3-2 earlier in the week and should be significantly worn down by the time this matchup rolls around. Tuukka Rask didn’t play against the Penguins the first time these two teams met, but Pittsburgh’s No. 1, Marc-Andre Fleury did.
How Dan Bylsma handles the Pittsburgh roster this weekend will be interesting, as a loss won’t hurt anything for either team. They are both sitting comfortably atop the Eastern Conference standings.
Other Games Worth Keeping an Eye On:
Detroit Red Wings at Vancouver Canucks, March 16 at 10 p.m. EST
Winnipeg Jets at Toronto Maple Leafs, March 16 at 7 p.m. EST
Winnipeg Jets at Ottawa Senators, March 17 at 5 p.m. EST