The Columbus Blue Jackets are relevant again. Traditional hockey markets rejoice?
Points are coming at a premium as we approach the final month of the 2013 NHL season. With 20 games on the schedule this weekend, there is plenty of hockey but fewer marquee matchups.
The general managers finished up their meetings on Wednesday after discussing some potential rule changes—and undoubtedly some trades. Fireworks could be flying this weekend on and off the ice, but here are the games you can’t miss.
Corey Perry, Pavel Datsyuk, Ryan Getzlaf and Jimmy Howard all on the ice together? I'm in.
TV: Fox Sports Detroit, Prime
Start: March 22, 10 p.m. EDT and March 24, 8 p.m. EDT
The West Coast games don’t get as much press as the ones in the East, but this is the first of back-to-back games for the Ducks against the Red Wings. Detroit starts its West Coast swing in Anaheim on Friday, takes a day off and does it all again on Sunday.
Interesting scheduling for both teams as the Red Wings hope to maintain their playoff position. They are 5-6-2 on the road this season against one of the league’s best home-ice teams. Anaheim is 13-1-0 at home this season.
The Ducks are chasing Chicago for the Presidents’ Trophy and top spot in the West, so don’t expect any let downs here. Recent contracts for Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf will keep the Honda Center crowd buzzing.
When the Canucks and Kings get together, things can get messy.
TV: Fox Sports West
Start: 4 p.m. EDT
The Los Angeles Kings won’t be sneaking up on anyone anytime soon. They may have changed the complexion of playoff seeding forever after last season’s run. That run began against the same Vancouver Canucks.
The Canucks aren’t the top team in the West and are jockeying for Northwest Division supremacy this season, but this is one of the budding rivalries in the West. The Canucks and Kings are dangerous teams that haven’t met expectations, but no one will want to see them in the postseason.
LA took the first game in a shootout. Vancouver countered with a 5-2 win on home ice. This is the final game of the season series and the last before a potential meeting in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. That would be fun, wouldn’t it?
Are the Blue Jackets changing the guard in the Central Division?
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Tennessee
Start: 8 p.m. EDT
How much fun is this? Anyone that is a fan of the NHL can take some pride in what is going on in the Buckeye State. The Columbus Blue Jackets are not a bottom-dwelling team anymore. In fact, the Jackets are quite relevant.
To be able to feature them in a positive light is quite refreshing. Columbus is on the verge of just the second playoff berth in franchise history (2008-09). The same city that lost the All-Star Game and longtime captain Rick Nash this season is pressing its way to the postseason.
They face a slumping Nashville team that is looking to turn things around. Could the Predators be the only team in the Central Division that doesn’t make the postseason?
These two teams are trending in opposite directions but this rivalry is never one to miss.
TV: NBC Sports, Root Sports
Start: 7:30 p.m. EDT
It’s the Flyers and the Penguins, do you really need more reasons to watch?
If you’re a Flyers fan, about the only thing that can put a silver lining around this disappointing season is winning both games in Pittsburgh. The Penguins snagged wins in both games in Philadelphia—a Flyers win would at least slow the bleeding.
While the Flyers aren’t mathematically out of the postseason, it will be an uphill battle.
Meanwhile, the Pens are comfortably seated atop the Atlantic Division. It doesn’t look like anyone will knock them off that perch this season and taking three of four from the in-state rivals would only make this season sweeter.