The Minnesota Wild aren't going to be intimidated by anyone anymore. Chicago might be able to change that.
Three weeks are all that separates teams from the postseason and the offseason. It’s a cloudy picture for the playoffs in both conferences. Eight teams are four points or less from making the playoffs in their respective conferences.
Points come at a premium this time of year. One overtime game down the stretch could be the difference between in and out. As we prepare for the final three weeks of the season, here are the games you can’t miss for the week of April 7.
Outside of Chicago, the Central Division has one of the fiercest playoff races going.
Start: 12:30 p.m. EST
NBC kicks this loaded week of hockey off with a great Central Division rivalry. The St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings are not only jockeying for the divisional pecking order, but the final spots in the playoff picture.
St. Louis is surviving with a platoon in net, and the Red Wings are scraping together points to keep their consecutive playoff streak alive. Joe Louis Arena in Detroit is always a tough place to play, but the Blues are fighting for their playoff lives.
Goals and goaltending. When the Ducks and Kings get together, no one knows what will happen and that makes it worth the watch.
TV: Fox Sports West, Prime
Start: 9 p.m. EST
Who likes goals? If you nodded your head, make sure you find a TV to turn on game three of a four-game regular-season series between the Kings and Ducks. In the first two, these teams combined for 18 goals.
They have split the series with the home team taking each game. Anaheim hosts the Kings for the second time led by Nick Bonino. Bonino has four points against the Kings this season.
Los Angeles counters with Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar, who both have four points against the Ducks. This game could be a high-scoring affair. Or the goaltenders in Jonathan Quick (LA) and Viktor Fasth (ANA) could take over and make it low-scoring one.
Either way, this game is worth your eyes.
The Flyers were supposed to be down and out. They're back up and looking to take down the Islanders.
TV: CSN-Philadelphia, MSG Plus
Start: 7 p.m. EST
Does anyone remember a few weeks ago when the Philadelphia Flyers were written off and supposed to just focus on next year? They’re back and just three points out of the final playoff spot—the one held by the New York Islanders.
Philadelphia has been awful on the road this season (5-12-1) and will need to turn that around if it wants to continue its climb to the postseason. New York isn’t much better at home (7-11-2).
These two points will be crucial in the Eastern Conference picture.
Jason Pominville's addition to the Wild could make Minnesota a very dangerous team in the West. A win over Chicago would make a statement.
TV: NBC Sports, CSN-Chicago
Start: 8 p.m. EST
The Minnesota Wild bolstered their lineup at the deadline acquiring Jason Pominville. Pominville will help provide more scoring depth on a solid Wild offense.
Speaking of solid offenses, the Chicago Blackhawks have firepower of their own. With 122 goals this season, the Hawks lead the Western Conference.
Minnesota wants to prove it can play with the big guns and a win in front of a rowdy home crowd should do it. Unfortunately, beating the Blackhawks isn’t easy this season.
Expect a physical, but skilled, game in St. Paul.
San Jose is the hottest team in the league right now, but a trip to HockeyTown can cool off any team.
TV: CSN-California, Fox Sports-Detroit
Start: 7:30 p.m. EST
Another heated battle in the western conference features the San Jose Sharks and Detroit Red Wings. San Jose currently sits fifth in the Western Conference standings, but there isn’t any room for error.
San Jose has been on an absolute tear lately—winners of six straight. It has righted the ship that appeared to be sinking faster than the Titanic. Now, the Sharks have their eyes set on the No. 4 spot in the West.
Detroit would love to slow that charge. These two teams split the first two games of the series including a shootout win for Detroit and a 2-0 win for San Jose. This is the last of three meetings.
Newly acquired goaltender Ben Bishop shut out Southeast Division rival Carolina in his Tampa Bay debut. Can he have the same success against the division-leading Capitals and Alex Ovechkin?
TV: CSN-DC, Fox Sports-Florida
Start: 7 p.m. EST
The Southeast Division is good for two things—close playoff races and offensive superstars. This matchup features Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals on a ridiculous hot streak. Ovechkin has points in nine of his last 10 games (15 points).
For the Lightning, Steven Stamkos is never far from the highlight reel. This is the second meeting this week for the Bolts and Caps. They split the first two meetings in Tampa Bay.
By this time next week, the Southeast Division could belong to the Capitals, or the Lightning could make things extremely interesting. This could be a fun game to watch—if you’re into the Southeast kind of thing.