Skip March Madness and Watch These 5 NHL Games This Weekend
Largely overshadowed by the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight match-ups this weekend is another group of crucial games in the NHL.
With just a few weeks remaining in the regular season and a very close playoff race in both the Eastern and Western Conference, the NHL should be as popular as ever.
Instead ESPN is going with the non-stop coverage of the big March Madness games tonight.
For those of you hockey fans that are loyal to the sport and are looking forward to the rest of the NHL season, consider this your viewing guide for a weekend of great games.
Feel free to comment below with other games to keep an eye on.
Montreal Canadiens at Boston Bruins: Thursday
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No game better kicks off the weekend than when the Montreal Canadiens travel to Boston to take on the Bruins for the first time since the now famous Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty.
This game already has a rivalry atmosphere, but there will be a lot more on the line than just bragging rights tonight.
Chara was sent off the ice for his hit in the previous game, so this will be the first time the Canadiens players will have a chance to go after him.
Besides the obvious payback storyline for this game, there is actually more important things that will come out of this game.
As of now these two teams would meet as the three versus six match-up in the playoffs. The Bruins currently sit three points ahead of the Canadiens, and a win for Montreal here would put them only a single point behind Boston in the Northeast Division.
This game should feature plenty of hits, fights, and talented hockey and is a must watch for any NHL fan.
Anaheim Ducks at Nashville Predators: Thursday
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Whenever the teams that currently sit in seventh and eight place meet with only a few weeks left in the season the game is must watch hockey.
This is the case Thursday when the seventh seeded Nashville Predators take on the eighth seeded Anaheim Ducks.
The Western Conference could not be an closer in the bottom half of the playoff teams, with both these teams only four points from being the 4th seed, but also two points from being out of the playoffs.
Both teams have been on fire of late, with the Ducks winning eight of their last ten and the Predators winning seven of their last ten.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers: Thursday
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The final match-up to keep an eye on on Thursday is when the Philadelphia Flyers welcome the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Flyers and Pens are long time rivals, and will be battling it out for Pennsylvania superiority.
The Pens are still without Sidney Crosby, who has progressed but is still not completely game ready. They will also be without Matt Cooke, who was suspended for the remainder of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs after a dirty elbow to the head of a New York Rangers player.
These are the top two teams in the Atlantic division, and the five point differential between them could easily be made up over these final weeks.
The Flyers also need the win to help hold off a Washington Capitals squad that has been hot of late and took down the Flyers on Wednesday.
Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes: Friday/Saturday
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The Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes will have a home and home on Friday and Saturday with a lot at stake for both teams.
Although it is very unlikely that Tampa Bay will fall completely out of the playoffs as they have a 11 point cushion right now, the Lightning have played poorly of late and need to get things together before the playoffs start.
The Lightning are also right on the line of having home ice advantage for the first round, and losses on Friday and Saturday would probably help to push them below that line.
The Hurricanes have even more to play for than the Lightning as right now they sit in ninth place and three points out of the playoffs.
The Canes will need to get all four points out of these meetings if they want to contend for that final playoff spot.
Hockey may not be that big in the South, but fans in Tampa and Carolina are in for two great games this weekend.
San Jose Sharks at Phoenix Coyotes: Saturday
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The top two teams in the Pacific Division will meet to cap off a great weekend of hockey with a lot on the line.
The Sharks currently sit three points ahead of the Coyotes and sit in third to Phoenix's fourth.
In a hyper-competitive West, both teams sit at most eight points away from being out of the playoffs, and will be scrapping for every last point they can gain.
The Sharks are on a four game win streak including a big win Wednesday night.
With the Kings, Ducks and Dallas all nipping at the heels of these two teams in the Pacific Division whoever wins this match-up will give themselves a big advantage in winning the division.