There are seven games on the schedule tonight with a couple of them being extremely important with respect to the playoffs. The big game in the East is Atlanta at Tampa. Atlanta currently trails Tampa, New Jersey and Montreal by 5 points as those 3 teams are tied for 6th, 7th and 8th spot in the east. Atlanta does hold a game in hand but a loss would make it difficult to catch the Lightning in their final 10 games. New Jersey who is coming off a big shootout victory over the Oilers take on the struggling Sabres who broke a 6 game winning streak with a win over Boston yesterday. We’ll have to see if that was enough to break their slump but we know that the Devils have much more motivation to win and being rested might be able to surprise the Sabres. Montreal is also in action tonight against the lowly Capitals and should win this game barring an outburst by Ovechkin and stellar goaltending by Kolzig.
In the west the big game is Los Angeles at Edmonton with Los Angeles being in a similar position to Atlanta. Los Angeles which has been free falling in the standings for the last couple months would fall 5 points out of a playoff spot if they lose to the 8th place Oilers. With just 8 games left after tonight and with San Jose also in the mix (and with games in hand) a Los Angeles loss would almost end their playoff hopes. San Jose who sits 2 points back of the Oilers but have 2 games in hand play Phoenix tonight.
Another game that could result in an upset is the Rangers-Senators game. Since the Senators are at home and the Rangers played last night the Senators should have a significant advantage in this game. But the Senators are an injury riddled team at the moment, particularly on defense where Chara and Phillips, who they use to shut down the opposing teams best players, will both be out of action. This is not good news as Jagr has been tearing up the league lately (8g, 11a, 19 points in last 8 games). The Senators better hope Jagr is a bit tired playing his 3rd game in 4 nights and/or Ray Emery has an outstanding night in goal or else this could get messy for Ottawa. An upset is a definite possibility. Update: Apparently Wade Redden will be out of the lineup as well as he has returned home to Alberta to attend to some family matters. An upset is even more likely now.
|Tampa Bay||-105||Atlanta||105||Tampa Bay||Some|
|San Jose||-115||Phoenix||113||San Jose||Some|