Dec 26, 2010, 11:00 AM EST
Now that you’ve opened your presents and/or completed your feats of strength, it’s time for the NHL to get back to business. Look no further than Sunday’s slate of games, with 11 contests on tap. As always, start times are according to Eastern Standard Time (ET).
Nashville @ St. Louis
The Blues began their five-game homestand by beating the Detroit Red Wings 4-3, so now they host another Central Division foe in the form of the Predators. Nashville is on a three game losing streak and only hold a one-point lead over St. Louis, so Jaroslav Halak & Co. could leapfrog them with a win in this game.
Washington @ Carolina
The Capitals played well against the Penguins on Thursday, but ultimately left the contest with only one point. Chances are solid that they’ll go into tonight’s skirmish with the Hurricanes with a chip on their collective shoulders, so Cam Ward better prepare for a barrage.
Columbus @ Chicago
With a three-game winning streak and a fairly hot goalie in Corey Crawford, Chicago is getting its act together despite injuries to Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa. They’ll greet a collapsing Columbus club that coach Scott Arniel referred to “pee wees” late last week. While that should be a sign that the Blackhawks should win, they better not take the Blue Jackets (and their bruised egos) lightly in this one.
Montreal @ NY Islanders
The Canadiens are slipping a bit and with the Bruins are rapidly approaching in their rear-view mirrors, they need to win games like this one. The Islanders are showing a little spunk as of late, though, with two wins in a row. If nothing else, Garth Snow’s embattled gang clearly stands above the sad-sack Devils right now.
Detroit @ Minnesota
The Wild might not enjoy the trap talk, but all that matters right now is that Niklas Backstrom is playing absolutely lights-out hockey. Not coincidentally, the Wild are on a three game winning streak and seem intent to make the Western Conference playoff picture even more muddled. Visiting them is the (relatively) stumbling Red Wings, who are 4-5-1 in their last 10 and must face the sobering reality of Pavel Datsyuk’s month-long (or so) absence.
Toronto @ New Jersey
Misery loves company, right? If that’s true, then these teams need to get together more often.
Tampa Bay @ Atlanta
This game features a matchup between two teams that are graduating from the Southeast Division Kiddie Table to the Eastern Conference’s elite. The Thrashers briefly stole the Lightning’s thunder with a big winning streak, but Tampa Bay now holds a games-in-hand based divisional lead over Washington. Beating Dustin Byfuglien & Co. would allow them to retain that margin even if the Capitals crush Carolina.
Pittsburgh @ Ottawa
He might not get much camera time on 24/7 (despite having the kind of hair that would draw in a few fans from the Twilight demographic), but Kris Letang has been an underrated motor in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ great recent run. Yet he might not be in such a position of power if the team hadn’t made the difficult choice to let former power play QB (and big minutes eater) Sergei Gonchar flee to the Senators. It’s hard to argue with that decision now, especially considering Gonchar’s ugly -19 rating.
Phoenix @ Dallas
What a difference a year makes, eh? Not too long ago, the story was former Stars coach Dave Tippett working miracles with a seemingly hopeless Coyotes team while Marc Crawford coached another lost season in Dallas. While Tippett really isn’t doing an awful job now, my guess is that Stars fans (at least the scant amounts paying attention right now) aren’t missing him as much right now. The Stars currently hold the lead in the Pacific Division – however slim – while the ‘Yotes are stalling out in fifth.
Could it be that Joe Nieuwendyk dismissed the 2009-10 coach of the year to hire the 2010-11 Jack Adams winner?
Edmonton @ Vancouver
Last time these two teams played, the Oilers only managed 12 shots on goal. Hey, at least it cannot get much worse. Right?
Anaheim @ Los Angeles
If you only looked at standings point, it would seem like the Kings are barely better than the Ducks so far. Yet they’ve earned one more point in five less games played. so don’t sleep on Los Angeles as the new year approaches.
- Video: Dustin Brown ejected for kneeing, Tomas Hertl won’t return (update) 16
- No supplemental discipline for Caps’ Wilson 28
- Habs healthy scratch Briere for first time this season 6
- Chiarelli says he’s not trading Marchand 20
- Schenn to play tonight; Oates maintains Wilson hit was ‘totally clean’ 53
- Video: ‘The message is not being heard’ when it comes to illegal hits, suspensions 52
- Video: Kunitz collides with Rangers’ goalie Lundqvist in overtime (Updated) 58
- Discuss: Penguins outlast Rangers in the shootout on NBCSN Rivalry Night 43
- Video: Jagr passes Yzerman for eighth on NHL goals list 12
- Wild put Harding on IR to undergo change in MS treatment 16
- Updated: NHL suspends Thornton 15 games for Orpik attack (155)
- Janssen: Orpik should’ve fought Thornton, then ‘everything would have quieted down’ (123)
- Reports: Thornton will appeal 15-game suspension (107)
- Lucic addresses fight video, says he’s ‘disgusted and outraged’ by Vancouver (103)
- Cam Neely questions length of Thornton’s suspension (78)