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Around the Rink – Thursday, January 20th

Jan 20, 2011, 4:35 PM EDT

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There’s 12 games on the slate tonight, so let’s take a quick look at them. All start times are Eastern Standard Time (ET) as usual.

7:00 pm

Tampa Bay @ Atlanta

Both teams are trying to hold off different Southeast Division rivals with a win tonight; the Lightning hope to maintain their lead over the Capitals for the division lead while the Thrashers are trying to stay ahead of the Hurricanes for a playoff spot.

Ottawa @ Philadelphia

The Senators have been floundering lately (1-6-3 in their last 10). Playing the best team in the East isn’t exactly the best way to fix that problem, either.

NY Rangers @ Carolina

The injury-depleted Rangers take on a  Hurricanes club that was making a move up the standings into playoff contention, but is now on a two game losing streak.

Washington @ NY Islanders

This looks like a mismatch on paper, yet it’s closer when you consider the fact that the Caps are average on the road (9-9-3) while the Isles are moderately competitive at home (8-9-4).

Pittsburgh @ New Jersey

Speaking of tougher matches in context, the Penguins visit Newark without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin tonight. Should make for a more interesting game.

Buffalo @ Boston

While the Sabres hope to scrape their way to a playoff spot, the Bruins have a chance to solidify their Northeast Division lead over the wounded Canadiens.

Anaheim @ Toronto

Pick your goalie-based storyline: it’s either J.S. Giguere vs. his old team or Jonas (Hiller) vs. Jonas (Gustavsson). Unless the Ducks start Curtis McElhinney instead.

8:00 pm

Detroit @ St. Louis

The fact that this game will take place in St. Louis should make this Central Division match more competitive. Both teams are battered and bruised, too, so at least that makes it reasonably fair.

9:00 pm

Nashville @ Colorado

The Predators and Avs are both currently in the top eight in the West (Nashville at 56 points and Colorado at 54), but every game counts right now.

Dallas @ Edmonton

Remember when these two teams used to battle it out in the playoffs during the mid to late ’90s? If the Oilers trajectory continues upward and the Stars hold onto Brad Richards, they might be back there again soon.

10:00 pm

San Jose @ Vancouver

It’s a game between arguably the best team in the NHL (the Canucks) versus one of its most disappointing teams (the Sharks). Chances are solid that it could still be a solid game considering all the talent that will be on the ice.

10:30 pm

Phoenix @ Los Angeles

The Coyotes are slipping a bit, but the Kings are free-falling. Perhaps Los Angeles can get things back together by beating their division rivals at home?

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