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Around the Rink – Friday, February 4th

Feb 4, 2011, 5:10 PM EDT

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NHL Fight

Here are previews for tonight’s six games. As always, all start times according to Eastern Standard Time (ET).

7:00 pm

Florida @ New Jersey

It seems like the Devils just won’t lay down and take their first high draft pick since the days when HBO aired new episodes of “The Larry Sanders Show,” will they? Talk about late to the party. They shouldn’t consult the Panthers for tanking advice, though; Florida specializes in landing in playoff/draft pick purgatory, after all.

Buffalo @ Pittsburgh

Two teams trending up despite missing important centers (Derek Roy for the Sabres, Sidney Crosby for the Penguins) face off in this one. Evgeni Malkin is expected to make his comeback tonight, so it’ll be interesting to see how the talented but struggling pivot fares.

7:30 pm

Columbus @ Detroit

Interesting stat: the West’s second ranked Red Wings have a +25 goal differential while the West’s second-to-last team the Blue Jackets have a -25 goal differential. Take a wild guess which team is most likely to win.

Washington @ Tampa Bay

In case you haven’t heard this numerous times already: the Lightning have shut out the Capitals twice in a row right now. Dwayne Roloson hasn’t allowed a goal in nearly 129 minutes against Alex Ovechkin & Co. Tampa Bay owns a five point (and three win) lead over Washington for the Southeast Division lead, as Guy Boucher’s bunch are on a six game winning streak while Bruce Boudreau’s Capitals have lost three in a row.

I agree with Japer’s Rink that it isn’t a must-win game, but considering the cushion the Lightning can build on their epic homestand, it certainly falls in the “would-surely-be-very-nice-to-win” category.

8:00 pm

Edmonton @ St. Louis

The good news for the Blues: Andy McDonald is back. The other good news: they’re at home. The bad news: Jaroslav Halak won’t play. The team is called the Blues, though, right? I guess this is to be expected.

10:00 pm

Chicago @ Vancouver

Something tells me the Canucks would love nothing less than to make it that much more difficult for their hated rivals to make the playoffs. Something tells me that more than a few stomachs would turn in Vancouver if they drew the Blackhawks in the first round, after all.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. R. Johansen (1163)
  2. R. Malone (1149)
  3. S. Bennett (1147)
  4. J. Drouin (1129)
  5. K. Timonen (1125)