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Around the Rink – Wednesday, February 23rd

Feb 23, 2011, 3:30 PM EST

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Jonathan Bernier, Bobby Ryan AP

There are six games tonight, most of which have interesting playoff implications. As always, the start times are according to Eastern Standard Time (ET).

7:00 pm

Atlanta @ Buffalo

The Hurricanes, Devils, Maple Leafs and other bubble teams are rooting for only one thing: no overtime. It’s a game between two teams who are tied for ninth place in the East with 60 points (five behind eighth place Carolina), although the Sabres are in better shape with two games in hand.

Both teams are on three-game losing streaks right now, so perhaps the winner will use this contest to turn things around.

Florida @ Ottawa

Before he carried the Avalanche to the playoffs in 2009-10 and then fell out of favor this season, Craig Anderson was quietly one of the league’s most efficient backups as a member of the Panthers. This could be Anderson’s first home game as the Senators’ (interim?) starter, so he wants to make an impression by hurting Florida’s flimsy playoff hopes.

7:30 pm

Phoenix @ Tampa Bay

Some might really swing for the fences and say that this is a contest between “two non-traditional franchises who are proven successes.” That might be going a little far considering both teams’ slim divisional leads, but both the Coyotes and Lightning are doing an admirable job so far this season. Tampa Bay probably needs this one more as they’ve lost three in a row as their 12-game homestand is beginning to go a bit sour.

San Jose @ Pittsburgh

It appears that the Sharks might have the upper hand in this game between the two fourth-place teams in each respective conferences. San Jose comes in having won 13 out of 16 games while the Penguins offense is stalling without their big stars. One thing’s for sure: the Sharks are probably glad that they’ll see former Dallas Stars forward James Neal less often after tonight.

9:30 pm

Edmonton @ Colorado

Despite what Peter Stastny thinks about his son’s team, Erik Johnson provided early results with a game winning goal against his former club on Tuesday. It might be too late for the Avs to get back into a crowded Western Conference playoff bubble, but tonight could at least give them a chance to restore some confidence. Or damage it pretty badly.

10:00 pm

Los Angeles @ Anaheim

Much like Atlanta-Buffalo, this is one of those games that other teams hope against hope will end in regulation. The Kings technically hold a tie breaker lead over the Ducks, but they’re basically locked in at eighth with 68 points each. California games have gotten bigger each year as the three teams are becoming consistent contenders, but the context of this one could make it especially intriguing.

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