Mar 3, 2011, 1:06 PM EDT
There are 11 games on today’s Thursday schedule, so let’s get to it. All start times are Eastern Standard Time (ET).
Buffalo @ Carolina
There’s no reason to try to mask it; this is a huge contest for both teams. The Sabres trail the Hurricanes by only two points and hold two games in hand, but this match could swing the momentum for one of these teams. Each franchise has some positivity going lately, with Cory Stillman reigniting his old success with the Canes and Buffalo on a 3-0-1 run with new owner Terry Pegula.
Ottawa @ Atlanta
The Thrashers haven’t been winning much lately, but they don’t really have an excuse if they drop this one against the lowly Senators. Their chances seem to keep dwindling every week, so the pressure’s on Atlanta.
Tampa Bay @ Boston
The Lightning finished an epic homestand last week while the Bruins just finished up their best road trip since the 70s this week. They’re both division leaders who are facing some tough competition from their second place opponents. With the Lightning known for their explosive offense and aversion to fighting and the Bruins for their smothering defense and physicality, this should be an interesting contrast.
Toronto @ Philadelphia
Sometimes, it doesn’t matter which team has more on the line. At least when it comes to the dominant Flyers. Meanwhile, the Leafs play against Kris Versteeg, who didn’t even make it a full season as a member of Toronto before being traded.
St. Louis @ Washington
In an ideal world, this would be the Capitals’ re-match against Jaroslav Halak. Instead, Halak is injured and St. Louis is in shambles, so instead it’s a game Washington has little excuse to lose.
Minnesota @ NY Rangers
It’s unclear if Marian Gaborik will be fit to play against the team he once was rarely fit to play for tonight, but it’s a big game either way, with both clubs on two-game losing streaks.
Montreal @ Florida
With a strange March schedule coming up, the Panthers need to win these types of games if they hope to make the playoffs. Conversely, the Habs need to win these types of games to win the Northeast Division.
Columbus @ Edmonton
It might look like the Blue Jackets are in bad shape, but with a couple games in hand over the bubble teams, they might be closer than it seems. If they win, that is.
Nashville @ Vancouver
Much like the Maple Leafs visiting Philadelphia, the Predators go into Vancouver with desperation on their side against the best team in their conference. Will that make enough of a difference?
Detroit @ San Jose
The Sharks have won seven games in a row and 12 of their last 14 games. The Red Wings defeated San Jose at the Shark Tank three times in a row, so it won’t come easily.
Phoenix @ Los Angeles
The Coyotes have lost four games in a row while Los Angeles will welcome Dustin Penner to the fold for his first contest as a member of the Kings. Anze Kopitar won two of their first three games during a six-game homestand, but matches like these will determine if it was really a success.
- How bad are things for the Kings after Monday? 0
- A taste of revenge? Blackhawks deal blow to Kings’ playoff hopes 7
- Lightning clinch playoff berth, but did they lose Hedman? 6
- Blackhawks tease good injury news for Kane 7
- Tough times in Tampa: Garrison out 3-4 weeks after ‘pretty dirty’ Abdelkader hit 22
- Playoff watch — what the bubble teams need to do 29
- NHL on NBCSN: Stakes high for Kings, ‘Hawks tonight 21
- Blackhawks’ Sharp: ‘We knew we had to get two points’ 12
- Video: Brian Engblom takes a puck to the head 13
- Flames jump back into third in Pacific, beat Preds 6