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TGIF: Five NHL games to watch this weekend

Jan 10, 2014, 4:53 PM EDT

Claude Giroux, Michael Raffl AP

Saturday: Tampa Bay at Philadelphia (1 p.m. ET)

The resurgent Flyers have now won 10 straight at home, a streak that’s improved their record at Wells Fargo Center to 12-7-0. “I think they’re confident guys right now and they believe they can win,” head coach Craig Berube said after Philly’s latest conquest, 3-1 over the Habs on Wednesday. That being said, it’s still hard to feel 100-percent comfortable that the Flyers have finally figured it out. I’m not denying they’ve shown serious progress, but this team’s had a way of showing improvement, only to regress against better competition. Let’s see how they look later this month when they have to deal with this…

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Saturday: Colorado at Minnesota (8 p.m. ET)

If the only thing that matters is the final score, the Wild have been flawless in their last four games, all of them wins. But PHT readers are smart enough to know that’s a simple-minded way of looking at things. Given this is a team that lost six straight prior to its current streak, the fact Minnesota has been outshot 110-57 in its last three games combined suggests there’s still plenty of room for improvement. The biggest difference in the Wild’s last four games has been the play of Niklas Backstrom and, on Tuesday in Los Angeles, Darcy Kuemper. Great goaltending gives you a chance every night. Average goaltending is only good enough when you control the puck, and that’s something the Wild still aren’t doing enough.

Saturday: Detroit at Los Angeles (10:30 p.m. ET)

A Stanley Cup Final preview, according to my pre-season prediction. Yeah, I’m not feeling so good about that Red Wings pick right now. Though it should be noted that I included the caveat that “Stephen Weiss can’t be a free-agent bust.” Does that get me off the hook? Whatever, I’m standing by my pick. Detroit’s better than its record; a 1-7 mark in the “gimmick” is a big reason the Wings are barely hanging on to a wild-card spot. Besides, one team out of two wouldn’t be so bad, and the Kings are very much in the Cup conversation. “We’re playing good,” says coach Darryl Sutter, with no regard for the English language. “We’ve played good for six or seven games.”

Saturday: Boston at San Jose (10:30 p.m. ET)

Without getting too technical, the Sharks have been kinda meh the last month or so. After starting the season 19-3-5, San Jose is just 9-8-1 in its last 18 games, with only five of those wins coming in regulation. Yeah, there have been some injuries, like the one to Logan Couture’s hand, but the Sharks are far from the only team that’s dealing with key absences. Meanwhile, the Bruins should be motivated for this one after dropping the first two of their three-game California trip, drawing some stern words from their coach.

Sunday: Philadelphia at NY Rangers (7 p.m. ET)

On NBCSN. Streaming live, too. Some of you may disagree, but as I wrote here, I really like the way the Rangers are playing lately. They hammered the Leafs, 7-1, on Saturday. The first few minutes of the third period they had against Columbus on Monday at MSG were absolutely dominant. And, of course, they beat the Blackhawks in Chicago two days later. If Henrik Lundqvist can play like the guy who earned that massive contract extension, they could go on a serious run before the Olympic break, with 10 of their 14 games at MSG and two at Yankee Stadium.

  1. sjsharks66 - Jan 10, 2014 at 5:02 PM

    I agree with what you said about San Jose. Yes they are without Couture, Torres, Wingles ( at the time ) and Burish. That should not change much. The real problem is Niemi. He needs to step it up. Hoping he cant get in the right state of mind before the playoffs.

  2. joey4id - Jan 10, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    Another one to watch is TOR at WSH. Huge game for the Leafs after a bad loss against the Caines. They have dropped out of a playoff spot and can ill afford to slip anymore. They are 4-4-2 in the last 10. Ouch! And for WSH it’s an opportunity to put some space between them and the NYRs and Caines, and get close to Philly.

  3. claysbar - Jan 10, 2014 at 6:47 PM

    The resurgent Flyers have now won 10 straight at home, a streak that’s improved their record at Wells Fargo Center to 12-7-0. This has always been a team to worry about. Just enough of everything but lacking something…Mason????

    Signed,
    A Pens Fan

    • phillyphanatic77 - Jan 10, 2014 at 6:58 PM

      We in Philly are praying he’s the goalie to lead us in the playoffs. His play hasn’t dropped in almost a full year in Philly (despite a few iffy starts in December). He’s consistent, technically sound, and always seems to come up with the big save the way our past goalies never could. In Mason we trust.

      • joey4id - Jan 10, 2014 at 8:56 PM

        dude, I was one that gave the Flyers no to very little chances of bouncing back and making the playoffs when they were 1-7-0. Could they? Will they? I actually selected the Rangers to finish ahead of the Flyers in the top three of their div.

      • phillyphanatic77 - Jan 10, 2014 at 11:02 PM

        I don’t mean to toot my own horn but I never once gave up on this squad, not even last year (which shows it’s probably just blind optimism). There’s too much talent to not atleast be a playoff participant… I mean a top-9 of G, Voracek, (Raffl now), Hartnell (bounced back), Simmonds (on fire), Schenn, Lecavalier, Coots, Read, and Downie is very complete. The D is underrated as a whole (esp depth-wise) and we finally have a stellar netminder. 2nd in the Metro w no signs of slowing.

    • elmerbrownelmerbrown - Jan 10, 2014 at 10:19 PM

      If the Pens won ten straight at home PHT would have a clicker !

      Signed A FLYERS Fan

      • penguins87and71 - Jan 10, 2014 at 11:05 PM

        The Penguins I have actually won 12 straight games at home.

      • penguins87and71 - Jan 10, 2014 at 11:06 PM

        The Penguins have actually won 12 straight games at home.

    • penguins87and71 - Jan 10, 2014 at 11:12 PM

      I hear you. I’m praying that the Penguins can avoid the Flyers in the playoffs. They seem to get the Penguins off their game. I also don’t care much for playing rivals in the playoffs. Mason scares the crap out of me if we have to face him in the playoffs. I will admit it the Flyers did dominate the series against the Penguins with a terrible goalie in Bryzgalov can you imagine what they could do with a good goalie. Also the Flyers are the only team that dominate the Penguins at Consol Energy Center.

  4. penguins87and71 - Jan 10, 2014 at 11:06 PM

    Sorry for the double post there.

  5. bucfanforlife - Jan 10, 2014 at 11:26 PM

    hey 66 u forgot hertl that’s the main reason

    • sjsharks66 - Jan 11, 2014 at 12:32 AM

      I knew I was missing a name. I had a brain fart. As soon as I posted that I remember, “and Hertl!”. haha

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