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TGIF: Five NHL games to watch this weekend

Jan 24, 2014, 4:12 PM EDT

Steve Mason #35 of the Philadelphia Flyers take a break during the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Wells Fargo Center on October 2, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(October 1, 2013 - Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

Saturday: Boston at Philadelphia (1 p.m. ET)

A few Flyers fans disagreed when I brought this up on Twitter, but I still feel like Paul Holmgren could’ve driven a harder bargain with Steve Mason. Really, what leverage did Mason have in his situation? Before signing that three-year, $12.3 million extension, he was a 25-year-old pending restricted free agent with a career .906 save percentage. Yeah, he played great earlier this season. He may have been the Flyers’ MVP actually. But you’ll remember he also played pretty well in his rookie season with Columbus. Goalies get hot sometimes. They also get cold. In eight January games, Mason’s save percentage is a troublesome .885. And that was after 11 December appearances when it was .899.

Saturday: Pittsburgh at Dallas (8 p.m. ET)

When Kris Letang fired home Sidney Crosby‘s pass Thursday against the beleaguered Islanders, all I could think was, how in the world did Boston hold these guys to two goals in four games?

(The answer, of course, is “layers.”)

Saturday: Anaheim at Los Angeles (9:30 p.m. ET)

Outdoors at Dodger Stadium, where the temperature at puck drop should be in the mid-60s. So no, for God’s sake, the ice isn’t going to be melting under the players’ skates. “It’s not that big a deal,” said Kings coach Darryl Sutter. “The temperature is the very same as the building temperature. When you come in the building, it’s 65 and above. It actually might be cooler.” That said, it’s been hotter in L.A. than the NHL expected, so the ice surface may not be perfect, even after the sun goes down and the temperature begins to fall.

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

I don’t think anyone was shocked that Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau signed contract extensions with the Sharks, but it sure did shed some light on the lack of quality pending unrestricted free agents. Which is to say, Paul Stastny is in a pretty good bargaining position with the Avs, who I figure may have to choose between him and Ryan O’Reilly. Other than Stastny, it’s slim pickings for pending UFA centers. Mikhail Grabovski, Dave Bolland, and David Legwand aren’t bad players, but they’re more in the complementary department. (If they even reach free agency.)

Sunday: NY Rangers at New Jersey (12:30 p.m. ET)

Outdoors at Yankee Stadium, where melting ice probably won’t be a problem. Another thing that hasn’t been a problem lately is Henrik Lundqvist, who boasts a .936 save percentage in January. In December, that number was .888, which caused great concern considering the big extension he’d just signed. King Henrik’s improved play is also good news for Sweden heading into the Olympics, where it could be argued they’ll be the second-deepest team after Canada.

  1. ibieiniid - Jan 24, 2014 at 5:24 PM

    Brough, this flyers fan thinks you make a good case. I’ve learned to never – EVER – count your goalies before they hatch… or something to that effect. its hard for names like Esche, Cecmanek (sp), Boucher, Biron, etc to not pop up in my mind whenever I open my mouth about a Flyers goalie playing well.

    at least its not as bad as bryz’s contract though…

    • jbink2585 - Jan 24, 2014 at 6:35 PM

      Mason deal is fine by me, Im not sure Patrick Roy or even the greatest of Goalies can do much with the assembled D core. Its happening way to often that when buzzer sound and you look up and the Flyers opponent has 35 + shots. This is a aging D core and the only serviceable D men we have are Streit Grossman and Coby(and even these guys are prb 3s and 4s.)the rest are trash. Needless to say this Blueline needs an OVERHAUL MASON WILL BE FINE.
      Its funny but if you look at Cecmanek #s he was good, Esche was solid also, we def had some dud Goalies, but Id venture to say majority of the goalie issues we had our dman were trash

  2. jernster21 - Jan 24, 2014 at 5:47 PM

    I don’t know how Minnesota vs San Jose is worth watching over the Tampa Bay vs. Avalanche game, two teams that have undeniably been two of the biggest surprises of the season. Are you expecting to see Marleau and Thornton’s hands cramp up after signing those 3 year deals? TUNE IN.

  3. jrs45 - Jan 24, 2014 at 6:51 PM

    Cbus winning 9 in a row is worth watching.

    • jbink2585 - Jan 24, 2014 at 6:58 PM

      Not really Sabres aren’t exactly must see TV

  4. blomfeld - Jan 24, 2014 at 11:55 PM

    Saturday: Anaheim at Los Angeles (9:30 p.m. ET)

    GO KINGS GO !!! … TODAY, TOMORROW AND FOREVER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

    ps: don’t worry friends … at this point of the season, we’re ‘exactly’ where we want to be ! :)

  5. patshal - Jan 25, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    Go Bruins!!

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