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TGIF: In which we salivate over potential playoff matchups

Mar 14, 2014, 3:39 PM EDT

Claude Giroux, Sidney Crosby Getty Images

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

These two fierce in-state rivals also meet Sunday on NBC, and could very well meet in the first round of the playoffs. For that to happen, the Flyers would need to finish in a wild-card spot, just not the one that matches up with Boston. Other potential first-round matchups we wouldn’t mind seeing? How ’bout Leafs-Habs. Or Bruins-Habs. Or Bruins-Leafs. Or Bruins-Flyers. Or Pens-Wings. Or Jackets-Rangers. And that’s just in the East. In the West, we could see Kings-Ducks in the battle of Los Angeles. And it seems all but certain we’ll see Avs-Hawks. After Colorado took four of five from the defending champs in the regular season? Yeah, I’d probably watch that.

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

Big game for both teams. If I’m the Wild, I want to win this one badly, because I know what’s ahead. Consider: after Saturday, Minnesota will have 15 games left, including two versus Boston, two against St. Louis, one against Pittsburgh, one against Los Angeles, and one against Chicago. On top of that, most of the rest are against desperate teams like Detroit (twice), New Jersey, Vancouver, Phoenix, and Winnipeg. The Jackets, meanwhile, have a relatively easier schedule, but they don’t have a six-point cushion like the Wild. Theirs is only three, and could easily be just one by Saturday.

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

I mentioned this yesterday in PHT Extra, but I’ll say it again here. If I’m a potential wild-card team in the West, I’m hoping Anaheim holds on to first in the Pacific, and then I hope I match up with the Ducks in the first round. No disrespect to Anaheim, though I guess it’s hard to take it any other way.  Yes, I think the Ducks are a good team; I just don’t think they’re in the same class as St. Louis. Or, for that matter, Chicago, Los Angeles, or San Jose. In fact, if Anaheim draws Dallas in the first round, I’d probably pick the Stars to win. (Note: I reserve the right to change/chicken out of this pick.)

Sunday: Vancouver at Florida (3 p.m. ET)

Roberto Luongo versus his old Canucks. I have to say, I kind of agreed with Don Cherry’s take on Luongo’s tweeting during Vancouver’s 6-1 drubbing in Dallas. Maybe it would’ve been best if old @strombone1 sat that one out. Not that the tweets weren’t funny, because they were definitely funny. And I don’t think he meant any malice whatsoever with them; most of his tweets are of the self-deprecating kind, and that’s a big reason why Vancouver fans fell back in love with him before he was traded away. But if there’s one guy — I mean, ONE GUY — who should know that words can come back to bite, isn’t it Roberto “Easy Save For Me” Luongo?

Sunday: Detroit at Chicago (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

If the Red Wings end up making the playoffs, Mike Babcock deserves serious consideration for coach of the year. Frankly, I thought he deserved a lot more consideration last year, when he only finished 10th in the voting, but there’s no sense complaining about that now. It just can’t be understated how badly the Wings have been banged up this year. Only two players — Drew Miller and Kyle Quincey — have appeared in all 65 Detroit games. Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen — all three stars have missed big chunks of the season. According to Sports Club Stats, the Wings have a 39.6 percent chance of making the playoffs for a 23rd straight time. “We talked about it after the Olympic break that we have to win two of every three,” said Babcock after Tuesday’s costly loss in Columbus. “We got off to a good start with that and then we’ve lost two in a row. We have to bounce back.”

  1. flyerspsu - Mar 14, 2014 at 4:02 PM

    honestly as a Flyers fan I just want them to make the playoffs and have an exciting series and if they win the series thats great but wont expect much after that

  2. luvmnsports2012 - Mar 14, 2014 at 4:16 PM

    Gotta pick up the pace WILD!!

  3. pitpenguinsrulez - Mar 14, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    I hate Philly with a burning passion.

    • flyerspsu - Mar 14, 2014 at 4:25 PM

      we love that you hate us, oh and we hate you too

  4. pxland - Mar 14, 2014 at 4:45 PM

    Maybe it doesn’t count because its on tonight, but Avs vs ducks has to be a fun one.

  5. penguins87and71 - Mar 14, 2014 at 4:59 PM

    Should be a great weekend for hockey in PA! Back to back games with our rivals from the Eastern part of the state, I can’t wait!

  6. wtfkwp - Mar 14, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    Don’t imagine Kings fans wanting anything other than to take a shot at Anaheim, in a freeway series that would amount to a home ice advantage for every game.

  7. ufostomper - Mar 14, 2014 at 5:07 PM

    I don’t like them, wah I don’t like them wah

  8. puckmepuckyou - Mar 14, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    I’m a long time Flyers fan but I can’t say I “hate” Pittsburgh. The rivalry brings out some great hockey. I love when they come to town because both teams play a little harder and meaner. How can any hockey fan hate that. Bring them on and watch the hits fly.

  9. penguins87and71 - Mar 14, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    This is why I love the Penguins/Flyers rivalry, it’s an old fashioned rivalry, most of the time it’s good clean hits, not cheap dirty hits.

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