As the Red Wings have returned, so has my desire to watch hockey that wasn't just the Red Wings. Some good stuff on the docket tonight for us. Let's go with the important stuff first.
at St. Louis Blues - 8:00 (FS-TN, FS-MW)
My Preview: The Blues could lower their Division-Clinching magic number to 5 with a win tonight. Right now, they're 7 points shy (either earned by St. Louis or squandered by Detroit) of taking the Central Division crown. Meanwhile, Nashville could jump over the Wings in the division standings with a victory over the Blues, a feat which would also officially clinch their playoff berth. The Preds own the Blues so far this year.
So... Go Meteor?
Obviously, the worst thing is an overtime game which ends before the shootout. Points for everybody and another notch in the tiebreaker column for whichever team comes out of this one. I'm pulling for the Preds. Detroit will still have a game in hand to make up the one-point difference and I'm a firm believer that you root against the assholes you're trying to catch, not the ones you're trying to stay ahead of. As I said on WIIM Radio, Detroit holds their own 4th-seed destiny in their hands.
Chicago Blackhawks at- 7:00 (CSN-CHI, MSG+)
My Preview: The year of being able to empathize with the Blackhawks continues, as they struggle to pay without their best forward, and best defenseman (one of whom happens to be the team captain). Frankly, it makes me sick. Of course, Detroit didn't have to miss one of their most important players because that guy went nuts and elbowed somebody in the head. Detroit is five points up on Chicago with six to play. They're in the same boat for catching us as we are for catching St. Louis. Meanwhile the Devils have been struggling lately and could fall out of the 6th seed in the East if they don't right the ship.
J.J. COMMANDS YOU TO ROOT FOR: The Devils. Look, I like how SCH uses a Futurama reference in their preview and I've had fun collectively hating on Blues and Predators fans with them, but when it comes down to it, I hope future Red Wing Zach Parise embarrasses the Hawks.
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The Rest of the Schedule
Buffalo Sabres at Washington Capitals (7:00) -If you're at all interested in the playoff race out East, this is the game you want to watch. These two underachievers are tied with 84 points apiece, with Washington holding the ROW tiebreaker that puts them in 8th place. Goofy things could happen to change standings, but it looks like it's going to come down to one of these two teams missing the playoffs this season.
Carolina Hurricanes at Toronto Maple Leafs (7:00) -Speaking of tied in points, these two bottom-dwellers have 75 each. If you're looking for schadenfreude, this is your matchup.
New York Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins (7:00) -Pittsburgh will probably take over the league lead in goal differential tonight. The Penguins shouldn't need Kris Letang in the lineup to win this game.
Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins (7:30) -I like the 7:30 games because it always gives me something to watch during the intermissions of the games which start at the top of the hour. I plan on switching over to this on NBCSN and weeping silently about the 7th-round pick that got away.
Florida Panthers at Montreal Canadiens (7:30) -Go Mikael Samuelsson!
New York Rangers at Minnesota Wild (8:00) - People in Minnesota are finally looking forward to the end of the three-and-a-half-month whistling sound coming from the Xcel Energy center, now taking bets on whether the end result will sound more like a 'SPLAT!' or a 'THUD'.
So what are you looking for tonight?