The Night Ahead 3.13.18

As the regular season comes closer and closer to a conclusion, every night becomes more crucial and every point more coveted.  This Tuesday is no different as there are some heavyweight match-ups on the schedule as well as some possible trap games for some teams.  Let’s dive in and take a look at tonight’s games:

Boston Bruins at Carolina Hurricanes – The first game of the night gets underway…right now (6:04 as of this word).  Carolina will look to rebound after they looked porous against a beatable Rangers team last night, losing 6-3.  The loss last night could be the dagger in their playoff push, and if it wasn’t, a loss tonight definitely would be.  The Bruins, playing their first game since a 3-1 loss on Sunday to the out-of-the-playoffs Blackhawks will also look to rebound and keep pace in the Atlantic with the Lightning.

Ottawa Senators at Tampa Bay Lighting – Speaking of the Lightning, they square off against a Senators team that defeated the Panthers 5-3 last night in Florida.  While it’s a back to back for Ottawa, they didn’t have to go far to face a Lightning team that hasn’t played since Saturday morning, when they defeated the Canadiens and became the first team in the league to reach the 100 point mark in the NHL.  The Lightning are going to the playoffs, the Senators aren’t, but look for Ottawa to try and complete the two day sweep of the hot Florida teams.

Dallas Stars at Montreal Canadiens – The second game of a back to back for the Canadiens (lost 5-2 to the Blue Jackets on Monday) and the first game of a back to back for the Stars (they play in Toronto Wednesday) is full of intriguing story lines.  Brothers Jordie Benn (defenseman for the Canadiens) and Jamie Benn (Captain left winger for the Stars) face off against each other, as do both of the Stars goalies from last year (Antti Niemi now with Montreal, and Kari Lehtonen with Dallas).  If that wasn’t enough, right winger Alex Radulov makes his return to Montreal after playing there last season before the Stars signed him as a free agent in the off season.  Oh, and Dallas desperately needs the points as the Wild Card race in the West heats up.

Winnipeg Jets at Nashville Predators – The game of the night.  These two teams played 2 weeks ago and it was an instant classic.  Tonight’s match up may not be able to live up to that game (a wild 6-5 win for Nashville) but that’s only because that game was THAT good.  A possible second round match up in the playoffs looms between these two, but for the time being the Predators will try to all but lock up the Central Division with a win, and could do so with the Jets playing a day after an emotional loss to the Capitals.

Colorado Avalanche at Minnesota Wild – The (second) game of the night goes to these two Central foes.  These two don’t like each other, and Minnesota looks to get revenge on the Avalanche after they delivered a 7-1 beat down on the Wild on March 2nd.  They just may get that revenge as the Wild have been hot at home, but Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon will have a say in that.  Both teams need points, but Colorado needs them more as they flip flop between in the playoffs, and out of the playoffs virtually every night.  The game will be nationally televised on NBCSN…do yourself a favor and watch it.

Edmonton Oilers at Calgary Flames – If not for the Oilers struggles this year, this game could be massive.  But, for one team, this game still is.  The Calgary Flames find themselves in hot water and if they don’t win this game, it will turn scalding hot and they may not survive.  No team would like to turn up the temperature on the Flames season than their providence rivals, Edmonton Oilers.  The Battle for Alberta has it’s share of story lines as well, but put simply, the Flames desperately need the two points to keep pace in the Wild West Wildcard race.  They currently are 2 points back of a playoff spot, but have played equal or more games than the 3 teams ahead of them.  Their season is on the burner.  The Oilers on the other hand have been toast for a little while now, but super star Conner McDavid is still racking up the points and looks to close the gap on the NHL scoring lead tonight (trails Lightning’s Kucherov by 4 points and Penguins’ Malkin by 3).

Los Angeles Kings at Arizona Coyotes – Last but not least, the LA Kings look to avoid the classic trap game as they travel to Arizona and face the recently hot Coyotes.  Their second game of a back to back (defeated the Canucks 3-0 last night), the Kings look to keep on their winning ways and continue to climb the standings.  After finding themselves out of the playoff picture at the start of last nights games, their victory paired with a Ducks loss to the Blues helped propel them into the top 3 in the Pacific Division.  But look for their recent trade partners, the Arizona Coyotes, and former netminder, Darcy Kuemper, to play spoilers and build on their current hot streak (6-3-1 in their last 10).

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