Last night was a big one for the Montreal Canadiens, who defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, and for the Calgary Flames ,who defeated the Colorado Avalanche. Today, there are eleven games with four of the five teams fighting for a playoff spot in the East in action.
Atlanta Thrashers vs Pittsburgh Penguins
This is a huge game for both teams as the Penguins are trying to move into the second spot in the East while the Thrashers are trying to tie the Bruins and the Flyers with 82 points. It's a must win for the Thrashers who cannot afford to lose this game and remain two points back with only three games left. Unfortunately for the Thrashers, Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar are expected to play today and should help the Penguins come away with the win.
Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Believe it or not, the Leafs are 9-3-1 in their last 13 games (although 6 of those wins came in overtime or shootout). It won't be an easy game for the Bruins but it's an important one. A win would solidify their 7th place while a loss combined with a Rangers win would move them down to 9th. The Leafs are a pretty tough team to beat at home this season and I expect them to come away with another win but it'll be a close one.
Buffalo Sabres vs Montreal Canadiens
The Canadiens looked awful in the third period against the Hurricanes and looked even worst in the third period last night against the Flyers but still managed to come away with the win, thanks to Jaroslav Halak. 12 goals in their last 7 games isn't nearly enough and they'll need to be better if they want to score even one goal against Ryan Miller. The Sabres looked like the easier match-up amongst the top four teams in the East but after winning seven of their last nine, they could hold on to the number two seed and be a very dangerous team in the playoffs.
New York Rangers vs Florida Panthers
The Rangers have crawled back into the playoff race with nine points out of ten in their last five games (including the last four on the road) and there's no reason why they can't come away with two more tonight. This is a must win for the Rangers but wouldn't be out of it even with a loss as they have back to back games against the Flyers to end the season.
Nashville Predators vs Detroit Red Wings
Although this game is for the fifth spot in the Western Conference, it's not such an important one because the Coyotes and Canucks are both very tough opponents. It will be a very exciting game however between the two hottest teams in the NHL. The Wings will look to extend their winning streak to eight games but the Predators have a chance to gain some respect with a win.