Around the Rink - New Year’s Eve edition
For some, seeing the year change from 2010 to 2011 will be a blessing that cannot come soon enough (and maybe not just because it means the Winter Classic will be here that much sooner). Yet for people like myself, there will be some mixed feelings, as 2010 brought along the introduction of Pro Hockey Talk and plenty of other exciting events.
Tonight’s slate of NHL action finishes the year off well, with nine games overall. Here are previews of those contests, with start times according to Eastern Standard Time (ET) as usual.
Atlanta @ New Jersey
What’s the best remedy for a team that’s on a losing streak, like Atlanta’s three-game skid? Playing against the Devils seems to be that elixir, as New Jersey is currently on a six game losing streak and sits firmly in last place in the NHL. Surely there’s a part of the Thrashers organization (maybe everyone left over from Don Waddell’s era as GM?) that relishes the fact that their team is prospering while Ilya Kovalchuk languishes in New Jersey.
Montreal @ Florida
While Kovalchuk seeing his old teammates might still be emotional, I imagine Jacques Martin’s return to Florida isn’t going to be very moving. The Canadiens are far ahead of the Panthers right now, but with Florida owning six more home games than road games for the rest of the season, perhaps the gap is smaller than it seems?
Nashville @ Minnesota
The Predators are on a five game winning streak while the Wild are up and down, yet the only thing that separates these two teams is that Nashville has one more charity point this season.
NY Islanders @ Detroit
The Isles just beat the Pittsburgh Penguins by ending Sidney Crosby’s point scoring streak at 25 games, so they must feel good about themselves. Cue the Red Wings’ music to make them feel sad again.
Ottawa @ Columbus
The Blue Jackets seem to be on an upward trend in the last few games, while it’s amazing the Senators are even somewhat close to a playoff spot in the East with a -26 goal differential.
Vancouver @ Dallas
The Stars just hosted the top team in the West and lost 7-3 and now they face the Canucks at home on NYE. Not exactly an easy stretch for the Pacific Division leaders, right?
Philadelphia @ Anaheim
The Flyers pounded the Ducks’ division and state rivals last night, so they might be a little bit weary of another California match. Hopefully they’ll be ready to scrap too, as this is a rare contest between the NHL’s most regularly penalized teams over the last few seasons.
Phoenix @ St. Louis
The Blues will try to win their fifth game in a row as part of a lengthy homestand, but they’ll need to beat the Coyotes, the team with the best road record of all non-playoff teams (10-7-3). One would expect this to be a tight checking, low scoring affair.
Colorado @ Calgary
The second best team in the Northwest (Colorado) visits the second worst team in the Western Conference (Calgary) in this game. The Avs are currently in the midst of a Northwest swing, as they just beat the Oilers in a shootout, will take on the Flames tonight and then will face the Canucks on Sunday.