Around the Rink - Saturday, January 1st
I imagine when the schedule makers constructed tonight’s slate of six non-Winter Classic games, they did so with the thought that perhaps they could satiate some new hockey fans after the afternoon WC. Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided this weekend would help hockey people relate with the rain delays that are a regular reality for baseball fans, so those games instead must take place in moderate obscurity.
That being said, there are six games played without fear of rain or unseasonably hot weather, so we thought it would be wise to discuss them too. As always, start times are according to Eastern Standard Time (ET).
Boston @ Buffalo
Both of these teams appeared in Winter Classic games themselves (Boston against Philadelphia in 2010, Buffalo in the first WC versus Pittsburgh in ’08), so they cannot pout too much about being upstaged tonight. Instead of going toe-to-toe for the Northeast this season, the Bruins hold the division lead while the Sabres find themselves in 12th place in the East. Woops.
New Jersey @ Carolina
The Devils are coming off a rare win against the Thrashers while the Hurricanes are gradually gaining on the eighth spot in the East. Hey, it’s a new year. They might as well be a little positive, right?
Toronto @ Ottawa
New Year’s resolution for these two teams: make like George Costanza and do everything the opposite way in 2011.
NY Rangers @ Tampa Bay
The Rangers finally seem like they have a clear vision thanks in large part to John Tortorella. Oddly enough, this metamorphosis is taking place in the same season that the Lightning finally found a good replacement for their former coach.
Washington @ Pittsburgh
Wait, the Capitals are playing the Penguins tonight? Really?
San Jose @ Los Angeles
These battles of California are always more fun when they mean something. Considering how jam-packed the Pacific Division is with competitive teams, it might be a while before these contests are irrelevant again.
Calgary @ Edmonton
Sadly, the Battle of Alberta is the new standard for irrelevant rivalries, unless you’re a hardcore Flames or Oilers fan. (Then it’s always relevant, I would guess.) On the bright side for Calgary, they’re starting to look relevant again with a three game winning streak and a relatively friendly schedule going forward.