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Today’s afternoon games

Much like last week, I like to give sleepy eyed (possibly hungover even?) hockey fans fair warning that the league often sneaks in a few early games. Hate to admit it, but there was a point in my college days when I might have gotten out of bed in the middle of the Panthers-Sharks game. Don’t judge me, Internet. Chicago Blackhawks (44-17-5, 93 pts) at Philadelphia Flyers (35-27-4, 74 pts) 1:00 PM ET

The margin of error between San Jose and Chicago for the West’s top spot is amazingly thin. All I know is that I’d rather play Calgary or Nashville instead of the Detroit Red Wings, so who knows which spot will “really” be the best one in the West. The Flyers seem stuck in sixth place at the moment. There’s a nice amount of room in front of Montreal despite the teams being tied because Philly has played three less games while Ottawa is five points ahead of the Flyers.

Florida Panthers (27-29-10, 64 pts) at San Jose Sharks (43-14-9, 95 pts) 4:00 PM ET

It’s surprising to see such disparity between two teams in a time when the salary cap narrows the gap more often than not. You have to wonder if the (no doubt great) Washington Capitals’ dominance is inflated a bit considering the fact that their divisional neighbors occupy the Eastern Conference’s 10-13 spots.