While the Maple Leafs - Penguins game and the irrelevant Oilers - Blues contest are already in progress, the remaining three games are fairly big. Some factor into playoff positioning, while one can either stop the bleeding of a now-playoff-threatened team or continue a troubling drop from contention. New Jersey Devils (44-25-5, 93 pts) at Philadelphia Flyers (37-32-6, 80 pts) 7:00 PM ET
Could the Philadelphia Flyers actually miss the playoffs? It’s starting to look like that is a legitimate possibility now that the goalie-challenged club is on a 5 game losing streak and only has a two point edge on the Atlanta Thrashers. Simply put, a playoff miss would be a disaster considering all of that talent in cream cheese land. A Devils win would widen their small lead over the Penguins.
Columbus Blue Jackets (30-32-13, 73 pts) at Chicago Blackhawks (46-20-7, 99 pts) 7:00 PM ET
I hate to condone losing, but I can’t see why the rudderless Blue Jackets wouldn’t benefit from tanking for the rest of the season. They’re just slightly ahead of the Islanders, Lightning, Panthers and Hurricanes. If they could drop behind those four, they’d have the third best chance to land the top pick. For Chicago, the Sharks’ lead on the #1 spot isn’t that huge when you consider the fact that the Blackhawks have two games in hand.
Colorado Avalanche (41-26-7, 89 pts) at San Jose Sharks (46-19-10, 102 pts) 8:00 PM ET
The Avs’ lead on the eighth seed is reasonably safe; they have four more points, three more wins and two games in hand on the Flames. Still, they are suddenly staring at a possible problem here (especially if the Sharks keep them away from even a charity point). The Sharks need to build a cushion against Chicago and Phoenix.
Games already in progress:
Maple Leafs at Pittsburgh Penguins
Edmonton Oilers at St. Louis Blues