Tonight, several Canadian teams will be playing and watching the scoreboard as Winnipeg, Calgary and Ottawa’s playoff chances are hanging in the balance. Fans wait all year for games like this. How the chips fall should be interesting to watch. Will the Canadian teams involved get to take their destiny into their own hands or will another game’s score decide their fates? It makes for a great end of the season run and should make for even greater betting.
OTTAWA @ NY RANGERS
The Ottawa Senators tonight will face off against the Presidents Trophy winning New York Rangers, and that’s the same team who handed them and their infamous goaltender, the Hamburglar, his first regulation-time loss. Andrew Hammond didnt make it through two periods against the Rangers and was pulled in for Chris Driedger, who made his NHL debut that night. He lost to the Rangers 5-1. In the only other meeting so far this season, New York won 3-2 at home in overtime on Jan. 20 when Carl Hagelin deflected a pass by the Sen’s Craig Anderson. Senator Kyle Turris will have to have another big game, he’s only 25 but in his sixth full NHL season, and has been an offensive catalyst for the Sens in the stretch. He has 14 points in his past 11 games, with six key goals including an OT winner during the Sens’ mind-boggling 19-3-3 run. Another game the Sens will watch will be Boston, who plays at Florida. The panthers are technically out and would love to crush the Buins post season hopes. If the Bruins lose and Ottawa gets a point they will steal the last wildcard spot away. But Thursday nights date at MSG is a tall test as the team of destiny fights to keep his dream alive. The only thing in their favour could be that the NY coaches might give their star players a rest tonight.
Our Pick: Senators over Rangers
DETROIT @ MONTRÉAL
If the Detroit Red Wings win in Montreal at the Bell Centre tonight, or if Ottawa loses, they could clinch a spot and be in the playoffs, they could even know their first-round opponent. But the Habs’ Carey Price will be shooting for a special record, the most single-season wins: 42 victories matching Montreal greats Jacque Plante and Ken Dryden in the franchise’s record book. And he won’t be under pressure as he suits up against Detroit, a team that still hasn’t nailed down a playoff spot yet. They have made a playoff appearence for the past 23 seasons, and now at 42-25-13, they only need to win one of their final two games to add to their franchise-record streak of because they have the tiebreaker over Ottawa. With their long record is on the line, all Montreal has to do is sit back and watch the Red Wings play desperate hockey and make the mistakes. Montreal who is 48-22-10 are relaxed. They got some beach time while other teams were playing some desperate hockey as they stayed a few days extra time in south Florida after their victory over the Panthers this past Sunday. The Red Wings were so close to wrapping up that spot on Tuesday after beating Carolina 3-2, but almost like magic, the Sens came from behind and erased a three-goal deficit to beat Pittsburgh 4-3 in overtime. So there will be some scoreboard watching tonight.
Our Pick: Habs over Wings
LOS ANGELES @ CALGARY
This is the biggest game of the season for the LA Kings. They have to win in regulation if they want to keep their chances alive to defend their Stanley Cup Championship. If Calgary wins they punch their ticket to the playoffs and Winnipeg’s. If LA loses, they would become the fifth defending Stanley Cup champion in the expansion era (post-1966) to miss the playoffs the following season. The Kings have trouble scoring against the Flames too, against whom they have a 1-1-2 record this season. The Kings sit two points behind Calgary for third place in the Pacific Division and three points behind Winnipeg for the second and final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Kings hold the tiebreaker over Winnipeg, but not over Calgary. This past Tuesday the Kings hurt their hopes for post season action with their loss to Edmonton. Its very shocking to find Los Angeles in this situation, but even though they won the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014, the Kings havent been immune to late-season drama. In 2014 when they last won, they got into the playoffs taking the last spot in the West as the 8th seed and fought their way to the cup. In 2012, they clinched a playoff spot with two games remaining in the regular season. In 2013, they clinched with four games left. Last season, they clinched with five games left. So you cannot count the Kings out until it’s really over. They have talent and speed and great coaching in Darryl Sutter. On the outside of the postseason, one loss away from elimination, this should be the most exciting game to end the season.
Our Pick: Kings over Flames