Tampa Bay Lightning(50-19-4) vs New York Islanders(31-32-10)
The Islanders come in this game actually coming off a win and a win vs one of their rival teams the Penguins. It seems as if when the Islanders play good teams and or rival teams a little better. But tonight will be a tough matchup for the Islanders as they welcome the league leaders to Brooklyn. The Lightning come into this game on a two-game win streak off a huge win vs Toronto as well. The Lightning are 7-2-1 in their last ten and have been playing pretty consistent hockey as of late, nothing dominant but hockey that will be bearable come playoff time. They will more than likely be going with Andrei Vasilevskiy in net, although after picking up his 41st win the other night and plus Tampa being locked in a playoff spot, I would not be surprised to see one of their backups go. The Islanders are now 10 points out of a wild-card spot with just 9 games to be played, I am going to have to say they are out. They are 2-5-3 in their last ten and have been playing some really bad hockey. The bright spot per say is that their young goaltender Chris Gibson has been seeing regular time, and despite allowing a handful of goals on most nights, he is 2-1-2, 2.57 goals against and .936 SV %. The future of the Islanders crease perhaps looks a little better. Anyways, even with the Islanders at home and Lightning on the road, both are coming off a day of rest and ready to go here. I’m going Lightning.
Florida Panthers(37-27-7) vs Columbus Blue Jackets(41-28-5)
Wow, the game of the night for sure. The Blue Jackets welcome the red-hot, contending Panthers to Nation Wide arena as they themselves are sporting a 9-game win streak and looking to take over third place in the Metro. The Panthers desperately need any point(s) they can get, as they sit now one point behind New Jersey with two games in hand. The Panthers come into this game 7-2-1 on a two-game win streak ready to face one of the hottest teams in the league. The Panthers will more than likely be going with Roberto Luongo tonight as James Reimer played Tuesday night vs Ottawa. Luongo is 15-9-2, 2.53 GAA and .928 SV % on the year, he has missed some time but since coming back has been a great supplement to the Panthers success. The Blue Jackets will also go with their starter Sergei Bobrovsky, although he did play last game vs the Rangers, the Blue Jackets are rolling and there is no time to lose here. This is going to be a nail-biter, I don’t see either team really blowing the other one out, but it will be a back and forth game. Maybe a little slow to start and then as the game gets going it will get interesting. I hate to say it and hate to do it to the Panthers but I got Columbus tonight. Possibly in overtime but still.
Toronto Maple Leafs(43-23-7) vs Nashville Predators(48-14-10)
This is going to be another great game. I think we see Auston Matthews back in the line up as well, depending on what Mike Babcock wants to do. There is no real rush because the Leafs are staying in that three spot until the playoffs they trail the Bruins by 7 points and the Bruins have a game in hand. Babcock either waits for Matthews to be 1000 percent ready or go for it now and let him get some time in before the playoffs come. Anyways even without Matthews the Leafs have been playing some decent hockey posting a 5-3-2 record in their last ten coming off a tough loss to Atlantic rival Tampa Bay. The Leafs face off against two of the best teams in the league just days apart, something that is not too easy. If Frederick Anderson is not back tonight that means Curtis McElhinney is going again tonight. The Predators are clinched for a playoff spot and probably the President’s trophy, in the last month of play they have looked like the cup favorites, going on a ten game win streak as well picking up a point in 14 of their last 15 games. They post a 9-0-1 record in their last ten and are starting a new win-streak as they have won four straight now. As much as I think this will be a great game, I tried to go Toronto in Tampa Bay last time but going with the best team in the league at home, Nashville tonight.
Los Angeles Kings(40-27-7) vs Colorado Avalanche(40-25-8)
This game has playoff atmosphere written all over it. The Kings vs Wild game was a playoff type game and with the Avalanche just one point ahead of the Kings this is going to be one hell of a game. These two teams are in the wild card spots right now with two other teams on their tail. Every point matters folks. The Avalanche also trail Minnesota for the three spot in the Central by two points, the Av’s are 6-1-3 in their last ten picking up a point in 9 of their last 10 games. The Kings on the other hand, since dropping out and then coming back in the playoff race, I believe have realized how crucial every game is from here on out. This is also going to be the first of two meetings between these two in the next week and a half. The Kings come into this game off an overtime loss to Winnipeg posting a 5-3-2 record in their last ten. I would have to assume with the playoffs on the line and this being a huge game at this point in the season, both these teams are going with their starters here. Jonathan Quick(29-25-2, 2.43 GAA, .921 SV%) and Semyon Varlamov(22-14-6, 2.69 GAA, .919 SV %). This is probably one of the harder choices of the night and I am honestly going to go with the Kings here tonight, feel a big road win out of this club.
Vegas Golden Knights(47-21-5) vs San Jose Sharks(41-23-9)
At one point I could have sworn the Sharks were trailing the Golden Knights by like four points but now, I pick my head up and the Sharks are behind Vegas by 8 points. The Sharks have played some pretty consistent and solid hockey as of late and have secured their ticket to the playoffs for sure. They are 8-2-0 in their last ten, on a 5-game win streak coming off a two days rest. The Sharks have certainly enjoyed the play of Evander Kane and how well he has balanced out these lines, when they get Joe Thornton back, this team can be a contender come April. Anyways, the Golden Knights have tailed off a little bit in the last month or so but are on a two-game winning streak winning their last game against Vancouver. The Golden Knights I believe have beat every inaugural team record and with a win tonight will secure themselves a sure spot in the playoffs making them the third team to do so this season so far. They really only need one point but a win or overtime/shootout loss confirms a playoff spot. The starters for tonight, obviously I think with a playoff berth on the line and against a divisional opponent the Golden Knights go with Marc Andre Fleury(27-11-3, 2.18 GAA, .930 SV%) and the Sharks to continue this win streak and take a huge game from the Golden Knights will willingly and by default go with starter Martin Jones(26-18-5, 2.50 GAA, .916 SV%). This is another tough choice, Sharks are hot, Vegas wants a playoff spot, going to be a playoff-like game for sure and a great one as well. But tonight I am going to go with the hot hand at home, Sharks tonight.
Other games on tonight…
Oilers vs Senators: Oilers
Canucks vs Blackhawks: Blackhawks
Capitals vs Red Wings: Capitals
Coyotes vs Hurricanes: Hurricanes