Anywhere from 8 to 11 games remaining for every team around the league. Yes, yes folks, its time for the stretch run heat-up in the race to the postseason pole. These will be the games to watch for this week...
Monday, March 23rd
Carolina @ Florida - Who thought Southeast Division games could be interesting? Well it usually gets interesting at this time of year because two teams are battling for first of the worst for the guaranteed 3rd slot in the Conference. But this year the SE needed not this rule, as Washington kept their head well above water securing their spot with points above the four spot for the majority of the year. But back to the game at hand, Carolina has had a resurgence since BFF Erik Cole hooked back up with Eric Staal, and goaltending has been more consistent from Cam Ward. Florida is fighting for their playoff, (franchise?) lives and looked to have it well in hand a few weeks ago. Now they are one point out of eighth, hoping to capitalize on Montreal's Centennial collapse.
- Calgary will also be looking to test their mettle against the Wings, as will the Flyers against the Devils.
Tuesday, March 24th
Anaheim @ Nashville - Anaheim has somehow found a way to string three together, and now look to be challenging for a spot. A week ago, they looked as if they were doing the proverbial flop, and are now a point back from Nashville for the eighth and final spot. Nashville has been very strong since the break, and quietly crept into the playoff picture.
- Also to note, every game against Detroit seems important. Edmonton will face them at Rexall, while the Thrashers will also go Nord of da border to heap more shame on the mess that is the Canadiens.
Wednesday, March 25th
San Jose @ Chicago - The Sharks are still trying to re-gain their composure as the Hawks have looked ordinary at best for the last week or so. A win at the United Center would be a huge confidence boost for either team, and not a first round flunkie.
- And Florida @ Buffalo, every remaining game for the Cats is important. Buffalo, still has a shot? (Read like, "I'm Ron Burgundy?")
Thursday, March 26th
Florida @ Philadelphia - Panthers have to show they can play with playoff bound teams.
Calgary @ Columbus - First round matchup, perhaps?
Tampa @ Montreal - Off with their heads if they blow this one. Vinny at the Bell. Dreamy.
San Jose @ Nashville - Another potential first round date?
Vancouver @ St. Louis - Believe it or not, as of this moment the Blues are two points out.
Friday, March 27th
NY Islanders @ Detroit - I'm kidding, relax.
Edmonton @ Anaheim - Who wants to make the playoffs? Who? Who does?
Saturday, March 28th
NY Rangers @ Pittsburgh - Self-explanatory.
Buffalo @ Montreal - If the Slugs can't make it to the dance, they can at least be a spoiler.
Columbus @ St. Louis - The 1st of a home and home weekend, betting both will be battles.
Sunday, March 29th
Nashville @ Detroit - I'm getting tired of this. No I'm not. Potential 1st round.
St. Louis @ Columbus - Part Two.
Vancouver @ Chicago - A first round 4 and 5 seed matchup, nice.
Boston @ Philadelphia - Does either team have what it takes?
I'll follow up week by week as conditions change, and gets meaner.