Two of Canada’s top hockey teams clash, and more NHL Games of the Week

EDMONTON, CANADA - JANUARY 16: Mattias Ekholm #14 of the Edmonton Oilers battles with David Kampf #64 of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the third period on January 16, 2024 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

The push to the playoffs continues this week, with one of the highlights being a meet-up between Edmonton and Toronto. Hear all the action on SiriusXM NHL Network Radio.

Saturday, March 23rd – 7 pm Eastern – SiriusXM 91
Edmonton Oilers at Toronto Maple Leafs

It’s Connor McDavid vs. Auston Matthews.  It’s Leon Draisaitl vs. William Nylander. It’s another return of soon-to-be 50-goal scorer Zack Hyman to the home of his first NHL team. And it’s two of the top Canadian-based teams in the NHL meeting up, as the Canadian Cup winning drought threatens to extend to 31 years this spring. Both the Oilers and Maple Leafs will make the playoffs, though it remains to be seen where they both finish in the standings and which teams they then face in the opening round.  Both teams will only go so far as their goaltending, which has run hot and cold for both squads this regular season.  No pressure.

Sunday, March 24th – 2 pm Eastern – SiriusXM 91
Pittsburgh Penguins at Colorado Avalanche

It’s been quite the season so far for both of these teams. The Avalanche won it all only two years ago and seem hellbent on doing so again. Led by the machine we commonly refer to as Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado plays in the very tough Central Division, where the Avs, Dallas Stars, and Winnipeg Jets have been literally neck-and-neck point-wise for most of the season. On the other hand, the aging yet talented Penguins loaded up for one more run at the Cup with the Almost Over The Hill Gang…and it looks like they’ll come up considerably short. The Pens may still qualify for the post-season, as the collective level of competitiveness of most of the teams jockeying for the final wild card in the Eastern Conference is not something to brag about. But they’re not expected to advance that far if they do make it in. Pittsburgh has only won a solitary playoff series since last winning the Stanley Cup back in 2017.

Monday, March 25th – 9 pm Eastern – SiriusXM 91
Los Angeles Kings at Vancouver Canucks

It’s been a charmed season to this point for the Vancouver Canucks, but even though they’ve led the Western Conference in points for most of the way, and the entire league at times, for that matter, there are some whispers concerning the playoff chances of the Canucks. Are they built for the post-season? Tonight, they welcome in a Kings’ team that has been fighting for third spot in the Pacific Division for weeks now, flip-flopping back-and-forth with the Vegas Golden Knights. Do you wanna play the Oilers in the first round or the Avalanche, Jets or Stars?

Tuesday, March 26th – 7 pm Eastern – SiriusXM 91
Boston Bruins at Florida Panthers

It’s The Battle of the Atlantic, as the two top battleship teams in that division meet in South Florida. Both of these teams have gone back-and-forth holding top spot in the division, and the prize is facing one of the (perceived?) weaker wildcard teams in the NHL Eastern Conference. The second-place finisher appears headed towards an opening-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

Wednesday, March 27th – 7:30 pm Eastern – SiriusXM 91
Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay Lightning

The Bruins travel to Tampa to face the Lightning, who appear destined to snare the first Eastern Conference wildcard slot. Tampa has played better lately and looks more like the team that recently won back-to-back Stanley Cups.

Thursday, March 28th – 10 pm Eastern – SiriusXM 91
Dallas Stars at Vancouver Canucks

First place is still very much up for grabs in the Central Division, so the two points available tonight matter very much to the Dallas Stars. They also matter to the hometown Canucks, who should finish in top spot in the Pacific Division, but the Oilers aren’t that far behind them.

Friday, March 29th – 7 pm Eastern – SiriusXM 91
New Jersey Devils at Buffalo Sabres

It’s The NHL Underachievers Cup or more to the point, it’s the Last Gasp Bowl. Both these teams have been massive disappointments this season, and while they both still could make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, that speaks more of the overall mediocrity of the vast majority of the Eastern wildcard teams than it does to the relative strengths of the Devils and Sabres. Both New Jersey and Buffalo are labelled as disappointments this 2023-24 season because so much was expected from them. New Jersey racked up an impressive 112 points last season, while Buffalo missed the playoff cut by one single point (they finished with 91).  The reasons for their respective setbacks are numerous, but nobody gives you a sympathetic post-season. If both teams don’t play beyond mid-April (and even if they do), it’ll be interesting to see what changes they affect in the off-season and what type of start both teams get off to in October.