NHL Games of the Week: Saturday, March 11th to Friday, March 17th

NHL games of the week

William Karlsson #25 of the Columbus Blue Jackets battles for a loose puck with Tyler Bozak #42 and Matt Hunwick #2 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period of a game on February 15, 2017 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images

Mick Kern from NHL Network Radio here. We’re running down the must-hear NHL games of the week, including the Lightning at the Rangers and the Leafs visiting the Blue Jackets:

Saturday, March 11th – Calgary Flames at Winnipeg Jets
7:00 PM Eastern – Sirius XM 91

This Western Canadian battle features two teams that missed the playoff cut last season.  The Flames have been, yes, red-hot as of late, and that has them moving up in the Pacific Division.  The Jets most likely path back to the playoffs will be via the last Western wildcard, and the two points up for grabs this evening are crucial, as time is quickly running out on the 2016-17 regular season.

Sunday, March 12th – Washington Capitals at Anaheim Ducks
9:15 PM Eastern – Sirius XM 219

While the Capitals are once again the cream of the crop of the NHL this season, the Ducks find themselves in a fight for a favourable position in the Pacific Division.  Anaheim will make the playoffs, but will they finish first (as they usually do), or will they slip down the standings?  As for Washington, they know they’ll ultimately be judged by how far they go in the post-season.

Monday, March 13th – Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers
7:00 PM Eastern – Sirius XM 91

Always a good game when these two teams meet up.  Things have not gone as planned this season for the Lightning, who most expected to be in the running for top spot in the Atlantic Division.  Instead, they’ve fighting for an Eastern Conference wildcard spot, and they’re close.  As for the Rangers, most likely they will either finish second or third in the tough Metropolitan Division, or they will claim the first wildcard spot.  While their home record is good, the Rangers are road warriors this season.

Tuesday, March 14th – Vancouver Canucks at Pittsburgh Penguins
7:00 PM Eastern – Sirius XM 91

Caught up in that Metropolitan Division battle are the Penguins, the defending Stanley Cup champions.  Most likely they won’t catch Washington for first; the question remains whether they will finish second, third, or claim the first wildcard.  Over in the Western Conference, the Canucks were tabbed to be the worst team in the league.  Instead, they have clawed their way to within spitting distance of a wildcard spot.

Wednesday, March 15th – Toronto Maple Leafs at Columbus Blue Jackets
7:00 PM Eastern – Sirius XM 91

Two teams that most people didn’t think would qualify for the playoffs this season.  Instead, both are in the mix.  The Blue Jackets are in a heated battle for second place in the Metropolitan Division; they’ll be in a playoff spot come the end of the regular season.  That remains to be seen with the young Leafs, who looked headed for the second spot in the Atlantic Division, until a recent unsuccessful Western road trip.  There is still time to right the ship, though time is running out.

Thursday, March 16th – New York Rangers at New York Islanders
7:00 PM Eastern – Sirius XM 91

While the Rangers are a lock to make the playoffs come mid-April, the Islanders still can’t print playoff tickets just yet.  The head coaching change has breathed life into this squad, who were one of the league’s major disappointments earlier this season.  A Rangers-Islanders game always bring the best out of both sides.

Friday, Friday, March 17th – Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets
7:00 PM Eastern – Sirius XM 91

These two teams are fighting each other for second spot in the Metropolitan Division, and home ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Who will end up with that coveted spot?  Flip a coin, and keep in mind the New York could end up passing both of these teams.  This game tonight should have a playoff atmosphere to it.

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