NHL Games of the Week: Saturday, February 18th – Friday, February 24th

NHL

Zach Hyman #11 of the Toronto Maple Leafs scores a short handed goal against the New York Rangers during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on January 19, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

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

Saturday, February 18th – Nashville Predators at Minnesota Wild
8:00 PM Eastern – Sirius XM 222

Wouldn’t this make for an exciting Western Conference Final come the end of May?  For now, these two teams are battling for a more advantageous playoff position; the Wild would like to pad their lead in the tough Central Division, while the Predators are looking to move on up.

Sunday, February 19th – Boston Bruins at San Jose Sharks
8:30 PM Eastern – Sirius XM 220

The change at the head coach position has injected some much needed life into a Bruins team that can still challenge for top spot in the Atlanta Division.  As for the Stanley Cup Finalist Sharks, they have been immersed in a season-long fight for first in Pacific Division, and are looking to put some distance between themselves and the Ducks and Oilers.

Monday, February 20th – Florida Panthers at St. Louis Blues
8:00 PM Eastern – Sirius XM 91

Two other teams that changed up their head coaching roles midway through this season, both have benefited from a fresh voice.  The Blues, who entered the 2016-17 season as one of the Stanley Cup favourites, hope to entrench their position in the top three in the Central, and not drop down to a wildcard spot.  Over in the East, the Florida Panthers have moved themselves back into the conversation regarding an Eastern Conference wildcard.

Tuesday, February 21st – Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers
7:00 PM Eastern – Sirius XM 91

Since the Christmas break, the Montreal Canadiens have pretty much stumbled after yet again another hot start to their season.  This time, they have All-Star goaltender Carey Price in net, so the big question is what’s wrong with the team?  Management couldn’t wait for answers, so they said goodbye to head coach Michel Therrien, and brought in former Bruin’s bench boss Claude Julien.  This is Julien’s second go around with the Habs, having been the head coach from 2003 to 2006. They’ll receive no sympathy from the Broadway Blueshirts, who are in the tough Metropolitan Division.  With their record, the Rangers would be leading the Atlantic Division; instead, they could end up as a wildcard team.  This could be a preview of a first-round playoff matchup.

Wednesday, February 22nd – Edmonton Oilers at Florida Panthers
7:30 PM Eastern – Sirius XM 91

While the Panthers have been a disappointment so far this season, the Oilers no longer are, finally working their way into the playoff mix in the Western Conference after a decade of being an afterthought.  The Oil’s home record is so-so, but they have been road warriors this year, and face a Florida team that are better at home than away.

Thursday, February 23rd – New York Rangers at Toronto Maple Leafs
7:30 PM Eastern – Sirius XM 91

While the Rangers can print playoff tickets, it’s not the case with the Maple Leafs.  Granted, this season wasn’t about making the playoffs, it was about developing the impressive young talent on the roster.  And that they have, to the point Toronto are challenging for an Eastern Conference playoff spot.  Even if they fall a bit short this time around, the Leafs have served notice they are back as a post-season contender.

Friday, February 24th – Edmonton Oilers at Washington Capitals
7:00 PM Eastern – Sirius XM 91

This would be a marketer’s dream NHL Stanley Cup Final. Alexander Ovechkin vs. Connor McDavid. The Oilers could get there, though they’re no doubt happy to finally be back in the playoff hunt.  Not so for the Capitals; they expect to go far this spring, and many picked Barry Trotz’s team to hoist the Stanley Cup come mid-June.  On any given night, these two teams could combine to make this a 7-6 game.  This is can’t miss Friday night viewing!

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