Monday, January 16, 2012

Gainer's Top NHL Games of the Week

Hello Rock Bottom readers!  Each Monday I hope to preview the top NHL match ups of the week.  All teams are past the halfway point in their season and it's the march to try and eek out every point for the playoffs.  Enjoy!

Monday - 1/16
  • Boston @ Florida 7:30pm ET
    • One of the surprise teams of the year so far is definitely the Florida Panthers.  Historically awful at hockey down in the sunshine state, they are now in contention for the Southeast Division lead.  They take on the defending Stanley Cup Champs to see if they are up to snuff with the big boys.
  • Dallas @ St. Louis 7:30pm ET on NBC Sports
    • The Blues early on the season fired their coach and brought in Ken Hitchcock who has absolutely turned the season around.  They have become one of the top teams in the Western Conference and take on a very young Dallas Stars squad who is battling for a top 8 seed.  Dallas cannot afford to fall too far behind.

Tuesday - 1/17
  • Nashville @ New York Rangers 7:30pm ET on NBC Sports
    • Nashville, while never star studded, always finds a way to make it into the post season year in and year out.  They take on the best team in the Eastern Conference at Madison Square Garden.  Featuring two of the top goalies in the NHL, it should be a very good matchup of these teams in a great inter-conference matchup.
  • Los Angeles @ Vancouver 10pm ET
    • The Canucks have found their stride after some early season struggles and take on a feisty Kings squad who are trying to find their identity.  The Kings are on a bit of a roll in the past couple weeks and seem to be clicking under their new coach.  However, the Canucks have been the class of the West for a few years now.  This should be an epic game and perhaps a playoff preview.

Thursday - 1/19
  • Pittsburgh @ New York Rangers 7pm ET on NHL Network
    • The Penguins cling to a playoff spot without top players such as Sid Crosby, Jordan Staal, and Kris Letang.  They face not only the top Eastern Conference team in the Rangers but also a huge division rival.  It’s the time of year where every point begins to matter so expect a heavy hitting game and desperation for the Pens.  

Saturday - 1/21
  • New York Rangers @ Boston 1pm ET on NHL Network
    • It’s a battle between the two top teams in the Eastern Conference.  Frankly, that’s all you need to say.  Lundqvist vs. Thomas.  Which one of these teams wants to call itself the best?
  • Philadelphia @ New Jersey 1pm ET
    • Two intense Atlantic Division rivals clash.  The Devils desperately want to get back into the playoffs after a miserable season last year.  The Flyers are still trying to get their feet wet after the Winter Classic loss.  Watch out for the legendary Marty Brodeur in this one.
  • San Jose @ Vancouver 4pm ET on NHL Network
    • These 2 teams met in the Western Conference Finals this past season as they are two of the top teams each year battling for the Western Conference Championship.  It is no different this year.  This game will be high on emotion as they are both top 3 teams so far this year as well.
  • Chicago @ Nashville 8pm ET
    • A much underrated Central Division rivalry.  Chicago is a high flying, top notch offense with studs all throughout the line-up.  Nashville is built from the goal out.  It’s offense versus defense in a game where playoff positioning is of utmost importance.

Sunday - 1/22
  • Washington @ Pittsburgh 12:30pm ET on NBC’s NHL Game of the Week
    • This marks NBC’s first of their Sunday Games of the Week until the end of the season.  These two teams hate each other.  Both teams have struggled this season with injuries but being on national television, there won’t be any shortage of emotion and/or skill on the ice.  Look for Ovechkin vs. Malkin in this game.
  • Boston @ Philadelphia 3pm ET
    • The Winter Classic game from 2 years ago is a battle of Eastern Conference juggernauts.  Boston has won their Stanley Cup.  The Flyers organization and their fans are craving one after losing 2 years ago in the Finals.  Expect big hitting in this game because neither teams wants to give an inch to the other.