Ninth place Toronto has made the trip down to Atlanta to take on the Southeast Division leading Thrashers. A win for the Leafs will mean a 3-way tie for 7th, but the Leafs lose the tie-breaker because of less wins and will remain in 9th place. A loss for the Leafs will move them down to 11th, behind the Islanders and Hurricanes because of the tie-breakers. Atlanta wants to extend their lead over the Lightning to five points and move a little closer to finally clinching their playoff spot. As of right now, the maximum amount of points 7th through 10th can get is 96 and the Thrashers are sitting at 89 going into this game. 4 wins out of their last 5 games would guarantee the division win.
Detroit needs a win in regulation to take top spot in the conference and a tie for top spot in the league. Nashville, on the other hand, needs a point for the outright lead (but both Detroit and Buffalo have games in hand) in the standings. Detroit has been having a bit of a tough time in their last 5 games, going 1-2-2. This is the best time to turn it all around... especially since Nashville is only 2-4-1 this season against the Red Wings, with one of those losses coming at home in the Nashville Arena.
With Calgary's magic number down to three, they'll want to make quick work of this hurdle into the playoffs and they'll need another performance against the Wild like they had on Tuesday. The Wild despite their shootout loss is still 9-0-1 in their last 10 and still didn't play too badly against the Flames on Tuesday. Miikka Kiprusoff (Box 6) will have to stand on top of his head again as the Wild won't let two slide too easily. A win for the Wild would give them first in the division until the result in Los Angeles is resolved, but the Canucks will still have a game in hand.
The Avalanche will try and keep their playoff hopes alive in the desert. With destiny out of their own hands, they will just have to keep winning to hope that their games against Calgary mean something down the stretch. Phoenix is a great place to start winning again, as the Coyotes are 2-6-2 in their last 10... a team who's been out of the playoffs for some time now. The Avalanche are 2-0-1 against the Coyotes this year and their last meeting was a 6-3 win for the Avs at the Glendale Arena.
The Canucks can continue their reign over the Northwest with a good result in LA tonight. This late game will feature the NHL debut of defenseman, Jack Johnson. A name to remember for future pools. This is the third meeting between these two teams and the Canucks hold a 1-0-1 record against the Kings this year, winning at the Staples Center on their only other previous visit. Depending on the result of the Wild/Flames game, the Canucks can re-take the lead or open a bigger lead with a win. You know I'm hoping for the latter!
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