By: Adam Gretz
The Pregame Skate is back. Every morning for the rest of the season we're going to take a look at the games that have the greatest significance in the push for the postseason for you to digest while you drink your java. We'll throw in some miscellany for the fun of it.
8 PM, Buffalo at Winnipeg: Ah, yes, the joys of the chaotic playoff race in the NHL.
The Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets enter Monday's game separated by just two points in the standings, and with a win in regulation the Sabres would actually move into a tie with the Jets for the No. 8 playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 70 points, and still have a game in hand.
It's been quite a turnaround for the Sabres after a dreadful mid-season slump, and a lot of it has to do with the recent play of goaltender Ryan Miller, who has been playing some of the best hockey of his career.
The Jets, meanwhile, need a win to keep pace with the Florida Panthers, winners on Sunday night, in the Southeast Division race, and have the advantage of playing in their own barn which has provided them with one of the best home ice advantages in the league this season. Needless to say, it's going to be a playoff atmosphere at the MTS Centre on Monday night as it's probably one of the biggest games the city of Winnipeg has seen in ... oh, about 15 years.
7 PM, Phoenix at Pittsburgh: Unbeatable in February, the Coyotes have stumbled a bit during their first two games March and are coming off a brutal home loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets over the weekened.
It doesn't get any easier on Monday night as they head into Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins, winners of five straight and owners of the second best point total in the Eastern Conference.
The Penguins don't have much of a chance to catch the Rangers for the No. 1 spot in the division and conference, but they are still fighting for the No. 4 seed and home-ice advantage in the first round, entering Monday's game two points ahead of the Flyers, four points ahead of the Devils and five points ahead of the Senators.
They've outscored their opponents 22-7 during their current five-game winning streak.
The Coyotes have quite a bit of company in the Pacific Division race, and enter Monday's game tied with the Dallas Stars for the top spot with 75 points (Phoenix has a game in hand) and two points ahead of the San Jose Sharks.
10 ET, Edmonton at Anaheim: The Ducks miracle run is starting to run out of time, still seven points out of the No. 8 spot in the West and still trailing four teams.
On Monday they get a visit from the Edmonton Oilers, one of the worst teams in the league, and perhaps the worst road team in the league.
A win is an absolute must in a game like this, and a loss would be a potentially crushing blow to their already slim postseason chances
Your promised miscellany
- Sunday's Winners & Losers
- Panthers forward Kris Versteeg appears to improving and hopes to be back on the ice this week after suffering what was believed to be a hip injury [Miami Herald]
- Perhaps Ilya Bryzgalov is starting to find his game again. It would certainly be a good time for the Flyers. [Philadelphia Daily News]
- The difficulties of buying low and selling high for an NHL general manager [Backhand Shelf]
- Is Climate change threatening outdoor hockey in Canada? [Globe and Mail]
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