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NHL weekend preview: The Battle of Pennsylvania

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The NHL playoff picture gets clearer by the day. Soon, teams will be clinching being in the playoffs. Soon, Buffalo will officially be out of the postseason race and then can focus even more on preparing for 2014 NHL Draft. It's another big weekend of games. There are nine games on Saturday and nine on Sunday. That's some nice symmetry. Get ready for some March Madness, which is a thing I just made up.

On Saturday afternoon, Pittsburgh is visiting Phildelphia. That's good in and of itself, but, if I may skip ahead to Sunday briefly, on Sunday afternoon on NHL on NBC, the Flyers visit the Penguins. So it's a home-and-home weekend in Pennsylvania. The Penguins are definitely in the playoffs, but the Flyers are still fighting for a spot. So these are two big games. Exciting stuff.

Ottawa faces Montreal as the Canadiens try and hold onto their playoff spot while the Senators try and get one. Also, I don't know why we don't all talk about Peter Budaj's Ned Flanders helmet more. It's the best goalie mask ever. Rest in peace, Edna Krabappel (she married Ned, you people who stopped watching The Simpsons a decade ago). New Jersey and Tampa Bay are both vying for playoff spots, but the Devils are close to falling out of the race I reckon.

Columbus squares off with Minnesota in an old school Western Conference battle. Now, the Blue Jackets are out East, and both teams are trying to make the playoffs, an event that has been very rare for Columbus. The day ends with Anaheim taking on Los Angeles. That is a great game. It doesn't have a ton of playoff impact, because both teams are making it, but the teams are quite good.

There's a bunch of afternoon games Sunday even after Philly-Pittsburgh Round 2. Vancouver visits Florida, which I only mention because, you know, Roberto Luongo. By the way, things are going great for the Canucks. Good times being had by all up there. Toronto faces Washington in a good matchup. The Sharks visit the Rangers, which feels like a game I have never seen happen before. I mean, I know it has, but it feels unusual.

Colorado takes on Ottawa. That's pretty alright. Chicago hosts Detroit. That game used to be a lot more fun when I didn't have to worry about the Wings missing the playoffs. Detroit doesn't need to be taking on the Blackhawks right now, especially on the road. The day ends with Dallas and Winnipeg. It has playoff implications, so I figure I had to mention it.

Quite a few good games this weekend. I'm looking forward to it. The playoffs are less than a month away. Enjoy the games.

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