By Rob Kirk
on Wednesday, February 20th
It’s hump day and spring training is under way for baseball. The NFL draft is just a week or two away and the NBA mid season classic provided a dunk contest with players nobody has ever heard of.
My point is that you SHOULD be watching hockey! There is no faster, more physically taxing, violent and intense game on the planet. I respect the other sports and the talent required to compete at an elite level.
Hockey incorporates the hand-eye coordination of baseball, the physical collisions of football, the perpetual motion of soccer, the hand-to-hand combat of fighting and well, virtually nothing with basketball. But I digress.
There are some key matchups this week in the NHL and every game makes a difference. Most teams are at the 17-ish game mark, which means that a third of the season is gone. The Chicago Blackhawks may not lose a game this season. Tuesday night they set an NHL record with their 17th game played without a defeat. That’s impressive in any sport folks.
With an abbreviated season the games mean more, players are playing with a greater sense of urgency. Every night provides a storyline. Here are some “must see” matchups for the remainder of the week.
5. Vancouver at Detroit, Sunday-The Canucks visit the Red Wings for the first time since they snapped Detroit’s 23-game home winning streak.
4. New Jersey at Washington, Saturday-With a weird shortened schedule the Capitals hos the Devils twice in three days. Familiarity breeds contempt, and the Capitals need to start winning to get out of the southeast division basement.
3. Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh, Sunday-The Penguins host a matchup of the three brightest stars in the NHL. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Steven Stamkos will let it all hang out in a crucial eastern conference match up.
2. San Jose at Chicago, Friday-The Blackhawks look to continue their historic run against the tough San Jose team that has learned how to win again.
1. Philadelphia at Pittsburgh, Wednesday-Claude Giroux and the Flyers invade the Consol Center in Pittsburgh to reacquaint themselves with Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. This is the best rivalry in the NHL today.