Hockey Day in America is finally here and we have a full slate of games to digest along with a national audience. NBC is rolling out the red carpet to showcase a jewel of it’s expansion into the sports media realm, but by giving the NHL A-List treatment, the network is helping the ressesitation of a sport that tried it’s damnedest to kill itself this offseason.
But the lockout is behind us and right now we’ve got three juicy games to get to before the day is done. First up is a great matchup between the red hot Pittsburgh Penguins and the struggling Buffalo Sabres.
Buffalo Sabres vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
12:30pm ET on NBC, TSN2 | First Niagara Center – Buffalo, NY
The Penguins enter this game sitting a point behind the New Jersey Devils and are currently five points behind the NHL leading Chicago Blackhawks. But despite this, the Penguins are still the fourth best team in hockey but remain in that same place when it comes to their positioning within the Eastern Conference playoff hunt. The Penguins need the Devils to lose again, as New Jersey’s embarrassing 4-1 loss to the Islanders on Saturday night set them back in their quest to pull away from the Pens in the Atlantic Division.
A win against a struggling Sabres team is exactly what the Pens need, but Buffalo isn’t going to give up without a fight.
The Sabres may be 6-8-1 but they’re only two points behind the New York Rangers for the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff seed. A win against one of the conference’s best teams would go a long way in giving Buffalo a much needed confidence boost. The Sabres have lost two of their last three but are coming off a solid 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins who sit in fifth place in the East.
Buffalo also has two of their next three games against major opponents with the Maple Leafs sitting in sixth place in the East while the Islanders are a spot ahead of them at the moment. Don’t count out the Winnipeg Jets either, as they’re currently still in the playoff hunt if only mildly.
The Pens need this win more than the Sabres do as right now Pittsburgh is riding a two game winning streak they’re hoping can propel them back into first place in not only the Atlantic Division but in the Eastern Conference.
We have a lot of questions entering this game: will the Pens make it three in a row, can the Sabres add this as a confidence booster, will Matt Cooke slice anyone with his skate? Stay tuned to Fansided.com to find out and to keep up with all the action from Hockey Day in America.