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Weekend Watch: The NHL's Dark Horses

With the Stanley Cup Playoffs drawing near, teams who haven't cliched a playoff spot are looking at this weekend as probably the most important weekend of the season. Most teams will be playing twice this weekend, especially with a total of twenty-four games going on between Friday and Sunday. If these games weren't circled on the calendar before, there is no question that they are now.

Two of those teams are the Washington Capitals and the New Jersey Devils out of the Metropolitan Division. Neither of them are in a playoff spot yet, however, that's not to say that after tonight's game, one team will be closer to seeing the post season.

That team being the Washington Capitals who are currently sitting at 81 points, three points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, and five points behind the second wild card position currently held by the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Devils aren't as "fortunate" as the Capitals; they are currently sitting at 80 points which puts them in the same ballpark as the Capitals. This being that a win tonight would be crucial. Fortunately for the Devils, they will have the luxury of playing in front of their home fans. If the Devils want to get this crucial win and surpass the Capitals in the standings, they will have to shutdown forward and assistant captain, Nicklas Backstrom and captain, Alex Ovechkin. The Devils will also have to utilize defender, Andy Greene as well as veteran forward, Jaromir Jagr.

There is nothing better than a moral boost on the road to get the boys back into a winning mentality. This scenario is highly possible for the Philadelphia Flyers as they travel to Boston on Saturday.

After a heartbreaking shootout loss against the Bruins last Sunday as well as being shutout by both the St. Louis Blues and the Columbus Blue Jackets this previous week, the Flyers will be looking to get a much needed win on Saturday. Boston will not go down without fight. They are currently leading the Eastern Conference with 111 points which ties them at first in the league with the St. Louis Blues. If Boston wants to sweep the Flyers in their last meeting of regular season, they will be looking at forwards, Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron to get past Flyers goaltender, Steve Mason, who remains at 5-2-1 in his past eight starts with a save percentage of .932. This game will be a definite dogfight. 

To wrap up the weekend, the Dallas Stars travel to the Sunshine State to face off against the Florida Panthers in Tim Thomas's return to Florida for the first time since being traded to the Stars. It is more than likely that Thomas will not get the start between the pipes, but you never know, head coach Lindy Ruff might want to see how he matches up against his old team in front of his old fans.

Its pretty clear that the Panthers won't be seeing the post season light this year as they are currently sitting at fifteenth in the Eastern Conference with a total of 62 points, they are ten points behind the New York Islanders who are currently at fourteenth in the conference. This game is more about the Stars than the Panthers since the Stars are looking to maintain their wild card position. Essentially, every game from here on out matters for the Stars, with six games remaining in their regular season, they will be looking to get some crucial points especially on the road against the Panthers. 

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