High Five: Top Games to Watch Next 5 Days

Dana Lane

Friday, March 30, 2018 2:56 PM UTC

Friday, Mar. 30, 2018 2:56 PM UTC

Let’s take a look at the most important games over the next five days in the NHL's closing stretch and how we might begin handicapping those matchups. Records are entering Friday.

It seems like yesterday that the Vegas Golden Knights were dropping the puck on their inaugural season against the Dallas Stars. No matter how quickly we all want the postseason to get here, there is a lot of hockey to be played to determine playoff positioning. Here are five games that are huge over the next five days for the postseason.

Friday: Kings (43-28-7, 93 points) at Ducks (39-25-13, 91 points)

Let’s try to make some sense of the Pacific Division playoff scenarios because they change every day. The Kings and the Ducks are fighting for the third spot in the Pacific. As of now, the Kings occupy the third spot by two points over the Ducks, who are clinging to the last wild-card spot. Anaheim has a game in hand. The Kings are just 3-7 in their last 10 visits to the Honda Center.

Saturday: Sharks (44-24-10, 98 pts) at Golden Knights (48-22-7, 103 pts)

Only one way to describe this one: The Sharks must win this game or Vegas will win the Pacific Division in their inaugural season. Vegas owns a five-point lead as of Friday morning, but with a win over the St. Louis Blues Gerard Gallant’s team may have a seven-point lead, which would all but put the division out of reach for the Sharks.

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Calling it now,

No one does this like Sid. pic.twitter.com/uJMrPoYNjf

— NHL (@NHL) March 30, 2018

Sunday: Capitals (46-24-7, 100 pts) at Penguins (44-28-6, 94 pts)

The Capitals can’t help themselves. This was supposed to be the year where Barry Trotz’s team was to take a step back. I guess their idea of taking a step back is another 100-point season and a five-point lead over the Penguins, who still have a slim chance of catching the Caps. With the Capitals at home against Carolina and the Pens hosting Montreal, the point differential should stay intact heading into this one. I’m leaning towards Pittsburgh in this one.

Monday: Avalanche (41-28-8, 90 pts) at Kings (43-28-7, 93 pts)

The Kings' situation has already been talked about, but the Avalanche might be facing a win-or-out situation in this one -- or it could be a win-and-in game. As of Friday, the Avalanche trail the Ducks for the final wild-card spot but with one head-to-head meeting remaining.

Tuesday: Bruins (48-17-11, 107 pts) at Lightning (51-22-4, 106 pts)

The Bruins have taken over the lead in the Eastern Conference with their 4-2 win Thursday over the Lightning in Boston. This is five days away, but it’s likely that this one will be for the Conference lead. Boston has winnable games against the desperate Florida Panthers and at Philadelphia. Tampa Bay will have played the New York Rangers and the excellent Nashville Predators before this one. It’s a tough road to have played the Predators prior to this one. Boston may once again be the play here.

That’s a look at the next five days. Next week we’ll see where the dust has settled as the NHL postseason picture will be clearer after Tuesday.

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