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NHL: 4 things to know for tonight's games

04/03/2015 11:31 EDT | Updated 06/03/2015 05:59 EDT
Montreal's (and probably the NHL's) best player is expected to be on the bench as the Canadiens try to right the ship in time to salvage their Atlantic lead, while the race to the bottom resumes for the Sabres and Coyotes.

Here are four things to know about tonight's NHL games:

Atlantic waters choppy for Habs

The Canadiens' recent malaise (just four points and only one win in their last five) has seemingly cost them a shot at the Presidents' Trophy (Anaheim is four points up) and dented their hopes of securing the East's top playoff seed (the Rangers lead by two). Now it's time to worry about the Atlantic Division, as Montreal tops Tampa Bay by just one point after Thursday night's shootout loss to Washington.

Montreal still has a game in hand on the Lightning but plays three of its final four on the road: at New Jersey tonight, at Florida Sunday, home to Detroit on Thursday and at Toronto for the season final on April 11. The Bolts are at Florida Saturday, then home to Jersey and Boston to finish out.

Price gets a breather

With Carey Price coming off a long, though not especially busy, night (he allowed four goals on only 19 shots, plus another one in four shootout attempts) backup Dustin Tokarski is expected to get the nod against the Devils.

It's a big drop-off. Price deserves to win not only the Vezina but also the Hart Trophy. He owns at least a share of the league lead in all four major goaltending categories with a 1.95 goals-against average (no other qualifier is under 2.07), .930 save percentage, nine shutouts and 41 wins. Tokarski is allowing close to a full goal more per game (2.81 GAA) with a .910 save percentage.

Devils also go with backup

Luckily, the Devils aren't very good. They rank 25th out of 30 in the NHL's overall standings and have lost six in a row while scoring only seven goals. Their leading scorer is Adam Henrique, who has 41 points in 70 games.

Better still for Montreal, the Devils plan to give No. 1 goalie Cory Schneider the night off in favour of backup Keith Kincaid. 

Tank battle resumes

The race to the bottom (and the best odds of winning the draft lottery) resumes as worst-overall Buffalo hosts Chicago and second-worst Arizona visits San Jose with both teams hoping their chances of drafting either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel will increase.

The Sabres and Coyotes each have five games remaining. Buffalo is two points behind (or ahead, if we're being real) and would likely lose (win) the tiebreaker because it has only 14 (!) non-shootout wins to Phoenix's 18.

The NHL can't be happy with the Sabres' and Coyotes' shameful (if understandable) ambition to lose as many games as possible down the stretch, but the marketing folks don't seem averse to trying to make a few bucks off it:

And, yes, that tweet has been deleted.

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