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Five things to watch: Statement game between B's and Pens

Tonight, in his most daring stunt yet, Sidney Crosby will grapple with a 6-foot-9 Slovakian brown bear — INSIDE A STEEL CAGE. Eleven games this Saturday and here's five storylines to get you set for the action.
The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Tonight, in his most daring stunt yet, Sidney Crosby will grapple with a 6-foot-9 Slovakian brown bear — INSIDE A STEEL CAGE. Eleven games this Saturday and here's five storylines to get you set for the action.

Statement game between B's and Pens

It's the final regular season matchup (already!) between two clubs that could once again meet in a deep playoff round in 2014. The Pens will again be without Evgeni Malkin, but his absence didn't stop them from thumping the Sharks 5-1 on Thursday for their fifth straight victory. The Bruins fell 2-1 to the Habs on Thursday and they lost Johnny Boychuk to a back injury. He'll miss up to a week. In the defeat, Boston fell to second in the Atlantic Division. Pittsburgh holds firm at No. 1 in the Meh-tropolitan, 10 points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes. The Jarome Iginla double-cross storyline may be buried, but these teams always play each other at 100% competitiveness, as evidenced by their past five regular season games being decided by one goal.

Tough times in Ontario

The Leafs and Sens have combined for seven wins in their past twenty games. Despite Toronto's recent slide, they occupy the final playoff spot in the East thanks to their strong October. The Sens, who've yet to put together a lengthy stretch of solid play this year, sit seven points back of the Leafs for the final wild card spot. Toronto and Ottawa are 30th and 27th respectively in shots allowed per game, and neither are killing penalties at better than 80 percent. Crucial points on the line in this one for both clubs; Ottawa needs to inch closer to a playoff spot with a win on home ice, while the Leafs will face the powerhouse Bruins, Kings and Blues after tangling with their provincial rivals.

'The Stratford Saskatchewan Streak'

Not only is Saskatchewan native Ryan Getzlaf working on an impressive multi-season hair-loss streak, he's also riding a 12-game point streak, the longest in the NHL. The Ducks aren't quite as hot as their captain, but they've managed at least a point in eight of their past 10. They enter tonight's contest with the Blues tied with San Jose atop the Pacific with 43 points. If Getzlaf doesn't continue dominating, the Ducks won't stand a chance in this one -- in addition to playing Friday night, Anaheim are without Mathieu Perreault, Luca Sbisa, Francois Beauchemin and Jakob Silfverberg.

Peasants versus Royals

The Islanders were supposed to take another step forward this year, but their game has disintegrated, resulting in one win in their past 10 games. As a result, rumors of Jack Capuano's imminent dismissal have surfaced along with rumblings that Peter Laviolette is quietly being considered for the head coaching gig. They'll visit a well-rested Kings team coming off wins against the Blues and the Ducks. Not an easy task for the Isles.

The basement Battle of Alberta

No one's surprised by Calgary sitting well out of a playoff spot, but the Oilers were supposed to be a playoff team this year. Their dreadful start has unofficially eliminated them from playoff contention, but they've shown signs of life recently. They've won six of their past 10, highlighted by 8-2 and 7-0 blowout victories. They've shown glimpses of the explosive offense we all thought they were capable of heading into the season, but Edmonton haven't yet found solid footing. David Perron has exceeded expectations with 24 points in 26 games and Taylor Hall broke through with a hat trick and an assist against Colorado. Even a small string of victories for Edmonton could inspire some confidence and set them on the right path for the remainder of the season.


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