Two must-see NHL playoff previews on tap Thursday

NHL, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images )
NHL, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images ) /

As the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs rages on, Thursday’s action in the NHL features a pair of potential first-round matchups.

Every game is important this time of year, but when a team can measure itself against a rival that it may play in the opening round of the playoffs, it can really get a feel for where it’s at right now.

That will be the case on Thursday, first in the Eastern Conference, as the New York Rangers take on the New Jersey Devils.

Entering Thursday’s action, these Metropolitan Division rivals are separated by only two points in the standings. The Devils’ 100 points give them the edge in terms of home-ice advantage, but that can all change with this head-to-head matchup.

The NHL has two must-see games on Thursday.

The momentum favors the Rangers coming into this game, as they are 9-1-1 in their last 11 games. Conversely, the Devils are 2-4-2 in their last eight and are struggling to hold off their surging rivals.

If New York continues its winning ways, we’ll have a tie for second in the Metro with first place well within reach.

In the Western Conference, Thursday features a Pacific Division showdown between the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings. Again, this matchup features a second-place team and a third-place team, with the smallest of margins separating the two.

The Kings currently have the edge with 96 points in 74 games, but the Oilers are hot on their heels with 95 points, though they’ve played one extra game.

This game is extra enticing because both teams have been on fire in March. Edmonton is 9-1-1 since the second week of the month, while LA is 10-1-2 dating back to the end of February. Thursday’s clash will therefore be a test for two playoff-bound teams playing at a high level.

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With as close as the standings are in the NHL right now, it’s impossible to know which teams will finish in which positions. Games like the ones on Thursday night will have major impacts on how everything shakes out, so you won’t want to miss them.