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Round 2
Round 3
Stanley Cup Final

Sabres host Leafs; first-place B's visit Philly

Wednesday, 02.04.2009 / 3:00 PM / Game-Day Skate

By Adam Schwartz - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Maple Leafs renew their rivalry with the Sabres (7:30 p.m. ET, TSN, NHLN-US) in one of five games in the NHL Wednesday night.

In addition to the Toronto-Buffalo game, the Bruins visit the Flyers; the struggling Penguins host the Lightning; the Coyotes look to claw their way back into a playoff spot in the Western Conference when they face off against the Red Wings, and the Ducks begin a three-game road trip in Minnesota.

Here's what to watch:

* Boston center David Krejci, who has scored just 4 of his 18 goals on the road this season, has the second-most points among Czech-born NHL players with 53. Krejci, who had a minus-3 rating in 56 games last season, has a plus-26 rating in 51 games this season, including a plus-9 rating during road games.

* The Flyers, who are tied for the fourth-best penalty kill in the Eastern Conference at 83.1 percent, have been shorthanded the third-most times in the conference. Philadelphia, which is two points behind the Canadiens for fourth in the conference, has been outshot in 33 of their 49 games this season.

* Toronto defenseman Luke Schenn, who missed 12 games with a lower-body injury, still has 40 more hits than any Maple Leaf at 126. Schenn, whose brother Brayden is expected to be selected in the first round of the Entry Draft in Montreal this June, is the only Eastern Conference rookie defenseman to average more than 20 minutes of ice time.

* Sabres right wing Ales Kotalik, who has scored 15 goals in his last five seasons, has 10 goals in 44 games and is on pace to finish this season with 17 goals. Kotalik, who has 5 goals in 24 Buffalo wins and 5 goals in 20 Sabres losses, has just 2 goals in his last 17 games.

* Tampa Bay right wing Mark Recchi, who has won the Stanley Cup three times, leads the team with 13 power-play assists. Recchi, who has had 10 seasons with 70 points, has 8 assists and 10 points in his last 10 games.

* The Penguins, who could become the third Stanley Cup Finalist in three seasons to miss the playoffs the following season, are in 10th place in the Eastern Conference and are three points out of the playoffs. Pittsburgh, which has lost four of their last five games, had the fourth-best power play in the League last season at 20.4 percent, but have the 23rd-best power play this season at 16.5 percent.      
* Phoenix right wing Shane Doan, who has a minus-11 in 47 career games against the Red Wings, is one of just two players in the League -- Alex Ovechkin is the other -- with at least 136 hits and 48 points. Doan, who played for the Western Conference at the All-Star Game in Montreal, has eight more assists than any of his teammates.

* Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek, who leads the League with 180 blocked shots, averages the most ice time on the team at 23:09. Michalek, who had 13 assists and 17 points in 75 games last season, has 14 assists and 17 points in 52 games this season.

* Detroit center Johan Franzen, who is tied for the team lead with 8 power-play goals, has never scored more than 27 goals in a season. Franzen, who is scheduled to become a free agent this summer, is one of eight Red Wings with a plus-10 rating or better.

 
* Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, who has had 60 points in four of his last five seasons, is second on the team and third among Central Division defenseman with 33 points. Lidstrom, who leads Detroit defensemen with a plus-17 rating, has 54 points and a plus-19 rating in 71 career games against the Coyotes, including 2 goals in their last meeting.

* Anaheim left wing Chris Kunitz, who plays alongside Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, has 3 goals in his last four games after being held goalless in 12 of his last 13 games. Kunitz, who leads the team with 128 hits, is second on the team with 11 even-strength goals.

* Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom, who leads the Northwest Division with a 2.26 goals-against average, has yielded more than 3 goals just four times in 42 games this season and just once in his last 21 games. Backstrom, who is scheduled to become a free agent this summer, is tied for the third-most wins in the League at 24. 

Contact Adam Schwartz at aschwartz@nhl.com.

Once again, it shows character in this dressing room. Once again, there's no quitting in here. We all wanted this so bad and we worked so hard to get home-ice advantage and we weren't going to let this one slide.

— Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog on his team's OT Game 1 win vs. Minnesota Wild