The Bruins, tops in the Eastern Conference with 39 wins and 85 points, are 6-1-3 over their last 10 while the Western Conference-leading Sharks, with 36 wins and 79 points, boast a 6-2-2 mark over the same time frame. Players from both sides will likely dub the meeting just another regular-season game -- don't believe it.
"I think it's a meaningful game," Boston General Manager Peter Chiarelli told NHL.com. "San Jose is the best in the West right now and they're the prototypical playoff team -- big and they have skill. I know the players are talking about it."
The Sharks are currently second in the League in shots per game (34.6) while allowing the fewest shots against (26.8). The contest not only features two of the League's finest sophomores in Boston's David Krejci (19 goals, 56 points) and San Jose's Devin Setoguchi (22 goals, 46 points) but three dynamite juniors in Boston's Phil Kessel (24 goals, 44 points) and San Jose's Ryane Clowe (20 goals, 43 points) and Joe Pavelski (13 goals, 37 points).
"That's one of the teams we can measure ourselves against, for sure" Krejci told NHL.com. "It's just another game and the playoffs are far ahead. We have lots of time to work on our stuff."
Bruins All-Star goalie Tim Thomas (24-5-5, 2.10 goals-against average, .932 save percentage) was in the majority when reminded of the matchup at a recent practice.
"We'd forget we were playing San Jose if we weren't reminded by the media all the time," he said. Thomas is 8-1-2 in his last 11 games and 15-2-2 in his last 19, including a career-best seven-game win streak from Dec. 4-30.
While Bruins wing Michael Ryder will miss the matchup with a fractured facial bone, he recently admitted the matchup offers certain intrigue.
"We don't play those guys very much and they're the top team over there," Ryder said. "It's going to be a really good test for us to see where we stand and it'll be an exciting game. I'm looking forward to it."
Sharks center Joe Thornton will be making his second trip to Boston as a member of San Jose. Thornton played seven-plus seasons with the Bruins before being traded to the Sharks in November 2005.
"I feel like I've been a Shark for a long time now," Thornton said. "It'll be a little bit funny, but I don't think now, being through it once before, it's going to be a big challenge for me."
In eight games since joining the Devils in January, Shanahan has 3 goals and 4 points on 16 shots. Devils coach Brent Sutter will likely opt to rest Shanahan on and off throughout the remainder of the regular season to give his veteran, who turned 40 on Jan. 23, time to recuperate.
"We have a lot of hockey coming up here," Sutter told Rich Chere of the (Newark) Star-Ledger. "He's no different than any other player. We have to be smart and be aware that he's been going real hard here. We're not talking about a spring chicken. He's getting pretty close to the same hair color I have."
The Devils are third in the Eastern Conference with 33 wins and 69 points and the Rangers are fifth with 29 wins and 63 points.
Return of a King -- On Thursday, Calgary Flames center Mike Cammalleri returns to Staples Center in Los Angeles to face the team for which he spent five of his first six NHL seasons.
In an earlier meeting with his former mates on Nov. 25 in Calgary, Cammalleri scored a goal and registered a game-high 8 shots in a 6-2 victory. For the season, Cammalleri is first on the team with 27 goals and 13 power-play goals and second with 50 points. The Flames are first in the Northwest Division and third in the Western Conference with 30 wins and 64 points.
At the NHL Entry Draft last June, Cammalleri was traded to the Flames in a three-way deal between the Anaheim Ducks and Kings. The Flames acquired Cammalleri from the Kings in exchange for the 17th overall pick in the draft. Los Angeles then dealt that 17th selection (Jake Gardiner) and its 28th pick to the Ducks for their 12th overall pick.
The Kings, bidding to make the playoffs for the first time since 2001-02, have won six of their last seven games. The club is currently tied for 11th in the Western Conference with 23 wins and 53 points.
"We're a young group of guys and it's been a learning experience at times this year," Kings center Patrick O'Sullivan said. "Since Christmas, we have really picked up our game. We have to keep trying to push forward and make the playoffs. That's our goal."
On Feb. 14, 1934, Bruins defenseman Eddie Shore and Maple Leafs forward Ace Bailey shook hands before the start of an all-star benefit game at Maple Leaf Gardens. The lasting legacy of this friendly gesture was the birth of the All-Star Game, which would be introduced 13 years later.
Just two months before the historic handshake, Shore ended the career of Bailey, and nearly his life, when he hit the Toronto star from behind. As Bailey fell, he hit his head on the ice, fractured his skull and lay twisted and twitching in a seizure-like state. After two brain operations, Bailey would recover to live a normal life, but his hockey career was finished.
Shore was given a suspension and the League staged a benefit game for Bailey and his family on that memorable February day in Toronto. Bailey, in his street clothes, met Shore, dressed in his hockey equipment ready for the game, at center ice. He handed Shore an All-Star sweater with number 2. The two shook hands and the rest was history.
Celebrate hockey in America -- Hockey Weekend Across America is a three-day celebration of the sport of hockey that will be held Friday through Sunday this week. The objective, of course, is to celebrate hockey and all those involved in the game at all levels while exposing the sport to a wider audience.
Each of the three days offers a theme. Friday is Wear your Favorite Hockey Jersey to school day, Saturday is Bring a Friend to the Rink Day and Sunday is Celebrate Local Hockey Heroes Day.
Friday - Wear Your Jersey Day - Sponsored by ShopUSAHockey.com
• A day set aside to showcase your hockey spirit by wearing your favorite jersey from any level of hockey (youth, high school, college) to school.
Saturday - Bring a Friend to the Rink Day - Sponsored by the NHL
• It makes no difference what event is staged or where you go, whether an open skate, youth game or a professional game, the objective is to bring a friend to the rink to introduce them to the sport.
Sunday - Celebrate Local Hockey Heroes Day - Sponsored by Liberty Mutual's Responsible Sports
• The final day is one to honor coaches, timekeepers, officials and players through special recognition events. The day could be used as a fundraising effort to show the community what hockey has done for their association.
CENTER - PHI
GOALS: 18 | ASST: 32 | PTS: 50
SOG: 146 | +/-: +18
The Rangers scored a 4-3 victory on Oct. 11 in Philadelphia, holding off a furious Flyers rally after opening a four-goal lead in the first period. Last season, the Flyers went 3-3-2 against the Rangers with center Mike Richards posting 2 goals and 4 assists in 7 games. Richards scored once in the earlier meeting this season.
The Rangers have outscored the Flyers, 38-26, including four shutouts over their last 11 meetings with their rival. The Flyers are currently fourth in the Eastern Conference with 28 wins and 65 points while the Rangers rank sixth in the playoff race with 29 wins and 63 points.
"There are no two ways about it, these teams hate each other and always will," said NBC analyst Mike Milbury.
Air time -- The NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman and co-host Bill Clement will again air Thursday from 4-5 p.m. ET on NHL Home Ice (XM Channel 204 and Sirius Channel 208).
NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman provides the latest news and events from the highest levels of the NHL. The show encourages fans to submit questions via phone and email. To submit questions to NHL Hour call 1-877-645-6696 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The archived shows of The NHL Hour, a production of NHL Radio, are available for download on NHL.com via a podcast. NHL Hour is a production of NHL Radio.
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com.