LeBrun: This week's games to watch
March, 14, 2011
By Pierre LeBrun | ESPN.com
Monday: San Jose Sharks at Chicago Blackhawks, 8 p.m. ETIn a rematch of last spring's Western Conference finals, the Sharks and Blackhawks have played some of the best hockey in the NHL over the past month, and both clubs have positioned themselves as serious contenders once again. The Sharks won all three previous meetings this season with Antti Niemi in goal for all three victories against his former team.
Prediction: The Hawks finally beat San Jose this season, but need overtime.
Tuesday: Phoenix Coyotes at Calgary Flames, 9:30 p.m. ETThe Coyotes and Flames begin the week two points apart in the crazy Western playoff race. The Coyotes have won all three season meetings against the Flames, including last Thursday's 3-0 affair in Glendale.
Prediction: The Flames win a low-scoring, defensive affair at home.
Wednesday: Washington Capitals at Detroit Red Wings, 7:30 p.m. ETA precursor to a Stanley Cup finals matchup? There's a few teams that will have a say in that, but you can't deny that both clubs are contenders. The Caps are on fire, having won eight in a row, while the Red Wings have two straight victories following a mini-slump.
Prediction: The Wings take advantage of Washington playing the night before in Montreal and beat the Caps in regulation.
Thursday: Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens, 7:30 p.m. ETA visit by Tampa's French-Canadian club is always a treat, led by Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier. But this will be an important game in the standings. The sixth-seeded Habs begin the week only two points behind the fifth-seeded Bolts in the Eastern Conference.
Prediction: The Habs will need extra time but will edge Tampa in an entertaining affair.
Saturday: Anaheim Ducks at Los Angeles Kings, 10:30 p.m. ETThe Southern California rivals begin the week four points apart in the mad scramble that is the Western Conference playoff race, Anaheim on the outside looking in. The Ducks and Kings play two more times after Saturday's affair, wrapping up the regular season with a home-and-home April 8-9 in what could potentially be two gigantic games.
Prediction: The Kings are on fire and won't slow down for the Ducks, beating Anaheim in regulation.