Burnside: This week's games to watch
Monday: Kings at Sharks, 10 p.m. ET
The Kings, who have won five of their past six games, can secure a playoff berth with a win at the Shark Tank and take another step toward home-ice advantage in the first round. Meanwhile, the Sharks, who have won three in a row and seven of eight, can wrap up the Pacific Division crown with a win.
Prediction: We heard a rumor that Mr. LeBrun went 5-0 in games-to-watch predictions last week. Well, stand back! The Sharks keep it rolling with a win.
Tuesday: Lightning at Sabres, 7 p.m. ET
The Sabres earned a huge win in overtime versus Carolina on Sunday thanks to goalie Jhonas Enroth's stellar work in relief of the injured Ryan Miller. The Sabres haven't clinched a playoff berth yet but could pass Montreal for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. The Lightning, meanwhile, seem to have found a second wind with five straight wins. They have not given up more than two goals in any game during the streak and have a shot at home-ice in the first round if they can reel in Pittsburgh.
Prediction: Tampa puts the heat on the Pens and Sabres with a win.
Wednesday: Red Wings at Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET
The Red Wings pulled off two big wins this past weekend to lock up the Central Division. Getting Pavel Datsyuk and Jimmy Howard back was key to hitting the playoffs on a high note. The Hurricanes, meanwhile, will pretty much need to run the table this week if they hope to catch one of the three teams at the bottom of the bracket (Montreal, Buffalo and the New York Rangers).
Prediction: The Wings will turn out the lights of the Canes' playoff hopes.
Thursday: Thrashers at Rangers, 7 p.m. ET
Can the Thrashers play the spoiler by beating the playoff-hopeful New York Rangers? The Blueshirts play a tough one Monday night against Boston, so this game looms large. Throw in the history between the two head coaches, John Tortorella in New York and Craig Ramsay in Atlanta, and there's plenty of drama to go around here.
Prediction: The Rangers move closer to the postseason with a win.
Friday: Blackhawks at Red Wings, 7:30 p.m. ET
The Hawks are not doing anything the easy way; they lost to Tampa on Sunday to keep Dallas' and Calgary's playoff dreams alive. Plus, the defending Cup champs close the regular season with a home-and-home versus Detroit. This is Act I.
Prediction: The Blackhawks take the drama out early with a win at Joe Louis Arena, but will it be enough?