Monday, December 13, 2010
Burnside: This week's games to watch
By Scott Burnside
First place in the tightly packed Pacific Division is on the line Monday night. The Stars have to be worried about the health of starter Kari Lehtonen, who has missed a couple of starts with soreness in his back. Andrew Raycroft likely will get the start if Lehtonen can't go. The Sharks will be looking for rookie scoring leader Logan Couture to keep up his good work.
Prediction: The Sharks jump into first with a win.
Might be the best game of the week as the Penguins put their 12-game winning streak on the line. Captain and NHL scoring leader Sidney Crosby has an 18-game point streak going, too. The Flyers, who have lost just once in regulation in their past 11 outings, can leap over the Pens to the top spot in the Eastern Conference as well as the Atlantic Division with a regulation win in this one.
Prediction: The Pens and Crosby keep streaks alive with an overtime win.
With the Washington Capitals slumping, this game takes on even more meaning with the Southeast Division lead now within hailing distance of both the Lightning and the Thrashers. Atlanta has won eight of 10, and the Lightning are looking to find some consistency between the pipes after returning from the West Coast. The Bolts continue to be among the top scoring teams in the NHL.
Prediction: The Lightning, though still without Vincent Lecavalier and Steve Downie, will prevail at home.
This is another matchup with divisional implications as the Bruins began the week just two points behind Montreal for first in the Northeast with two games in hand. Assuming Carey Price will face off against Tim Thomas, this tilt has Vezina Trophy possibilities, too. The Bruins and Habs represent two of the top defensive clubs in the league, so goals will be hard to come by.
Prediction: The Bruins come up big in Montreal to close the gap on the Habs.
The Blackhawks have played better of late even without Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa, who are on the injury shelf. Corey Crawford continues to do yeoman's work between the pipes for the Hawks, who are a curiously tepid 8-8 at home this season. Detroit remains the cream of the crop in the Western Conference and is one of the most dangerous road teams in the NHL. Chris Osgood finally returned from injury last week and should help give Jimmy Howard some much-needed rest.
Prediction: The Wings come up with a big road win, although it might take extra time.