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Monday, January 17, 2011
LeBrun: This week's games to watch

By Pierre LeBrun

Tuesday: Washington at Philadelphia, 7 p.m. ET

The Flyers, newly minted as ESPN.com’s top-ranked team, take on the Caps in a possible playoff preview. Washington owner Ted Leonsis wasn’t happy after Friday’s 4-2 home loss to Vancouver, but the Caps rebounded with a victory over Ottawa on Sunday. Tuesday’s game is a chance for the Caps to show their new defensive game in a tough environment.

Prediction: The Flyers are just too hot right now. While the Caps will play a good game, we see Philly winning, 4-3.

Tuesday: Detroit at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. ET

We debated whether to put this game on the list given that stars Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh) and Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit) won’t be in the lineup. Still, both teams are hanging in there despite the injuries, and it’s always interesting to see the 2008 and 2009 Cup finalists tangle.

Prediction: The Red Wings take this one 2-1 in a defensive, grind-it-out battle.

Tuesday: Vancouver at Colorado, 9 p.m. ET

Forward Chris Stewart is back for the Avs, so it’s time to get going. And what better time to make a statement than with a big win against Northwest rival Vancouver. Heading into the game, the Canucks are 12 points ahead of the Avs for the divisional lead.

Prediction: The Canucks are in a sour mood after dropping two of three games, a rare thing for them this season. They’ll take it out on the Avs in a 4-1 win.

Saturday: Chicago at Detroit, 2 p.m. ET

The Blackhawks finally seem to be turning a corner, as they’ve battled the Stanley Cup hangover all season long. They have the whole week off until Saturday’s game in Hockeytown, USA.

Prediction: The Blackhawks beat the injury-riddled Wings, 3-2.

Saturday: Ducks at Canadiens, 7 p.m. ET

Saku Koivu makes his return to Montreal for the first time since leaving two summers ago. We predict a warm reception for the former Habs captain, who overcame cancer while in a Canadiens uniform. There may be a few tears shed in the Bell Centre on Saturday night.

Prediction: Koivu scores the shootout winner in a 3-2 Ducks victory.