Monday: Los Angeles Kings at San Jose Sharks
The Sharks are starting to round into form a bit with two straight wins and points in three straight games. But they’ll need to have it all going on to keep up with Western Conference-leading Los Angeles. The Kings have won six straight games and eight of nine, and have the top-ranked defense in the NHL.
Prediction: The Sharks knock the Kings down a peg on home ice.
Tuesday: Philadelphia Flyers at Montreal Canadiens
The Habs will be without Andrei Markov, who injured his right knee in a big win against Carolina on Saturday. The Flyers, meanwhile, have been routing opponents and locking up their young stars to long-term contract extensions. The Flyers are 8-0-1 in their past nine games.
Prediction: The Flyers keep rolling at the Bell Centre.
Wednesday: Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Islanders
Both teams are struggling. The Islanders will try to halt a 10-game winless slide that cost coach Scott Gordon his job Monday. Minor league coach Jack Capuano will be behind the bench (with an interim tag) for the Isles in his first NHL head-coaching appearance. The Lightning, meanwhile, have been hit by injuries and are struggling to score, as they’ve lost three in a row and posted just one win in their past seven outings.
Prediction: The Isles will provide the perfect tonic for the struggling Bolts.
Thursday: New Jersey Devils at Toronto Maple Leafs
Both GMs have insisted their respective coaches are safe even though the clubs had a combined 10-18-5 record as of Monday. That said, losing to terrible teams always heightens the anxiety, so there is a certain amount of pressure not to be the one to be humiliated. The Devils are actually OK on the road with a 4-5-0 record.
Prediction: Ilya Kovalchuk will score the winner in a shootout as the Devils win the Losers’ Cup.
Friday: Ottawa Senators at St. Louis Blues
The Blues are struggling with their own injury issues with a battered blue line and T.J. Oshie out of the lineup. They were 6-0-1 at home, but started the week in the midst of a three-game winless streak that included an 8-1 pounding against Columbus last week. Meanwhile, the Senators are finding a groove behind netminder Brian Elliott, who had won five straight games and seven of eight to begin the week.
Prediction: The Blues best the Sens behind Jaroslav Halak.
My record from last week’s games: 1-4.