Monday: Chicago Blackhawks at Detroit Red Wings, 7:30 p.m. ET
The Blackhawks are only one point clear of the danger zone in the West and desperately need to put together another win streak to ensure their playoff entry. The rival Red Wings would love nothing more than to knock Chicago out of the playoffs and can have a big say in that with three games left between the two clubs, Monday night as well as a home-and-home to wrap up the regular season.
Prediction: The desperate team comes up with the needed two points, the Hawks prevailing in overtime.
Tuesday: Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 p.m. ET
Memo to the Flyers: Check your rearview mirror. The Crosby/Malkin-less Penguins begin the week only two points behind the rival Flyers for the conference and division lead. Imagine the Penguins somehow winning the Atlantic after playing pretty much half the season without their star-center duo? Nothing short of unbelievable.
Prediction: The Flyers say no way, beating the Pens in Pittsburgh in regulation.
Tuesday: Vancouver Canucks at Nashville Predators, 8 p.m. ET
The Canucks are setting franchise records on a nightly basis these days, a first-ever 50-win season soon to be followed by a first-ever President's Trophy. But on this night, they tangle with arguably the hottest team in the West, the Preds winners of six straight as they look to move up the standings.
Prediction: The Canucks cool off the red-hot Preds in overtime.
Wednesday: New York Rangers at Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m.
The surging Rangers and equally hot Sabres are gearing toward passing the fading Habs for sixth in the East. Buffalo is just two points behind the Rangers and what better chance to move up the standings than a big win over the Rangers.
Prediction: The Sabres win 1-0 as Ryan Miller outduels Henrik Lundqvist in a defensive gem.
Wednesday: Anaheim Ducks at Calgary Flames, 9:30 p.m. ET
Well, this is THE game of the year for the Flames, who are hanging by a thread in their playoff chase. Having played 77 games already as the week began, Calgary must beat No. 7 seed Anaheim to have any chance of staying alive. The Flames start the week two points behind the Ducks and one point behind No. 8 seed Chicago, but the Hawks have three games in hand, while Anaheim has two games in hand.
Prediction: It all comes crashing down for the Flames as the visiting Ducks take a 3-2 win in regulation.