Here they come... presented by Amway. Really.
Last week a topic of conversation around Nashville was how woeful the Predators have played on home ice, which is just one reason why Saturday's impressive victory over Anaheim was so welcome. As we look ahead to the upcoming week, however, the Preds will face three particularly tough challenges, against Western Conference rivals who are all playing well right now...
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Calgary Flames - Tuesday
The Flames have been on a pretty good tear since we last saw them (a 1-0 loss on November 29), as Calgary is 6-1-1 in their last 8 games. Leading the way, naturally, is the Predator Killer himself, Jarome Iginla, who has 5 goals and 6 assists in that span. That's right, he has more points in the last 8 games than he had in his first 21, and will prove to be a handful once again for the Preds.
|2011 - Jarome Iginla||29||11||10||21||-2||19||2||0||2||87||12.6|
Detroit Red Wings - Thursday
It's always a big night when the Red Wings come to town, and Thursday night marks the first visit by Detroit this season to Bridgestone Arena. With 13 wins in their last 17 games, the Red Wings are smoking-hot as well. Along the way, fans in Motown are getting worked up over the idea of their man in goal being an All-Star candidate:
|2011 - Jimmy Howard||24||1425||17||6||1||44||1.85||640||596||.931||3|
St. Louis Blues - Saturday
For my money, this is the critical matchup of the week. Before the start of the season I was concerned that St. Louis would be the team to battle alongside Nashville for a playoff spot all season long, but since the Blues switched head coaches and brought in an experienced winner in Ken Hitchcock, they look more like a contender to unseat Detroit & Chicago at the top of the Central Division (just check out which 3 teams are leading the NHL in the puck-possession battle to this point).
And while Jaroslav Halak continues to put up mediocre results after having been signed as a free agent in St. Louis a year ago, look at what their $600,000 backup has done (in what is yet another data point for the case about not throwing big bucks at goalies):
|2011 - Brian Elliott||15||866||12||2||0||21||1.45||396||375||.947||4|
So what are your thoughts on this week's games, and what is a reasonable expectation for how many points in the standings the Preds should earn?