5 NHL games to watch this week

Here are the five best NHL games to watch this week starting December 12. 

This week in the NHL will feature some very fascinating showdowns. A few of them could serve as playoff previews. Several include division leaders. No matter which kind of match ups you like, you’ll get a great one this week.

If you enjoy seeing two hot teams going at it, the two hottest teams in hockey entering the week will square off on Friday. Like seeing a player face his old team for the first time? Kyle Okposo will be facing the New York Islanders for the first time in his career on Friday. Even if you simply enjoy two of the best teams going at it, two Stanley Cup favorites go at it on Saturday. Here are the five best NHL games of the week.

5. Minnesota Wild vs. Nashville Predators

Two Central Division rivals will go at it on Thursday Dec. 15 when the Minnesota Wild visit Bridgestone Arena to square off against the Nashville Predators. This will be the first time these two teams face each other during the 2016-17 season. Both teams are looking to continue their push for the postseason.

Nashville and Minnesota have evenly matched offenses. While the Wild have 75 goals, the Predators have 78. The huge difference between the two rivals has been their defenses. Though Nashville has allowed 78 goals, Minnesota has allowed just 56. At home this season, the Predators have a 9-2-2 record. Meanwhile, on the road, the Wild have a 6-5-4 record.

This will be the first time P.K. Subban will face Minnesota as a member of the Western Conference. It will also be the first time Bruce Boudreau faces Peter Laviolette as the head coach of the Wild. The game will start at 8:00 p.m. ET and can be seen on Fox Sports Tennessee, Fox Sports North, and Fox Sports Wisconsin.

Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

4. San Jose Sharks vs. Ottawa Senators

Two of the best teams in the NHL go at it on Wednesday Dec. 14 at 7:00 p.m. ET when the San Jose Sharks travel to the Canadian Tire Centre to face the Ottawa Senators. This game will be shown on Sportsnet, TVAS, and CSN-California. Entering Dec. 12, the two teams are in the playoffs, as the Senators are in second place in the Atlantic Division while the Sharks hold the first wild card.

So far this season, Ottawa has been carried by their goaltending. Craig Anderson has been one of the best stories this year. Erik Karlsson is one of the best scorers in the league as a defenseman and has a good chance of winning his third Norris Trophy. Meanwhile, though the Sharks’ offense hasn’t been up to par, their defense has made up for their flaws. However, San Jose has a 6-7-1 record on the road this season while the Senators.

3. Chicago Blackhawks vs. New York Rangers

On Friday, the Blackhawks and Rangers had a classic with New York coming out on top 1-0 in overtime. This Tuesday, the two teams will do battle once again, this time at the historic Madison Square Garden. The game starts at 7:00 p.m. ET and will be aired on NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVAS, MSG 2, and CSN-Chicago.

Both teams lead their respective divisions going into Dec. 12. Expect another great game. Even though their 1-0 affair was low scoring, it was a very exciting game that featured two excellent goaltending performances.

Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

2. Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Calgary Flames

Two of the biggest surprises this season have been the Columbus Blue Jackets and Calgary Flames. Both teams are riding huge winning streaks and currently find themselves in the playoffs. They each have won six straight games entering Dec. 12. On Friday Dec. 16 starting at 9:00 p.m. ET, the two surprise playoff teams will do battle. The game will be shown on Sportsnet West and Fox Sports-Ohio.

Columbus has been led by a Vezina Trophy caliber year from Sergei Bobrovsky. Also, Calder Trophy candidate Zach Werenski has been outstanding for them. Captain Nick Foligno is having a great year after a terrible 2015-16 season. Meanwhile, the Flames have been energized by the return of star forward Johnny Gaudreau.

1. Montreal Canadiens vs. Washington Capitals

Two of the best teams in the NHL will face each other on Saturday Dec. 17 when the Montreal Canadiens travel to the Verizon Center to take on the Washington Capitals. This game starts at 7:00 p.m. ET and will be shown on CITY, TVAS, CSN-DC, and NHL Network. The two teams have been among the best teams this season since the first week of the season. Entering this week, many consider both to be Stanley Cup contenders.

Montreal has been led by goaltender Carey Price. Meanwhile, the Capitals are led by reigning Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby and captain Alex Ovechkin. Nicklas Backstrom has quietly been leading the team in points.

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