Sidney Crosby will be a big story this week as he plays his first NHL games in Western Canada. Crosby will have played 186 career games before visiting Edmonton, Calgary or Vancouver. With that in mind, here's five games we'll be keeping an eye on this week:
Detroit Red Wings at Montreal Canadiens: The NHL's unbalanced schedule has kept these former Original Six rivals from meeting very often in recent years. This game will feature two of the NHL's higher-scoring teams and an intriguing goaltending battle - 42-year-old Dominik Hasek of the Wings against 20-year-old Carey Price of the Habs. Detroit enters the week with the league's best record.
Tampa Bay Lightning at Ottawa Senators: This matchup features two struggling teams looking to turn things around. The Sens lead the Eastern Conference despite being winless in six and have been hearing it from fans that expect nothing short of a Stanley Cup. Meantime, the Lightning have just one win in their past seven games. They feature the NHL's leading scorer in Vincent Lecavalier.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Edmonton Oilers: A young Oilers team has been playing some good hockey of late while the young Penguins have been languishing. This game could be as exciting as they come in December. Consider the number of players aged 21 and under that will be on the ice at Rexall Place: Andrew Cogliano, Crosby, Sam Gagner, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal. They all play important roles with their team too.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Vancouver Canucks: We won't be able to resist another chance to see Sid the Kid play in a hockey-mad city. This game will provide a textbook example of how important a goalie is - the Penguins are a deeper team than Vancouver outside the crease but Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo has proven to be quite the equalizer during his time in Lotus Land. This game will be shown to a national audience on Hockey Night in Canada.
New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers: This game between rivals features two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. The Devils enter the week on a seven-game winning streak and will be looking for their first victory over the Rangers this season. It's the fourth meeting between the teams. Adding to the intrigue is the presence of Scott Gomez, the longtime Devil who signed a big free-agent contract with the Rangers over the summer.