As the NHL moves closer to the heart of its schedule, there are several intriguing matchups this week. Here's a quick look at five games we'll be keeping an eye on in the coming days:
Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers: The Pennsylvania rivals enter the week with the same number of points in the standings and will likely continue to battle for position in the Atlantic Division all year. Sidney Crosby also has his second-highest career points total against the Flyers - entering with 32 points (14-18) in 18 career games against Philadelphia. The only team he's scored on more is the New York Islanders.
Ottawa Senators at Carolina Hurricanes: A matchup of two of the Eastern Conference's top teams through the first couple months of the season. The Senators and Hurricanes are also the last two East representatives in the Stanley Cup. Carolina won the only other meeting between the teams this season.
New Jersey Devils at Boston Bruins: Not only does this game feature a Bruins team built in true New Jersey style, it also pits Boston coach Claude Julien against the Devils team that fired him abruptly last season. Julien's Bruins play a shutdown style while the Devils remain stingy as well. Not that any of that showed when the teams met earlier this month - the final score was 4-3 in overtime for the Devils.
Calgary Flames at Tampa Bay Lightning: A rare meeting between the teams that played in the 2004 Stanley Cup final. Calgary has experienced its share of struggles so far this season and will be in tough while playing at St. Pete Times Forum, where the Lightning are 11-3-2. Both of these teams expect to be challenging for playoff spots come the spring.
Vancouver Canucks at Edmonton Oilers: This game caps a very busy stretch for Vancouver, which will be playing its fourth road game of the week when it visits the Oilers. It's already the fifth time this season that these teams will play each other. The Oilers and Canucks have split those games, with Edmonton winning the last two in a shootout.