What a crazy week in the National Hockey League, eh? Teams struggling, coaches getting fired and trade rumors running rampant. In this week's installment of "The Week Ahead", we will give you our "Three stars of the week", "Three players to keep an eye on", "Teams to watch", "Game of the week", and "Other games to keep an eye on".
Three stars of the week
1. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
Jonathan Toews continues to show why he is the perfect captain for the Chicago Blackhawks. In three games this week, Toews picked up four points (2 goals and 2 assists), fired 11 shots on goal and picked-up a ton of ice time in leading his Blackhawks to two wins.
2. Matt Moulson, New York Islanders
The New York Islanders may be struggling to play consistent hockey this season but one player who is not struggling for the Islanders is Matt Moulson. In three games this week, Moulson picked up 7 points (6 goals and 1 assist), including a 4-goal performance on Saturday night in a 5-4 win over the Dallas Stars.3. Ryan O'Reilly, Colorado Avalanche
O'Reilly came up big for the Avalanche last week, tallying four goals and three assists in three victories. He scored twice on Sunday to help the Avs beat Detroit for the first time this season.
Three coaches to keep an eye on
Instead of looking at players this week, we figured it would be best to take a look at three head coaches with something to prove this season.
- Bruce Boudreau, Anaheim Ducks
When Boudreau was let go by the Washington Capitals early this week, one figured that it would take some time for him to be rehired by a National Hockey League club.
Turns out, it was only a day or two as the Anaheim Ducks quickly took Boudreau off the market and hired him to be their new head coaching after saying goodbye to Randy Carlyle. In his first game as Ducks' head coach, Boudreau's new club blew a 3-0 lead to the Philadelphia Flyers. His club then blew a 2-0 lead against Minnesota on Sunday.
Boudreau will look to get things back on the right track against the Kings, Blues and Predators.
- Dale Hunter, Washington Capitals
When the Washington Capitals placed new head coach Dale Hunter behind the bench, they were hoping for a different approach that would help the team start winning hockey games again.
In three games behind the bench, Hunter is 1-2-0. In those three games, the Capitals have only scored 5 goals as they continue to struggle to provide consistent offense.
This week, Hunter will look to get his team scoring again in games against the Panthers, Senators and Maple Leafs.
- Kirk Muller, Carolina Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes are continuing to struggle, even with a new head coach behind the bench.
Kirk Muller has stepped in and has gone 0-3-0 in his first three games as an NHL head coach. His team has lost to the Florida Panthers, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 11-6.
This week Muller will look to pick up his first win as an NHL head coach against the Flames, Oilers and Jets as part of a four-game road trip.
Teams to Watch
- Boston Bruins
It is obvious that the Boston Bruins are the hottest team in the NHL right now. They did not lose a game in regulation in the month of November and have won 13 games in their last 14. They are clicking on all cylinders and now have the second best record in the Eastern Conference.
This week, the Bruins will take on the Penguins, Jets, Panthers and Blue Jackets.
- Detroit Red Wings
Speaking of the hot teams in the NHL, the Detroit Red Wings are certainly right up there. The team had won 7 straight games prior to Sunday's loss in Colorado. The club is playing much better defensively and getting great goaltending from Jimmy Howard.
This week, the Red Wings will take on the Blues, Coyotes and Jets.
Game of the Week
Monday, December 5 -- Boston @ Pittsburgh
This could be the matchup of the season as the two best teams in the Eastern Conference will go at it in Pittsburgh at 7 p.m.. Both teams are on fire and both teams know how to put the puck in the net and get good goaltending. Should be an absolute dandy in the Steel City.
Other Games to Keep an Eye on
Monday, December 5
Boston at Pittsburgh
Toronto at New York Rangers
Washington at Florida
Tuesday, December 6
Detroit at St. Louis
Los Angeles at Anaheim
Minnesota at San Jose
Wednesday, December 7
Philadelphia at Buffalo
Thursday, December 8
Florida at Boston
Pittsburgh at Phildelphia
Friday, December 9
Carolina at Winnipeg
Saturday, December 10
Tampa Bay at Philadelphia
Minnesota at Phoenix
Edmonton at Calgary
Sunday, December 11
San Jose at Chicago
Florida at New York Rangers
Photo credit: Getty Images
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