Originally written January 09, 2012 on Red Light District Hockey:
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Welcome to another installment of "The Week Ahead". Once again, it was a crazy and interesting week in the National Hockey League with the All-Star starters being announced, the NHL realignment plan being rejected by the NHLPA and, of course, a ton of great action. As always, it is time to 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 Week1) Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles KingsWhile the Los Angeles Kings are still struggling to put the puck in the net, their netminder Jonathan Quick certainly is not struggling to keep them out.

In the last week and in five games, Quick has allowed just three goals and has gone 3-1-1 in that span. He stopped 59 of the 61 shots he faced in three games last week. Quick continues to be the main reason why the Kings will be in the hunt for a playoff spot in the tight Western Conference.

2) Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche
One reason for the Colorado Avalanche's hot streak is the play of Semyon Varlamov in net. Varlamov was dynamite in two games last week, shutting out Chicago and coming away with a big effort in Los Angeles. Overall, he stopped 58 of the 59 shots he faced last week, helping the Avs stay hot in the jam-packed Western Conference.
3) Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay LightningThe Tampa Bay Lightning may not be as good as last season but one player that continues to be on the top of his game is Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos. In four games this week, Stamkos scored five goals. With his five goals, Stamkos increased his league-leading goal total to 28 and is also sixth in the league in points with 45.
Three Players to Keep An Eye On- James Reimer, Toronto Maple LeafsIs there a goaltending controversy brewing in Toronto? There certainly could be as Toronto Maple Leafs' starting netminder James Reimer has not played since New Year's Eve. Meanwhile, backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson has started and won three straight games for the Leafs.
This week, Reimer will look to get a start against the Buffalo Sabres (twice) and New York Rangers.
- Jarome Iginla, Calgary FlamesThere is no doubt that the Calgary Flames are struggling and that there are rumors abound that something might be done to shake-up the team? One has to wonder if anything were to happen, would team captain and franchise leader Jarome Iginla be involved? Iginla scored his 500th goal this week and is tied for the team lead in points with 33.
This week, Iginla and the Flames will take on the Devils, Ducks and Kings.
- Ryan Miller, Buffalo SabresAnother player whose name has come up recently in rumors is Buffalo Sabres' netminder Ryan Miller. In 24 games this season, Miller is 10-11-2 with a 3.05 goals-against average, a .901 save percentage and one shutout. These numbers are all well below what Miller is used to putting up season in and season out.
This week, Miller and the Sabres will take on the Maple Leafs (twice) and Islanders.
Teams to Watch- Calgary FlamesAs mentioned above, the Calgary Flames are involved with many rumors because of their recent poor play. Last week, the Flames were crushed by the Boston Bruins by a score of 9-0. One of their players after the game said they played like a "minor league team" and that they did not belong on the ice with the Bruins.
This week, the Flames will take on the Devils, Ducks and Kings.
- Anaheim Ducks
Another Western Conference team that is struggling is the Anaheim Ducks. With the roster that the Ducks have, the team should not be 14th in the Western Conference with a 12-22-6 record. Even after the coaching change, the Ducks have continued to struggle and play very inconsistent hockey.
This week, the Ducks will take on the Stars, Flames, Oilers and Canucks.
Game of the WeekSaturday, January 14 -- Chicago @ DetroitIt feels like old-time hockey as the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings will face-off in a showdown between two of the top teams in the Western Conference and NHL. Both teams have offensive firepower, a solid defensive corps, and steady goaltending. It should be an absolute dandy in Motown.
Other Games to Keep an Eye onMonday, January 9Washington @ Los Angeles
Tuesday, January 10
Ottawa @ Pittsburgh
San Jose @ Minnesota
Wednesday, January 11
Pittsburgh @ Washington
Thursday, January 12
Montreal @ Boston
Vancouver @ St. Louis
Minnesota @ Chicago
Friday, January 13
Toronto @ Buffalo
Saturday, January 14
Chicago @ Detroit
New York Rangers @ Toronto
Ottawa @ Montreal
Sunday, January 15
San Jose @ Chicago

Photo credit: Getty Images
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