Originally written on Red Light District Hockey  |  Last updated 2/13/12

UNIONDALE, NY - NOVEMBER 27: Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins scores a first period goal against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on November 27, 2009 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Welcome to yet another installment of The Week Ahead. As per usual, we will give our "Three Stars of the Week", "Three Players to Keep an Eye on", "Two Teams to Watch", our "Game of the Week" and "Other Game to Keep an Eye On".

Three Stars of the Week 1) Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins Doesn't it seem like Pittsburgh Penguins' forward Evgeni Malkin is a star every week? It should not come as a surprise given that Malkin has been red-hot offensively. This past week, he picked up 8 points on 3 goals and five assists. The majority of those points came in a 5-point performance this past Saturday afternoon in an 8-5 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
2) Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes One of the main reasons why the Phoenix Coyotes currently find themselves in a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference is because of the play of their goaltender Mike Smith. Smith won four games this week, allowed just three goals, and picked up a shutout. Smith is now 23-14-7 on the season with a 2.33 goals against average, a .925 save percentage and 3 shutouts.
3) David Perron, St. Louis Blues The Blues won all four of their games this week, and Perron had a big hand in that. Perron scored six goals and added an assist. He had three points on Saturday against Colorado and scored twice in Ottawa, including the game-winner. He has returned to being an offensive threat ever since returning from his concussion.
Three Players to Keep an Eye On - Ryan Callahan, New York Rangers With the New York Rangers still sitting in first place in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference, it will be interesting to watch their team captain Ryan Callahan continue to work hard every night and produce.
This past week, "Captain Cally" picked-up four points on 4 goals. In Saturday's big tilt with the Philadelphia Flyers, Callahan came through with a hat trick in helping lead the Blueshirts to a 5-2 victory, their fifth straight win over their Atlantic Division rivals.
This week, Callahan and the Rangers will take on the Bruins, Blackhawks and Blue Jackets.
- Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks With the Chicago Blackhawks on a eight game losing streak, the team's starting goaltender, Corey Crawford, must find a way to play better.
In 39 games, Crawford is 18-14-5 with a 2.99 goals against average and a .898 save percentage. For a starting netminder, these numbers are below average and numbers that are hurting his hockey club.
Crawford and the Blackhawks will look to get back on track this week in games against the Predators, Rangers, Blue Jackets and Blues.
- Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins There is no doubting that Boston Bruins' goaltender Tim Thomas is having a great season on the ice for his hockey club.
However, it is off the ice where he is getting negative attention. While Thomas has the right to say whatever he wants, he is not a politician and should only be concentrating on stopping the puck.
This week, Thomas and the Bruins will take on the Rangers, Canadiens, Jets and Wild.
Two Teams to Watch - Chicago Blackhawks After being one of the top teams in both the Western Conference and Central Division, the Chicago Blackhawks are struggling in a big way right now.
The team has lost eight straight games. In the process, they have allowed 35 goals, scored just 15 and have looked lost out on the ice.
This week, the Blackhawks will take on the Predators, Rangers, Blue Jackets and Blues.
- Washington Capitals Believe it or not, there is a chance that the Washington Capitals might not make the playoffs this season.
The team is currently in a dog fight with the Florida Panthers to win the Southeast Division and thus far, the Panthers are winning that race. For a team that got off to a great start, has a lot more offensive firepower and even better goaltending, not making the playoffs would be extremely disappointing to the team and its fans.
This week, the Capitals will take on the Sharks, Panthers and Lightning.
Game of the Week Friday, February 17 -- Washington @ Florida When it comes to the NHL stretch run towards the Stanley Cup Playoffs, games within the division take on a new meaning. This Friday night, fans will get to see what that will be like as the Washington Capitals take on the Florida Panthers. These two teams are neck and neck for first place in the Southeast Division and will probably be that way up until the last wee of the regular season. Should be some great hockey.
Other Games to Keep an Eye On Monday, February 13 San Jose @ Washington
Phoenix @ Vancouver Tuesday, February 14 NY Rangers @ Boston
Chicago @ Nashville Wednesday, February 15 Boston @ Montreal Ottawa @ Florida Thursday, February 16 Chicago @ NY Rangers Phoenix @ Los Angeles Friday, February 17 Washington @ Florida Nashville @ Detroit Saturday, February 18 Pittsburgh @ Philadelphia Toronto @ Vancouver Sunday, February 19 San Jose @ Detroit St. Louis @ Chicago New Jersey @ Montreal

Photo credit: Getty Images
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