NHL schedule 2013: Fantastic Central Division meetings this week

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The top of the Central Division is separated by two points, which gives us some fantastic meetings this week.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals drew the focus of last week's schedule, as the two clubs jockeyed for positioning a top the Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh retained the top spot by collecting six out of eight potential points, while Washington managed only one of six. This gives the Penguins a four-point cushion over the Capitals entering this week.

Interestingly enough, the Metropolitan Division has become a bit more intriguing as the cellar dwellers are starting to find their stride. The New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers both began the season at horrid paces, struggling to find any semblance of offense. However, both clubs have found a scoring touch, which has helped them in the wins department. New Jersey collected four of six points last week and have gone 5-2-0 in their last seven. Philadelphia swept a three-game home stand and have gone 6-0-1 in their last seven, which included five games where the team registered four goals or more.

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In addition, the Carolina Hurricanes have registered points in seven of their last 10, while the New York Rangers the division's third place team have earned points in six games over the same span. The result is four teams separated by four points for the final playoff berth in the Metropolitan.

So much for a slow start hurting playoff chances.

Here's a look at the games you should consider watching this week:

Monday

Pittsburgh Penguins at Boston Bruins, 7 p.m. ET (RDS, ROOT, NESN)

It's a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Final and could be again this year. Both teams enter competition on Monday night as division leaders, which makes a desirable matchup all the more enticing. Boston is 7-1-2 in the last 10, while Pittsburgh is coming off a successful run last week.

Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues, 8 p.m. ET (TSN 2, NBCSN)

Central Division matchup between the surging Wild and the chic Blues. Not only is this division playing fantastic hockey, but the top-four teams are separated by two points! Minnesota is entering the game on a two-game win streak, while St. Louis have won three straight. Both clubs enter the night 8-1-1 in their last 10.

Tuesday

Anaheim Ducks at Dallas Stars, 8 p.m. ET (RDS 2, NBCSN)

It's the only game on Tuesday night, so if you wanna watch hockey you're gonna have to watch this one! Dallas dropped off last week after dominating through November, while Anaheim enters the week atop the Pacific Division but have the benefit of a few extra games played.

Wednesday

Philadelphia Flyers at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30 p.m. ET (NHLN, CSN-PH, SUN)

Vincent Lecavalier will return to Tampa Bay for the first time since being bought out by the Lightning this past summer. Lecavalier was selected with the first overall pick by the Lightning in the 1998 draft, won the Cup with the franchise in 2004 and acted as the team's captain in two separate stints (the most recent of which began in 2008 and carried through to his buyout). Lecavalier enters this week tied with Matt Read as the Flyers leading goal scorer with eight goals.

St. Louis Blues at Colorado Avalanche, 9 p.m. ET (FS-MW, ALT2)

Another Central Division matchup involving teams in the top-four. Colorado fell off a bit, which raised questions about their legitimacy. Well, little premature in that thinking: Colorado enters this week on a three-game winning streak that included wins over Chicago, Los Angeles and Phoenix. The last meeting between these two resulted in a 7-3 St. Louis victory.

Thursday

Vancouver Canucks at Ottawa Senators, 7:30 p.m. ET (RDS, NHLN, SNET-VAN/OTT)

Happy Thanksgiving to the United States! You get to celebrate with a two game schedule. The other game involves the Edmonton Oilers and Nashville Predators, so you might be better served checking out a preview of the Heritage Classic.

Friday

Colorado Avalanche at Minnesota Wild, 6 p.m. ET (ALT, FS-N/WI)

The theme has been set for this week, and it involves the Central. With several chances to watch meetings between these teams, what better way to cap off the week than a meeting between Colorado and Minnesota?

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