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NHL weekend preview: Back to reality

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OK, guys. 2014 is here. The Winter Classic has come and gone. Everybody enjoyed it, save for perhaps Wings fans like me because Detroit lost, but even I thought it was a pretty alright event even so. The Wings get points for winning the alumni games, right? Anyway, fun was had by all, except Bobby Ryan probably. However, now we must put away our outdoor hockey rinks and bands I've never heard of for now. We've got the rest of the season to play, and there is plenty of hockey this weekend. There are 12 games Saturday and five Sunday. Here are the best ones.

There are a couple of matinee games Saturday. Winnipeg visits Boston at 1:00, which I only mention because on Sunday they play in Boston at 1:00. The Jets are your brunch time cannon fodder this week out East. San Jose also plays Colorado early, which is a good game. The Rangers visit the Leafs, still riding high from their Winter Classic victory. Montreal faces Ottawa in a nice all-Canadian matchup. The Senators are still in this, with "this" being the playoff race.

Detroit faces Dallas, and that's a good one. Washington is in Minnesota, and the Wild need to start picking up more wins if they want to make the postseason. Speaking of teams on the outskirts of the playoff race, Philly takes on Phoenix. Somewhere, Ilya Bryzgalov will watch longingly. Then, the day ends with Vancouver facing Los Angeles, which is the best game of the day.

Sunday only has two games that really excite me. The Sharks face the Blackhawks, who got Corey Crawford back recently, and that's a great matchup. Then, Vancouver is in Anaheim. Having to visit the Kings and Ducks back-to-back? That's tough.

We're past the halfway point of the season. A lot of good action this week. It may not have the spectacle of hockey in a football stadium, but it's something. Enjoy the games.

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