Dec 142005
 

Here are the game predictions for tonights NHL games. The most interesting game of the night features Dallas at Buffalo as two of the hottest teams in the NHL match up. Buffalo has won 11 of their last 13 games and Dallas has won 13 of their last 15 and my game prediction algorithm has the game as a pick-em. Don’t expect a high scoring game but the game will be close and both teams will fight for the win. I think Dallas is the better team though so I expect they will win.

The other pick-em game features Tampa at Anaheim. Tampa is another hot team having won 9 of their last 10 while Anaheim has played inconsistantly for most of the season. Take Tampa to win this game.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Buffalo Dallas Pick N/A
Anaheim Tampa Bay Pick N/A
Los Angeles Washington Los Angeles Strong
Dec 132005
 

Here are today’s game predictions. I don’t have much time for analysis this morning but Phoenix over Montreal is a n upset possibility and in the four pick-em games I’ll go with NY Rangers, Detroit, Edmonton and St. Louis.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
NY Islanders Minnesota NY Islanders Good
NY Rangers Vancouver Pick N/A
Carolina Chicago Carolina Good
Atlanta Detroit Pick N/A
Florida Nashville Nashville Good
Columbus Philadelphia Philadelphia Good
Montreal Phoenix Montreal Some
New Jersey Edmonton Pick N/A
St. Louis Pittsburgh Pick N/A
Dec 122005
 

“I think we’re really running out of time…We probably ran out of time already. It’s been unfortunate that the city and the county haven’t been willing to work with us over the last two or three years. … We’ll sit down with everybody and understand what’s at stake for our investment and what’s best for the franchise” –Mario Lemieux – December 10, 2005

“Today, our Board of Governors gave its unanimous approval to a Collective Bargaining Agreement that signals a new era for our League — an era of economic stability for our franchises, an era of heightened competitive balance for our players, an era of unparalleled excitement and entertainment for our fans.” –Gary Bettman – July 22, 2005

Dec 122005
 

Everyone seems to have an opinion on it and since I can be opinionated at times, I may as well give mine. This would be my choice for the Canadian Olympic team selection.

Gagne Sakic Iginla
Smyth Spezza Heatley
Richards Lecavalier St. Louis
Morrow Thornton Shanahan
Arnott

Niedermayer Jovanovski
Redden Pronger
Foote Regehr
Blake

Brodeur
Joseph
Turco

Notable Exceptions:
Eric Staal
Alex Tanguay
Paul Kariya
Marc Savard
Mark Recchi
Rick Nash
Glen Murray
Todd Bertuzzi
Patrick Marleau
McCabe
Phaneuf
Roberto Luongo

I am not convinced that all three Tampa players should make the team but I have a hard time picking which one should be left off and I think that Gretzky will take all three so I have decided to leave them on my list too. I had intended to take Luongo but he has played very poorly of late and Turco has been a solid goalie throughout his career and I think he deserves to be given the last spot. I also took Arnott as my extra forward over the others because I think he does more things well and is more versatile than say Tanguay, Kariya, Savard, etc. I took Spezza over Staal because of his chemistry with Heatley and because he is more of a pure playmaker and that is probably a better fit with the scoring wingers on the team. Shanahan is a guy who doesn’t get talked about all that much but he’s having a great year (17 goals), has Olympic experience (1998, 2002) and is a proven winner. With Yzerman and Lemieux not attending his experience and leadership will certainly help. Foote and Blake are also borderline picks but again, their experience is why I put them on the team over McCabe and Phaneuf. I don’t think McCabe will make the team but it would not surprise Phaneuf made the team over Blake or (more likely) Foote.

Dec 122005
 

Just 3 games on the schedule tonight but potentially a couple pretty entertaining ones. The most interesting will probably be Ottawa at Colorado, the top 2 scoring teams in the league. I would have probably predicted that Ottawa would break out of their mini-slump and win this game but word is that Spezza is going to miss this game due to injury and Redden won’t return either. That’s really going to hurt Ottawa offense which was already slumping. Luckily for the Senators they are playing a team who has had pretty inconsistant goaltending all year. If Colorado gets any kind of quality goaltending, they win. If they don’t, Ottawa wins. I’ll predict a Colorado 3-2 win.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Toronto Anaheim Toronto Some
Detroit Pittsburgh Detroit Strong
Colorado Ottawa Ottawa Some
Dec 112005
 

Four games on the schedule today, all inter-conference, none overly exciting. Atlanta-Chicago, while pretty much meaningless in the standings, has the most potential to be an entertaining hockey game as there is the potential for quite a few goals scored. It is also the only pick-em game of the day so it has the potential to be a close game as well. I think this, like pretty much every Atlanta game, comes down to goaltending. If Atlanta gets good, or even decent, goaltending, they will win. If they don’t, they won’t. I think they will win.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Atlanta Chicago Pick N/A
Boston Phoenix Phoenix Some
Columbus New Jersey New Jersey Some
Minnesota Buffalo Buffalo Some
Dec 102005
 

For the first time in, well, maybe ever, the Ottawa Senators aren’t a favourite to win their game as the Ottawa-Calgary game is classified as a pick-em by my forumula. This is going to be another very tough game for Ottawa as they are playing back to back nights on the road which is never easy, plus with overtime and the shootout the game went later than usual. Zdeno Chara played almost 33 minutes last night and one wonders how he is going to feel tonight, especially later in the game. Most importantly though is will the Ottawa Senators view the Canucks game as a wakeup call and play with more intensity and more disciplined and can Spezza and Heatley get back on track. I’ll take Calgary in another low scoring game.

I can’t say there is going to be a lot of other exciting games out there. Toronto-Dallas should be interesting as they are both pretty good teams but I really can’t get up for Los Angeles-Florida or Philadelphia-Minnesota. With Philadelphia missing Forsberg, Gagne, Primeau, Desjardins, and Pitkanen there isn’t going to be much offense in this game. We might have another 0-0 shootout tiebreaker on our hands. With Philadelphia’s injuries, a Minnesota upset is definitely a possible outcome.

In the two other pick-em games I’ll take Tampa to win on home ice and Edmonton to defeat the Islanders in New York.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Philadelphia Minnesota Philadelphia Good
Los Angeles Florida Los Angeles Strong
Toronto Dallas Dallas Some
Montreal Anaheim Montreal Good
NY Islanders Edmonton Pick N/A
Pittsburgh Colorado Colorado Some
Tampa Bay Nashville Pick N/A
St. Louis NY Rangers NY Rangers Good
Calgary Ottawa Pick N/A
San Jose Carolina Carolina Some
Dec 102005
 

Which of these numbers stands out from the rest?

17
13
6
6
9
12
9
9
13
11
7
22

I even made it easy for you. I put it last. Yes, the number 22 is substantially higher than any of the other numbers listed above. Those numbers above are the total number of power plays in games played on Thursday and Friday and the 22 represents the number of power plays in the Ottawa-Vancouver game. In what was one of the most anticipated games of this NHL season we saw the referees ruin the flow of the game by calling way too many penalties. It was a disgrace and what could have been an amazingly entertaining game turned out to be good, but nothing spectacular.

One could argue that all of the penalties call were legit and I would tend to agree, if you use the strictest rulebook around. But was it necessary to call so many penalties when half of them had no significant impact on the play (220 pound guys should be able to shake off a love tap on the hip). I could possibly accept it if every game was called that strict, but none are. No other game in the past week featured more than 18 power plays. Was this game that much worse than every other game this past week? Certainly not. The last time there were 20+ power plays in the game was a November 26th Dallas-Nashville game with 21 power plays. Congrats referees, you managed to ruin what could have been one of the best games of the season.

As for the game itself, the better, more energetic and enthused team won so at least the penalties didn’t ruin that. But what is with Alfredsson, Spezza and Heatley? They were absent from the score sheet once again. In Ottawa’s last 5 games Alfredsson and Spezza have both been held pointless in 3 of them and Heatley in 2 of them. In games against Florida and Vancouver Spezza has had 0 points, 0 shots on goal and is a -2. Heatley has 1 assist, 2 shots on goal and is also a -2. Ottawa has been held to 27 or fewer shots just 5 times this year, 4 of those in their last 5 games. The lack of production from Alfredsson-Spezza-Heatley has been the main reasonf or that. Have teams figured out how to play them? I think so. Vancouver just didn’t give them any open space to roam or make plays within 20 feet from the goal and. The Spezza cross ice pass to Heatley for a one-timer slapshot, usually into an open net, that was so deadly for most of the first 20 games of the season has been pretty much taken away in recent games. We’ll have to see if they can make the adjustment and start shooting from further out rather than try to make the fancy play in close all the time. If they do it should draw the defenders out and once again open up space close in to make the fancy plays. If they don’t, well, they will likely continue to struggle.

Dec 092005
 

Four games on schedule tonight with the creme of the crop clearly being Ottawa at Vancouver. Here we see two of the better teams in the NHL face off, both able to score, and both with a good set of defensemen. The difference is obviosuly goaltending. Ottawa’s has been solid while Vancouver’s has been inconsistant. Should Vancouver get good goaltending tonight this is going to be a difficult game for Ottawa and it should be fun to see if they can get off to a good start on this road trip as it doesn’t get any easier as the visit Calgary tomorrow.

Not too much interesting happening in the other games. In the pick-em game I have to go with Colorado. New Jersey is just too inconsistant. They have been pretty mediocre on defense much of the year and if you aren’t responsible defensively Colorado’s offense will rip you apart.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Washington Detroit Detroit Good
Atlanta Columbus Atlanta Good
New Jersey Colorado Pick N/A
Vancouver Ottawa Ottawa Some
Dec 082005
 

Eight more inter-conference games on the schedule tonight, but unlike some people who have complained about there not being enough inter-conference games, I have a hard time getting too excited about most of tonights games. Is Anaheim at Buffalo really that interesting? What about St. Louis at Tampa or Florida at San Jose? Edmonton at Philly is somewhat interesting and the Rangers at Nashville has some intrigue because they are both playing fairly well but I can’t say there are any ‘must see’ games on the schedule tonight. Why? Mostly because none of the games mean much in the standings. There are no battles for playoff positions or division titles. If there is one thing the NHL needs to do next season is to not play all these inter-conference games at once. Wouldn’t a Toronto-Ottawa or Edmonton-Calgary game really stand out on a night like tonight?

Now on to the predictions. In the pick-em game I’ll take Minnesota over Pittsburgh.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Buffalo Anaheim Buffalo Good
Philadelphia Edmonton Philadelphia Some
Columbus NY Islanders NY Islanders Good
Pittsburgh Minnesota Pick N/A
Tampa Bay St. Louis Tampa Bay Strong
Nashville NY Rangers Nashville Good
Los Angeles Carolina Los Angeles Some
San Jose Florida San Jose Good