It’s Hockey Day in Canada today which means the only reason couch potato Canadians will have to leave their couches in front of the TV is to get the beer, meet the pizza delivery guy at the door and relieve himself at regular time intervals (length of time interval depends on beer intake). The afternoon hockey game features Ottawa at Montreal, an excellent team struggling through some serious injury woes vs a middle of the road team just plain struggling. According to my prediction algorithm Ottawa is a bit (“some”) of a favourite over Montreal and that is probably a fair assessment. They should win this game but with their injuries if Montreal puts a good game together they could also upset Ottawa.
The evening game sees Toronto visiting Edmonton with Edmonton also being a slight favourite. Toronto is coming off a hard fought loss last night to Calgary which featured excellent goaltending by both Belfour and Kipprusoff. One has to wonder if Pat Quinn will come back with Belfour in back to back nights or play Tellqvist. Tellqvist has played very well this year so it amy not matter. For Edmonton, the question is always about goaltending. If they get solid goaltending they seem to be good enough to beat anyone but more often than not this year, their losses can frequently be blamed on inconsistant goaltending. Edmonton should defeat a tired and injured Toronto team, but only if their goaltending can play up to par.
In the late night game the Calgary Flames visit the struggling, but mroe rested, Vancouver Canucks. While the key to Edmonton’s failures is goaltending, the same can frequently be said about the Canucks and surely the key to Calgary’s success is goaltending. Kipprusoff has 6 shutouts this year, twice as many as any other goalie. For Vancouver Dan Cloutier is injured for most or all of the rest of the season and Alex Auld has been good on some days and mediocre on others. They’ll need solid goaltending to win tonight. Vancouver squeeked out a 3-2 win over the lowly Blackhawks the other day but that isn’t really enough to say they have broken out of their slump. They need to defeat a top team to say that and tonight might be their game. The game is one of those too close to call games but I’ll go out on a limb and predict a Vancouver win.
For those Americans out there there are a few more interesting games to keep an eye on. One is the battle of two struggling teams, Tampa at Boston. Tampa is trying desperately to hold on to one of the final playoff spots in the east while Boston would just love to string together a few wins together to get back in the playoff hunt. The game is a “pick-em” game but if trends mean anything, this game will go Tampa’s way. In their last 9 games they have won-lost-won-lost-won-lost-won-lost-won which means the next game in the sequence is a loss. That’s good enough for me, take Tampa to win this game.
The New York Rangers, who have struggled a bit recently with 3 overtime losses in a row and 4-2-3 record in their last 9 games play a surging Florida team which despite a lost and an overtime loss in their last 2 games has a 7-3-2 record in their last 12 games. This is largely due to the much improved play of goalie Roberto Luongo. As I have said a million times, goaltending is always key and if Luongo is hot this game will go Florida’s way despite the Rangers being listed as “good” favourites.
The final pick-em game of the night features a rematch of last nights high scoring Atlanta-Pittsburgh game. In that game Atlanta came out flying to build a 5-0 lead after 2 periods only to see Pittsburgh come back with 4 goals in the third, including 3 PP goals, to make the game close. Atlanta held on and added an empty net goal to gain the 6-4 win. You can bet tonight that Atlanta won’t take their foot off the gas pedal in the third period and you can bet even more that Pittsburgh will try even harder not to get down by 5 goals. This should be an entertaining game to watch but I think Atlanta will one again get the win.
|Home Team||Road Team||Predicted Winner||Confidence|
|NY Rangers||Florida||NY Rangers||Good|
|San Jose||Los Angeles||Los Angeles||Some|