Jan 182006
 

It’s a quiet night on the NHL schedule with just 3 games being played but they are all probably worth keeping an eye on.

Columbus/Detroit – You might think this is an easy Detroit win, and you are probably correct, but Columbus is playing much better hockey in recent weeks and have won 4 of their last 5 games. Nash and Federov have finally figured each others tendancies out and have played great playing together during this 5 game streak with Nash getting 4 goals and 9 points and Federov getting 2 goals and 9 points in those 5 games. and Vyborny has also scored 5 goals in 5 games. Detroit is still obviosuly the better team but Columbus might not be the pushover that they were for most of the season.

Minnesota/Toronto – Toronto is struggling with all their injuries, most importantly the groun injury to Bryan McCabe. The Leafs have lost 4 of their last 5 games. Minnesota has also lost 4 of 5 and is coming off a game against Ottawa in which they didn’t look to interested in working very hard, made several mistakes, and got soundly defeated 6-1. Both teams should be hungry for a win tonight. I think Toronto will be a bit more hungry and will come away with the win.

Dallas/Atlanta – This game will be a battle of Atlanta’s offense vs Dallas’s defense and goaltending. Dallas is listed as a Strong pick to win but I think it will be much closer than that. Atlanta has won 6 of 7 in January while Dallas had won 6 in a row before losing to Montreal on Monday. This will probably be a higher scoring but close game. Dallas will win 4-3.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Columbus Detroit Detroit Good
Minnesota Toronto Pick N/A
Dallas Atlanta Dallas Strong
Jan 172006
 

We’ve got 5 more games on the schedule tonight and the good news is that one of them is an important all-eastern conference game. Whoever came up with the idea to have all the inter-conference games played at the same time should be replaced because while some of them are interesting match-ups it is better to see some division and conference rivals match up.

The big game of the night is Carolina at Philadelphia. These are two of the better teams in the eastern conference and while they aren’t division rivals they are battling for playoff positioning. This should be an entertaining game and a close one. It is listed as a pick-em game and I will predict a Carolina 4-2 win.

In the inter-conference games New Jersey gets the honor of defeating St. Louis and we can all yawn as we watch the Islanders take on the Blackhawks (I’ll predict an Islanders win in this pick-em game). Toronto takes its injury riddled team to Colorado in what should be an interesting game but would have been more interesting had the Leafs been healthy. It’s likely the Leafs will be without top point produce Bryan McCabe and top goal scorer Darcy Tucker. The final game of the night sees an inconsistant Tampa team playing a somewhat struggling (lost 3 of 4) Los Angeles team. I think the Kings get back on track with a 5-2 win.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Philadelphia Carolina Pick N/A
St. Louis New Jersey New Jersey Some
Chicago NY Islanders Pick N/A
Colorado Toronto Colorado Some
Los Angeles Tampa Bay Los Angeles Good
Jan 162006
 

Since it is Monday let me update you on my prediction success rate.

Strong: 90 of 123, 73.2%
Good: 120 of 185, 64.9%
Some: 86 of 162, 53.1%

All those percentages are improvements over last week so I am happy about that.

Now, I did write up an analysis of several of tonights games but my web host had problems and I lost it. Rather than write it all up again I’ll summarize it.

Boston/Anaheim, Phoenix/Washington, Columbus/NY Rangers, and Vancouver blowing out the Penguins are probably not very interesting games to watch. Boston-Anaheim is a pick-em game and I’ll pick Boston to win.

Ottawa often struggles with good defensive teams with good goaltending so Minnesota might pose a challenge for them if the Wild can find a way to score 2 or 3 goals.

The most entertaining game of the night has to be the Edmonton Buffalo game. Both teams have lots of speed and skill up front and the game should be very fast paced because of that. The game is a pick-em game and I’ll predict a 4-3 Edmonton win.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Boston Anaheim Pick N/A
Phoenix Washington Phoenix Good
Columbus NY Rangers NY Rangers Some
Montreal Dallas Dallas Some
Pittsburgh Vancouver Vancouver Good
Minnesota Ottawa Ottawa Good
San Jose Tampa Bay San Jose Some
Edmonton Buffalo Pick N/A
Jan 152006
 

It was a bit of a crazy day in hockey yesterday with several very close games and a few huge blow outs including a 10-1 Buffalo romp over Los Angeles. We could see some more crazy games today as we see some really good teams playing some really bad teams. St. Louis, probably the worst team in the league, is matched up against Carolina, one of the better teams in the league. Carolina wins this easy. The struggling Penguins head to Nashville to be preyed upon by the Predators who should also win this game easily. The 3rd game today sees New Jersey visit Chicago. The game is listed as a pick-em but you really have to like the Devils to win this game. The Devils are starting to play like the Devils of old and have won 5 games in a row including three 3-0 wins in those five. The Blackhawks on the other hand are playing horrible and have gone 2-9-2 in their last 13 games with their only wins coming against equally bad Pittsburgh and Washington. Devils win this one easy. If want to take a day off from watching or following hockey then this would be a good day to do that.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Carolina St. Louis Carolina Strong
Chicago New Jersey Pick N/A
Nashville Pittsburgh Nashville Strong
Jan 142006
 

There are 10 games on the schedule tonight, all but one being inter-conference games. Potentially the most interesting game see Peter Forsberg face his old team the Colorado Avalanche. Both teams have pretty good offenses so the potential for a high scoring game is there. Philadelphia has the better defense and goaltending so they should win the game, as predicted.

The Detroit-NY Rangers game should also prove quite interesting. Detroit defeated the Flyers a couple days ago and look to knock off another quality eastern conference team. If I were putting money on this game I would bet on Detroit as well but the Rangers are certainly a good enough team to be give the Red Wings a good challenge.

In the match-up we have all been waiting for we have the Columbus Blue Jackets taking on the Florida Panthers. Ok, maybe we haven’t been waiting for this game but both teams have been playing better recently so it could be a hard fought game, but it likely won’t feature too many goals being scored.

Ottawa takes their game back on the road, this time to western Canada to play the Edmonton Oilers. Ottawa has struggled miserably in the past couple weeks and is just 2-4 in January. This is a pick-em game and I am picking the Oilers to win this one but only if they can get decent goaltending which is as inconsistant as pretty much anything in the NHL.

In the other 2 pick-em games I will take the Islanders over a struggling Vancouver team and Minnesota over a Calgary team which has lost 3 in a row.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Boston Dallas Dallas Good
Philadelphia Colorado Philadelphia Some
Detroit NY Rangers Detroit Good
Toronto Phoenix Toronto Good
Montreal San Jose Montreal Some
NY Islanders Vancouver Pick N/A
Buffalo Los Angeles Buffalo Some
Florida Columbus Florida Good
Minnesota Calgary Pick N/A
Edmonton Ottawa Pick N/A
Jan 132006
 

It’s Friday the 13 so I guess I will everyone good luck on this lucky, or not so lucky, day. We have 6 more iner-conference games today with the premier matchup probably being Nashville at Carolina. Both teams are ranked near the top of their respective conferences so this should be a good battle. I expect a fairly tight, and relatively low scoring game which could go either way but I’ll predict a Carolina 3-2 win.

One upset I could envision is Columbus beating Tampa. Carolina is 5-2-1 in their last 8 games and have been playing much better recently while Tampa has lost 2 in a row and struggled all season to find consistancy. A Columbus upset would not surprise me in this game.

In the battle of underperforming and mis-guided teams we see Pittsburgh in Chicago to play the Blackhawks. Let’s call this the battle of ineptitude. Chicago is the favourite to win this game and I have to agree with it.

In the pick-em game we see Vancouver playing New Jersey. Neither of these teams have been a beacon of consistancy this year but New Jersey has looked much better recently winning 4 games in a row including wins against Buffalo and Philadelphia. Vancouver has won 3 in a row as well so maybe both teams are getting back on track. I’ll take New Jersey to win this game on a good Brodeur performance.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Carolina Nashville Carolina Good
Atlanta St. Louis Atlanta Good
New Jersey Vancouver Pick N/A
Tampa Bay Columbus Tampa Bay Good
Chicago Pittsburgh Chicago Good
Anaheim Washington Anaheim Good
Jan 122006
 

We have 8 inter-conference games on the schedule which means no divisional or conference rivalries but we do have a few good games to watch.

NY Rangers/Edmonton – This could be a good fgame on the ice as I believe both teams are fairly evenly matched but I mostly wanted to point out this game because the Rangers are honoring Mark Messier tonight by retiring his number 11. The game is also a pick-em games so I’ll make a prediction of a Rangers 4-3 win.

Ottawa/San Jose – Ottawa is listed as the strong favourite but this game should be much closer than that. San Jose has been much better since acquiring Thornton and I am sure they will see this game as a test of how good they are. I think Ottawa will win but it will be a close game with Ottawa winning with better goaltending. Ottawa 5, San Jose 3.

Detroit/Philadelphia – Two Stanley Cup contenders match up in tonights game. Detroit is listed as the slight favourite, largely because Philadelphia played last night and it is tough to play on back to back nights. I like Detroit to win this game 3-2.

The only other pick-em game is Calgary at the NY Islanders. The Islanders are a pretty mediocre team but are in the midst of a shake-up (traded Niinimaa, possibly firing the coach) and that might incite the team to play better than expected. So, if the Islanders won it wouldn’t surprise me but I like Calgary to win a 3-1 game.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Boston Los Angeles Los Angeles Some
Buffalo Phoenix Buffalo Good
NY Islanders Calgary Pick N/A
NY Rangers Edmonton Pick N/A
Florida St. Louis Florida Good
Ottawa San Jose Ottawa Strong
Detroit Philadelphia Detroit Some
Dallas Washington Dallas Strong
Jan 112006
 

There aren’t too many significant changes in this weeks power rankings. Nashville was the big riser jumping from 9th to 5th while Los Angeles was the big dropper falling 3 spots from 4th to 7th. There were no changes in the top 3 teams or in the bottom 5 teams.

Rank Last Week Team Win-Loss Power Rank
1 1 Ottawa 29-12 15.0
2 2 Dallas 28-14 14.2
3 3 Carolina 28-14 13.8
4 6 Buffalo 27-15 12.5
5 9 Nashville 27-15 12.5
6 5 Calgary 25-18 12.4
7 4 Los Angeles 27-18 12.4
8 7 Detroit 28-15 12.4
9 8 Philadelphia 27-15 12.2
10 12 Vancouver 24-19 11.9
11 10 Toronto 24-19 11.6
12 11 Edmonton 24-19 11.5
13 13 Colorado 24-20 11.5
14 16 NY Rangers 24-19 10.5
15 17 Montreal 20-20 10.3
16 14 Phoenix 20-23 9.7
17 15 Tampa Bay 21-22 9.5
18 21 San Jose 19-21 9.4
19 19 Minnesota 20-23 9.4
20 18 Anaheim 19-23 9.3
21 20 NY Islanders 18-24 8.9
22 23 New Jersey 19-24 8.6
23 22 Atlanta 20-24 8.4
24 25 Boston 16-26 7.6
25 24 Florida 17-28 7.2
26 26 Washington 13-28 6.3
27 27 Chicago 14-28 6.1
28 28 Columbus 13-29 5.7
29 29 Pittsburgh 11-31 4.9
30 30 St. Louis 10-30 4.4
Jan 112006
 

Just 4 games on the schedule tonight, all inter-conference games. Last night we saw a battle of bad teams when Chicago squeeked out an overtime win over Washington. Tonight we get another exciting celler dweller matchup when the Pittsburgh Penguins face the Columbus Blue Jackets. Don’t we all love these interconference games?

There is one game which should be a pretty good game. That is Nashville visiting Atlanta. Nashville has been a solid team all year and while Atlanta started of playing real poorly they have picked it up recently and are proving to be a pretty good team and are now fighting for a palyoff spot. Because Nashville is playing on the road and on back to back nights I have to give Atlanta the edge in this game.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Atlanta Nashville Pick N/A
Columbus Pittsburgh Columbus Some
Chicago Philadelphia Philadelphia Good
Colorado Montreal Colorado Good

What's up ESPN?

 David Johnson, NHL  Comments Off
Jan 102006
 

ESPN.com has a mid-season awards poll that seems to be missing some of the most important candidates for a couple of the awards.

1. Vezina: Fernandez, Hasek, Legace, Lundqvist, Turco and Vokoun are all there. But whre is Kipprusoff? He has 22 wins, 2 more than any other goalie. He has 6 shutouts, 3 more than any other goalie. And he has the 5th best goals against average. He has to be on the list.

2. Calder: Their rookie of the year list contains Crosby, Ovechkin, Phaneuf, Prucha, Svatos and Vanek. All excellent choices. But why not Lundqvist who was good enough to be up for the best goalie, but not the best rookie. Makes no sense to me.

3. Jack Adams: Coaches Babcock, Hitchcock, Murray (Kings), Murray (Senators), Renney, Ruff and Trotz are all nominated, but no Laviolette. If Laviolette doesn’t deserve consideration for what he has done in Carolina, I don’t know who does.

4. The comeback player of the year list contains only Heatley, Jagr and Modano. What has Jagr come back from? A bout of laziness? How about guys who have truly come back from injuries like Jason Allison or Dominik Hasek.

ESPN obviously didn’t put a whole lot of thought into coming up with nominee lists. Now I know why I so rarely read ESPN.com now.