Game Predictions – 3/16/2006
After a light NHL schedule last night we have a near full NHL schedule tonight with 10 games set to be played. Here are some thoughts on each game.
Ottawa-Boston – Ottawa and Boston have played 6 games so far this year with Ottawa winning the first 3 games and Boston winning the last 3. But Boston has lost 6 in a row and 11 of 13 so Ottawa, who has been playing pretty good hockey lately, should win this one fairly easily. The only playoff impact is on Ottawa’s battle for first in the conference and division with Carolina and Buffalo.
Buffalo-Toronto – Toronto continues its playoff push against a team which it has always had trouble with. Toronto is 1-3 against Buffalo so far this year and with 4 games left against the Sabres they need to get several points in those games. Problem is, Buffalo might be playing their best hockey of the season having won 7 in a row (thourh mostly against weaker teams) and now being fairly healthy with Briere back in the lineup.
NY Rangers-Washington – Despite the Rangers being strong favourites, I would not be surprised if Washington came away with the win. The Rangers aren’t playing good hockey, have lost 7 in a row and Jagr is fighting some nagging injuries. But they did play a good game (44 shots) in a loss to Carolina on Tuesday so maybe that is a sign they are about to break their slump.
Atlanta-NY Islanders – This game has a hugh impact on the eastern conference playoff race as the Islanders and Thrashers are both within striking distance of the struggling Tampa team and catching either Montreal or New Jersey isn’t completely out of the question either. The problem for the Islanders is they keep losing quality players and I don’t know how long they can keep their good play going. After trading away Parrish, Sopel, Lukowich and Kvasha they have now lost Zhitnik to injury for the rest of the season. That is 3 of their top defensemen gone in the past week. That’s going to be tough to overcome. I like Atlanta in this game.
Montreal-Carolina – Montreal has a tough game against the Hurricanes and Huet will have to be at his best if they want to win. Carolina shifted Doug Weight back to center against the Rangers on Tuesday and it paid immediate dividends as Weight scored 2 goals and added an assist. If Weight starts to contribute the way he can the Hurricanes will be one scary team to play against. I like the Hurricanes to win this game.
New Jersey-Pittsburgh – The Devils have been inconsistant of late and have lost their last 2 games to the Penguins and Islanders by a combined score of 12-3. They get their chance to seek revenge on the Penguins tonight and being at home I think they will do just that. I like the Devils to win this game. Their schedule gets a bit tougher the next couple weeks so a loss could be a costly one and put their playoff position back in play for all the teams chasing the final few spots in the east.
Nashville-Phoenix – This game has very little playoff impact. Phoenix is out of the playoff race and Nashville has no hope of catching the Red Wings for top spot in the Central division. The only playoff significance is for the Predators who hope to hold on to the 4th seed in the west.
Edmonton-Calgary – Here is one of the top rivalries in the league and while Edmonton is in a serious battle for the final few playoff spots in the west, catching Calgary for top spot in the Northwest division isn’t out of the question either as the Oilers trial the Flames by just 5 points. That’s how close things are in the western Conference. I think Calgary is the better team, but the Oilers are playing at home. This game could go either way as is often the case with rivalry games.
Los Angeles-Dallas – This game doesn’t mean too much to Dallas as they are fairly solidly in first spot in the division and second seed in the conference. But it means a ton to the Kings who are in a battle for a playoff spot. They currently sit in 6th spot 3 points ahead of 9th place Anaheim but Anaheim has 3 games in hand and 10th place San Jose is just 6 points back with 4 games in hand. Dallas is clearly the better team but the fact that the Kings are fighting for their playoff lives means that they could pull an upset. I wouldn’t bet on it though. I like Dallas in this game.
San Jose-St. Louis – St. Louis has been playing much better recently but a significant reason for that has been the good play from goaltender Curtis Sanford. Problem is, Sanford injuried his MCL and is out for the rest of the season. San Jose should win this one easily and continue their playoff push.
|Home Team||Road Team||Predicted Winner||Confidence|
|NY Rangers||Washington||NY Rangers||Strong|
|New Jersey||Pittsburgh||New Jersey||Strong|
|San Jose||St. Louis||San Jose||Strong|