Montreal is on a roll and look for that to continue against Buffalo

Another winning week last week has us doing fairly well this season, and I’m sure I’ll look at the numbers a little more closely when time permits (perhaps this holiday season). Two kids at two and under sure keeps you busy, especially when they outnumber you two to one on occasion. Nonetheless, the hockey has been great this year, and I just think back to this time last year, when all we had was a bunch of posturing and the cancellation of more and more games. Let’s get onto the action:

*written before the conclusion of Friday’s games.


Flyers @ Stars

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool


The Flyers head into Dallas having won three of their last four games. Their last win was most impressive, coming out of Detroit with a 6-3 victory thanks to Sean Couturier’s first career four-point game, with two goals and two assists. The Flyers have been able to turn their season around as they now sit at 13-13-2 on the season, and only two points back of Washington for 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division. Despite a 13-9-5 start, the Stars find themselves eight points back of a playoff spot in the Central and managed points in their last five games, including three out of a possible four against the Blackhawks. The Flyers look much better defensively this season, and their defense has kept them in games, while the offense gets going as witnessed by their 13 first period goals against (T-4 in the NHL). Philadelphia is 2-1-1 against the Central Division this season, while the Stars have only won four games at home this season. I’m sure that’s no surprise since they’ve managed only one power play goal on 37 opportunities at home.


Pick: V (Flyers win)


Jets @ Lightning

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool


The Jets have won three out of their first five games on this Eastern Conference road trip as the West continues to flex its muscles versus the East. The Jets starting strong and were able to outscore the state of New York/New Jersey 11-5. Winnipeg probably wish they were still in the Eastern Conference as they’re in sixth place in the Central Division which has every team at least .500 or better on the year. Bryan Little continues to breakout this season with 27 points, leading the way, despite the Jets having issues starting games on time as evidenced by their scoring breakdown by periods. The Jets have scored 19, 24, and 32 goals in the first, second, and third period respectively. The Lightning continue to tread water without Steven Stamkos, going 5-5-1 since they lost their star center. His absence has slowed St. Louis’ production to ten points over that span, which is slightly deceiving in terms of his consistency as much of that production came in the way of two 3-pt games. The Bolts have been shutout in three of their last six games. Tampa Bay joins Colorado, St. Louis, and Columbus as the only teams who have failed to win when trailing after one period of play.


Pick: V (Jets win)


Maple Leafs @ Senators

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool


The Leafs have lost five of six, while surrendering 24 goals in that span on 228 shots. The Maple Leafs have outshot their opponents in just three games all season long. They have been outshot by 291 shots in their first 29 games this season. They are tied for fourth in the league in shooting percentage at 10.0%, and the Bernier/Reimer tandem has been successful in posting a combined .929 save percentage (also 4th in the NHL). Their 3rd ranked power play overall, is only ranked 19th on the road as they make the trip up to the nation’s capital. The Leafs lead the league in giveaways, but play a significantly more conservative game on the road (2.1 giveaway to takeaway ratio at home versus 1.1 on the road). The Senators are 11-14-4 on the season, but have been dominant in their own division going 7-2-1. Erik Karlsson has continued to put points on the board as he’s now taken over the team scoring lead with 27 points this season. This should be a hard hitting (both teams are in the top 3 in the NHL in hits), and chippy (both team are near the top formost penalized, the Leafs lead the league with 23 major penalties) which is perfect for Saturday night.


Pick: H (Senators win)


Sabres @ Canadiens

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool


Despite only six wins on the season, the Sabres managed to win in San Jose, at home versus Los Angeles, and taken two games from the Maple Leafs in the month of November. Every player who has played at least five games for the Sabres has a negative plus/minus this season except for Luke Adam, led by Mike Weber’s -15 in 16 games played. Cody Hodgson leads the team in goals(8), assists(9), points(17), powerplay goals(4), and shots on goal (70). The only other player that has double digit point totals is Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis. The Canadiens are hot, going 9-1-1 in their last 11, and have jumped ahead of Boston for the division lead. They’ve been able to do it with defense as Carey Price and Peter Budaj have combined to post a 1.95 goals against average and .936 save percentage both ranked 2nd in the NHL. Second year forward Alex Galchenyuk is second in scoring among forwards with  19 points on the year and Tomas Plekanec leads the way with 20. The Sabres have only managed to score first in five games this year, and they lost all of those games.


Pick: H+ (Canadiens by two or more)


Panthers @ Red Wings

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool


The Panthers have had a rough season this year, but have managed to beat some quality opposition, as all four of their victories in November came against opponents with .500 or better records. Unfortunately for Florida, they haven’t adapted to their new division well as they have yet to beat a divisional opponent this year. Florida is 30th in the league with a .214 win percentage in one goal games this season. The Red Wings home record of 5-5-6 leaves a lot to be desired; however they are playing Florida after all. The usual suspects lead the way for the Wings, with Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Alffy, and Kronwall with 20+ points this season. Detroit’s 10-4-4 record versus the East has kept them ahead of Tampa and Toronto for third place in the Atlantic Division. The Wings power play is ranked 8th in the league, and they’re tied for 2nd with nine 5 on 3 opportunities while converting three.


Pick: H (Red Wings win)


Islanders @ Kings

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool


The Islanders have not fared well since trading for Thomas Vanek. Despite Vanek putting up nine points in his 13 games with the Islanders, the team has lost eight straight. The offense isn`t very well distributed, after Tavares (32 points), Okposo (26), Nielsen (23), the next closest Isles in scoring are Andrew MacDonald and Josh Bailey at 11 and 10 points respectively. The defense on Long Island has been the issue, as the team has combined for a 3.21 goals against average and a .891 save percentage which are ranked 28th and 29th in the league respectively. The Islanders are also ranked dead last in the league in penalty killing overall and on the road. The Kings haven’t lost a step with Ben Scrivens taking over in net for the injured Jonathan Quick. The Kings have picked up points in nine of their last ten games which has allowed them to pull within a point of the 2nd place Ducks in the Pacific Division. The East versus West dominance is quite prevalent this season, as every team in the west is .500 or better against the Atlantic Division, and only two teams are below .500 versus the Metropolitan Division. The last time these two met the Kings scored three in the third period to pull out a 3-2 victory on Long Island.

Pick: H (Kings win)

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