The Devils should beat the Isles on Saturday, if they can avoid a shootout
We’re getting so close that you can almost taste it. Playoff hockey, a time of the year where every team cranks it up another notch, and the regular season games seem to pale in comparison. I’m going to keep this short and sweet, as I’m hopped up on some good pain meds after surgery on Thursday. So if some of these picks seem a little erratic, they seemed like great reasoning and logic at the time of writing. Hope everyone enjoys all the action on Saturday with 12 games on the schedule. Let’s get on to the action:
Sharks @ Avalanche
The last four games between these two teams have been decided by a single goal, with each team winning two apiece. Each of those four winners was the home team and the Avalanche boast the league’s best record in one-goal games this season at 25-4-6. The Avs join the Penguins and Blackhawks as the only teams with five 50 point scorers on the season, and if not for injuries to Alex Tanguay and PA Parenteau the number may have been at seven by the end of the year. Of those three teams only Colorado has all five of its players with 20 or more goals, talk about a balanced attack.
Pick: H (Avalanche win)
Blue Jackets @ Hurricanes
The teams have split the season series at two apiece up to this point, and despite Columbus holding a 7-3 edge over Carolina in their last 10 head-to-head matchups; it’s the Canes who have managed to win the last two meetings while outshooting Columbus 82-44. The Jackets are in the thick of it for one of the last Wild Card spots in the Eastern Conference, and Carolina is still mathematically alive but they will be playing the spoilers in this one. Carolina’s special teams have been stellar lately going 5-for-19 on the power play, and killing off all 16 shorthanded opportunities in their last five games. The Blue Jackets will also be playing a second straight night after taking on the division leading Penguins on Friday night.
Pick: H (Hurricanes win)
Lightning @ Sabres
The Sabres have scored the first goal of a hockey game in a league low 27 games this season, but even when they get on the board first they are the worst team in the league with a .333 win percentage. The Lightning on the other hand are trying to track down Montreal (two points ahead but have played two more games) for home ice advantage during the first round of the playoffs between those two teams (barring a monumental collapse). In a rare feat the last time these two teams met the Sabres not only beat the Lightning in Tampa by a score of 3-1 but also managed to outshoot the Bolts 44-21. Tampa Bay will be looking to return the favour, as they are currently rolling, having picked up points in each of their last 10 games, while Buffalo has managed one win in their last 11.
Pick: V (Lightning win)
Devils @ Islanders
Trading for Cory Schneider in the offseason hasn’t helped the Devils’ chances in the shootout this season, as the team has lost all nine games that have gone to a skills competition this year and 13 straight dating back to last year. Even worse is that the team has combined to go 1-for-28 this season (3.6%), which is beyond abysmal, the next lowest team is the Canucks with a 16% scoring rate (8 for 50). The Devils have won the last two games on Long Island by an 8-2 margin, and are 14-9-3 versus the Metropolitan Division this season while the Isles are a meager 8-15-3.
Pick: V+ (Devils win by two or more)
Wild @ Coyotes
Both teams are currently hanging onto the two Wild Card spots in the Western Conference, however both team have been trending in opposite directions as of late. The Wild have been skidding somewhat with a 3-4-3 record, while the Coyotes have gone 7-2-1 to pull themselves five points clear of both Vancouver and Dallas for the eighth and final playoff spot. The road team has won seven of the last nine matchups between these two teams. The style both of these teams play and with points extremely valuable this late in the season, this game seems destined to go beyond 60 minutes to ensure each squad gets a point. However, only two of their last 10 matchups have gone into extra time. The Coyotes are ranked 29th in win percentage (.294) in the NHL when they outshoot their opponents, compared to 6th ranked when being outshot (.639).
Pick: V (Wild win)
Jets @ Kings
The Kings are rolling just at the right time as they are currently on a five game winning streak that has seen them outscore their opponents 17-9. The Jets on the other hand are coming off a great effort in rallying from behind to beat the Sharks in San Jose, however it’s too little too late as they’re all but eliminated from the playoffs, sitting nine points back of 8th place Phoenix. The Kings won earlier this month in Winnipeg despite being outshot 41-18. This will be Winnipeg’s first visit to the Staples Center as the Jets.
Pick: H (Kings win)
Recently from Saturday Picks:
|Saturday Picks - March 22, 2014|
|Saturday Picks - March 15, 2014|
|Saturday Picks - March 8, 2014|
|Saturday Picks - March 1, 2014|