thunder

 

So much for making up ground last week!  Despite my best efforts, and a few games not ending soon enough and one game in particular ending a couple minutes early, I find myself licking my paws going 6-7 last week, while Thunder victorious again picked eight winners, including her first tie of the year between the Caps and Canes.  Seriously, Maggie the monkey, you’d better watchout. Thunder’s .553 winning percentage would have her ranked seventh place in the Western Conference right now ahead of the Edmonton Oilers, and just behind Columbus.  My winning percentage, well, let’s not go there right now… light schedule for a Saturday night with only eight matchups so let’s get to it:

 


    
Dallas Stars @ San Jose Sharks
In Dallas’ busiest month of the season, with 16 games, the Stars are so far 4-5-1 and barely hanging onto playoff contention.  The Stars haven’t beaten Nabokov since the playoffs last year, losing 4 times this year, their only victory coming against Boucher.  The Sharks have won 7 of 11 front end games in head to head situations and Nabokov is 25-2-2 at home this year.  Gotta love that winning percentage.

Prediction: H
Thunder’s Pick: H

Washington Capitals @ Carolina Hurricanes
The Caps have won 5 of the last 7 head to head matchups between these two teams, including last Saturday’s 5-4 OT win at home.  The Caps have won 5 of their last 6, with 4 of those wins coming on the road.  However, the Canes will come out strong as they have won 9 of 12 games on the back end of back to back situations outscoring opponents 42-28.  Ward has lost 4 of his last 5 versus the Caps allowing 17 GA.  Look for the Caps to squeak this one out yet again.

Prediction: V
Thunder’s Pick: H

Toronto Maple Leafs @ Montreal Canadiens
Winless in their last 4 and only 2-4-2 in March the Habs are reeling despite their coaching change earlier in the month.  The Leafs have won 6 of the last 9 H2H matchups on Saturday night.  The Leafs have lost 3 of the last 4 matchups in the month of March, perhaps indicative of the Habs gearing up for a playoff run while the Leafs are preoccupied getting their golf clubs out of the basement.  Another year, and not much has changed again.

Prediction: H+
Thunder’s Pick: H
 
Buffalo Sabres @ NY Rangers
The Sabres are hitting a bump in the road at 1-3-1 in their last 5 games being outscored 20-13 in that span.  The Sabres will try to sweep the season series at MSG this Saturday night, but they will encounter a team that’s headed in the other direction winning 6 of their last 8 games.  The Rangers have averaged 3.5 GF/game over that stretch, a much improved offense to the 2.6 GF/game they average on the season.  Both teams are facing back-to-back situations this weekend, where the Sabres have only 3 wins in 13 attempts on the back end, while the Rangers are winners in 8 of 14 games on the front end.  This matchups showcases the league’s 3rd best road PP versus the 2nd best home PK.

Prediction: T
Thunder’s Pick: V

NY Islanders @ Ottawa Senators
Since the lockout the Islanders had lost there first 8 against the Sens, but have won 5 of the last 7 including all 3 games this year, which all happened to be played in November.  The Sens are a much different team now than they were done, as they continue their tear on the league posting a 7-2 record in March, being held to less than 3 GF in only one of those contests.  Despite holding the league’s worst road record it didn’t stop the Isles from walking into Chicago and stealing one from the Blackhawks last Sunday.  The Sens have won 5 straight when heading into the first game of a back-to-back.  At the end of the day, I still can’t bring myself to bet on the Islanders!  Tavares to Long Island??? Ouch.

Prediction: H+
Thunder’s Pick: V

Columbus Blue Jackets @ Florida Panthers
These teams have only faced each other 7 times in their existence with the edge going to the Panthers.  No team has been able to win 2 or more in a row, however the road team has won the last 2.  Based on that pattern it’s Columbus’ turn to put a W.  The Blue Jackets have won their last 5 games versus Southeast Division opponents and 8 of their last 10.  Entrenched currently in a playoff spot the Jackets continue to win, winning 6 of 8 overall.  Antoine Vermette looks like a natural fit in the system with 7 pts. +4, and a GWG in 6 games since his trade.

Prediction: V
Thunder’s Pick: H

Atlanta Thrashers @ Tampa Bay Lightning
The Thrashers had their season high 6 game win streak snapped earlier this week and may be busy licking their wounds after the Red Wings come into town on Friday night.  The Thrashers have won 8 of the last 10 meetings between these two teams, but the season series has been split 2 apiece this year.  Atlanta has not done well historically on the back end of back-to-back games winning only 5 of 20 dating back a calendar year.  Atlanta is the 2nd highest scoring team on the road this year 1 goal back of Detroit.

Prediction: T
Thunder’s Pick: H

Vancouver Canucks @ Phoenix Coyotes
A matchup of two teams that couldn’t possibly be more opposite.  Vancouver is the HOTTEST team in the league right now going 16-3-1 in their last 20 games (the Pens are 14-3-3), finding themselves only 3 pts. back of the Flames for top spot in the Northwest Division.  11 of those 16 wins have been by 2 goals or more including all 7 wins in March.  Vancouver has won 13 of their last 18 meetings versus the Coyotes and Luongo holds a 4-1 record versus Bryzgalov.   The Coyotes have only managed 2 wins in their last 11 games overall, although to their credit those two wins were against two of the best teams in the league (Boston and San Jose).  During their hot run Vancouver’s secondary scoring has stepped up to the plate as Kesler  (24 in 20) and Burrows (18 in 20) have outproduced the Sedin twins (20 in 20 each).  That’s a lot of bang for your buck especially when you can have those two for a third of the price!

Prediction: V+
Thunder’s Pick: H

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