Anthony Lancione shares his thoughts on Saturday's best NHL matchups.
Good day poolies! After another strong slate of selections in my last column, I’m now at a 15-3 record in my past 3 Saturday six-packs! I hope you’ve been following my lead and padding your pockets a little to boot. This week, I hope for more of the same as we ride the hot streak into April.
Stats as of Friday morning
Winning % on the season= 72%
Previous Week Record= 4-2!
NY Islanders @ Pittsburgh (1:00pm ET)
By the Numbers – Frozen Pools
The much anticipated debut of Jarome Iginla in Pittsburgh, donning a different NHL jersey for the first time in 16 years, will certainly be the centre of attraction this evening (Update:Providing Canadian Immigration offices process the necessary paperwork on time given the Easter holiday closures).
The future Hall-of-Famer will join the NHL’s deepest offensive juggernaut (sorry Hawks fans), although where in the Pens lineup he will be situated immediately remains to be seen. Bylsma’s embarrassment of riches offers him a few options on how to divvy the lines. At some point Iggy and Sid will be linked together, but don’t expect it just yet as long as the winning streak is alive. Malkin will look to build on his decent return performance from injury and get back to prime game shape, while Fleury’s status is still a mystery. Make sure to check in with www.goaliepost.com for the latest. The Islanders have little to no chance here. Go for some extra juice with the pens to win by more than one.
Pittsburgh - Home Win Plus– H+(ProLine)
Carolina @ Winnipeg (3:00pm ET)
The Jets have certainly been one of the Cinderella teams of the 2013, leading the mediocre Southeast division when next to nobody thought it was a possibility. Although the streaking Capitals may yet make a run for the division, it really emphasizes the importance of this divisional matchup, where all the pressure is on the struggling Carolina Hurricanes who playoff hopes are slipping away with seven straight losses. Evander Kane is coming off a massive four point outing, becoming a real fan favourite for his multifaceted game in hockey-mad Winnipeg. One of the loudest buildings in the league, the ‘Canes will have a stiff test in front of them to focus on. Times have been tough for Carolina with subpar goaltending for the most part in Cam Ward’s absence, although their offense can really do damage on a moment’s notice. This should be a tight affair, but I’m going with the Raleigh boys to end the futility streak.
Carolina - Visitor Win– V(ProLine)
Washington @ Buffalo (7:00pm ET)
By the Numbers – Frozen Pools
The Capitals have been playing much more inspired of late, taking four W’s in their past six contests on the back of Alexander the Great’s return to form. He’s in the midst of a six game scoring streak where he managed six goals and four helpers. The Sabres also have been picking up steam (slowly), garnering points in four of their past five matches.
The smart money is to ride the Capitals resurgence, as they have the regular season pedigree that Buffalo has lacked in recent years. Playoffs are another story for Washington, but let’s focus on one thing at a time.
Washington – Visitor Win – V(ProLine)
Toronto @ Ottawa (7:00pm ET)
By the Numbers – Frozen Pools
The Ottawa Senators have inarguably been the most surprising story of all this season. The Sens were devastated by the losses of reigning Norris trophy winner, Erik Karlsson, star forward Jason Spezza, and Vezina leading candidate, Craig Anderson. Despite all this, former Red Wings assistant coach, Paul MacLean has really done a number with this lineup keeping them in the top five in the East virtually all season, and reeling off their second straight three game win streak, with a close 2-1 divisional loss to Boston in between.
In fact, they’ve only lost once in regulation the entire month of March! Meanwhile the Maple Leafs own a two games to one advantage in the season series and have also been streaking, having won four of their past six games and earning points in each of their last seven. The sea of blue travelling down the 401 for this one is surely making its presence felt in Tim Hortons pit stops across Ontario today!
Toronto – Visiting Team Win – V(ProLine)
NY Rangers @ Montreal (7:00pm ET)
The Canadiens return home to the Bell Centre faithful riding sky high after their epic roller coaster victory over the Boston Bruins Wednesday night to retake the division lead, behind the heroics of teen, Brendan Gallagher. Their month on the whole has also been impressive recording points in 10 of 13. The Rangers, on the other hand have been extremely inconsistent all season long, with four winning or losing streaks over the past four weeks alone. Surprisingly the likes of Rick Nash, Brad Richards and sniper, Marian Gaborik have not lit the lamp nearly as much as expected, scoring a pitiful 13 goals as a team in 9 games over the past 3 weeks!. However, the slide has got to stop sometime for the Broadway Blueshirts, no? I’m taking the Rangers to begin yet another inconsistent winning streak.
New York Rangers – Visiting Team Win- V(ProLine)
Phoenix @ San Jose (10:30pm ET)
The Sharks are starting to look like the team that begun the season on an absolutely torrid pace, having put together back to back shutouts, in front of the stellar netminding of Anti Niemi, who now has not allowed a goal in 121:40 of play. They are on a three game winning streak themselves, and have took four of their last five matches. However, the Sharks fantastic shutdown game this week will be faced with a stark contrast, in a Coyotes squad who lit the lamp for an incredible five times by the 8 min and 30 second mark versus a normally defensive minded Predators squad last game. They extended that impressive run to 7 goals by the two minute mark of the second period, before cruising the rest of the way. These sorts of scoring outbursts can be contagious. I look forward to what this one will bring!
San Jose – Home Win – H(ProLine)