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Now that teams have a few games under their belt, find out who Lancione likes in Week 2 of Saturday Picks.


It’s that time of the year again, where I put on my other hat and bring to you the best six plays of your Saturday night slate! The first week and a half of the season is now behind us, as well as many of the silly season-opening jitters, rust and downright head scratchers. We’re not exactly out of the wood just yet though, as there are surely a myriad of market corrections still to come.

Take for instance the NHL’s worst Calgary Flames, who through four contests, have yet to lose a game in regulation. The departures of Franchise cornerstones: Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff, the banishing of Alex Tanguay, Jay Bouwmeester and the injury to star player, Mike Cammalleri from an already dreadful squad was supposed to be the perfect recipe to cook up a #1 overall pick. However much to the chagrin of Brian Burke and Jay Feaster, Calgary now looks likely to win the division, the Flames are now likely to still finish 30th! Just give er’ sometime to balance out.

Now on to this weekend’s Six Pack!

(Column penned before Friday night’s games)

Boston @ Columbus (2:00pm ET)
By the Numbers – Frozen Pools


The return of Nathan Horton will have to be shelved for a future date. For the time being, the Bruins come into this affair with –guess what?—the Eastern Conference’s lowest goals against average in the early goings. With 2013-14 leading Vezina candidate, Tuukka Rask, closing the door, housing a 1.00 GAA and ridiculous .966% Save Percentage, the Bruins have been the NHL’s top defensive unit for several years running now. This season, the Beantown boys should have no problem defending that status once again. They now head out to Ohio for their first action outside of the home TD BankNorth Crowd this season. The Jackets now have some serious punch back in their lineup with Marian Gaborik finally filling the void left when Rick Nash Departed for Broadway. The talented Slovak veteran enters this affair with five points, a plus-2 rating and eleven shots on goal registered over his first three contests. But the victors will be Massachusetts finest.

Pick
Boston - Visitor Win– V (ProLine)

Philadelphia @ Detroit (7:00pm ET)

By the Numbers – Frozen Pools

The slow-out-of-the-gates Flyers cost Peter Laviolette his job before you could even blink an eye, before regrouping with new head honcho, Craig Berube. They move paid off immediate dividends with an impressive win over the panthers on Tuesday evening. The offensive core looks gun shy at this point, with only newcomer, Vincent Lecavalier, shaving off the rust immediately with a wonderful creation of a goal against Toronto on opening night. However, superstar, Claude Giroux, unfortunately has done nothing to suggest that he is, in fact, fully recovered from his off-season golf course horsing around freak accident. His broken finger is still evidently showing ill-effects as he remains pointless.

The Red Wings, meanwhile, have been fair-weather thus far, scoring with a balanced attack. All but five regulars have already gotten on the board, registering at least a point. No one has stood out as kick starting their season strongly. However, this is no doubt a cerebral squad once again, if no longer possessing the wheels they once had. The oldest team in the league certainly still has enough gusto to get the job done against almost any opponent. Jimmy Howard has been solid, with a 2.49 GAA and a .916% save percentage. Thanks to a responsible blueline, expect him to keep his Wings in it game in and game out, much like the crease ghosts of Red Wings’ past (ahem.. Mr. Osgood!)

Pick

Tie - T(ProLine) (Detroit to win in SOs)

Colorado @ Washington (7:00pm ET)
By the Numbers – Frozen Pools


The Avalanche have certainly turned many heads with the play of the young and offensively gifted club under the tutelage of robust and hot-tempered rookie coach, and Colorado legend, Patrick Roy. Surely enough, production will balance itself out, but the Avs, along with freshman sensation, Nate MacKinnon seem to be over-spilling with potential, and displaying that potential firsthand with each chance. The undefeated Avalanche, however, owe much of their early season dominance to starting netminder, Semyon Varlamov, who’s saved 88 of the first 91 shots faced thus far.

The Caps, mind you, have held their own offensively, yet are still just beginning to gel. Alexander the Great has been one of the hottest players in the league. With seven points in seven games, Ovechkin sits atop the scoring leader board, with arch-nemesis, Sid the Kid, nowhere to be found….just yet anyway. Look for Washington to be a legitimate threat to be the first to puncture a few holes in Mr. Roy’s seemingly impenetrable defensive wall.

Pick
Washington - Home Team Win - H(ProLine)

Buffalo @ Chicago (8:00pm ET)
By the Numbers – Frozen Pools

The Sabres have picked up right where they left off last spring.... in disappointment suite #1. Through their first five games, Buffalo surprisingly remains winless. Ryan Miller has been hot and cold, showing both signs of his former solid-as-a-rock self as well as of his more recent, lackluster self. Buffalo’s top performers though, Thomas Vanek and Cody Hodgson, haven’t skipped a beat, so it’s only a matter of time before the other linemates get into mid-season form. But in the interim, they should remain a bottom feeder for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, the defending Champs have been off on a run that is leaving much to be desired. They’ve been good to a point, but haven’t shown their offensive flair in bunches just yet. That being said, their suffocating defensive mantra has them sitting in 3rd place for least amounts of shots allowed, hence making life much easier for Corey Crawford


Pick
Chicago – Home Team Win- H(ProLine)

NY Islanders @ Nashville (8:00pm ET)
By the Numbers – Frozen Pools


The Predators looked downright awful in their last outing, host to the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs. Mind you, the blue and white have been off to an excellent start. However, that doesn’t excuse the void of creativity, aggression and general lack of chemistry evident throughout the Predators forwards group; from top to bottom. If not for Pekka Rinne, Nashville could quite easily fall into the bottom three in the NHL. A decent defensive unit has truly kept this team afloat, although highly touted rearguard, Seth Jones, is still quite raw and will need to spend a ton of time alongside Shea Weber to polish up and adapt his skillset for the NHL speed. The Islanders have shown pundits exactly what why they have been selected as one of this seasons movers and shakers. John Tavares has really taken this franchise on his back and has been leading them back to respectability. Brooklyn will be quite happy to receive this squad by the time it does, when they are ripe and ready to make a run.

Pick
NY Islanders – Visitor Team Win- V(ProLine)

Dallas @ Minnesota (8:00pm ET)
By the Numbers – Frozen Pools


With starting netminder, Niklas Backstrom, sitting in the press box, day-to-day, with no return date within reach, it’s a big problem for poolies on a very busy Saturday night, right? Who to start...Who to bench? Actually it’s not that big of a deal in reality. All you need to do folks, is to check in at www.goaliepost.com for your daily expected starters chart; updated on the fly by industry expert Justin Goldman. As you can see, backup, Josh Harding is once again slated to take the reins, with a firm rating (90-99% likelihood of accuracy). With Harding in the cage, Wild fans don’t have much to worry about, as he’s been stellar in relief thus far, sporting a 1.12 GAA and .943% save percentage in his two appearances to date. Parise has been Parise, while the rest of the talented Minnesota top six is bound to start producing soon and in bunches. On the other side of the rink, Dallas is off to a slow start, and I really don’t see them mounting much of a challenge. This team is still quite raw, and will be a while before they develop into even a playoff squad in all honesty. Ride the Wild tonight!

Pick
Minnesota – Home Win – H(ProLine)

(~~ Follow Anthony Lancione on Twitter @Anthisdaman)


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