Tuukka Rask is poised to get back on track and lead the Bruins to a win in San Jose

Happy New Year to everyone! Last week I thought it was my turn, so I wrote an article and submitted it, however Anthony had beaten me to it. Oh well, it was unfortunate as I had the Avs, Flyers, Canes, Wings, and Blues by two all winners. The Capitals fell apart in Minnesota as my only blemish. Go figure, they’ve failed to win a game yet at the Xcel Energy Center. This week we have some more dandies as I ride a few more teams from last week, which hopefully doesn’t come back to bite me in the butt. Here we go:

*Written before Friday’s games

Lightning @ Flyers

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool

This game will feature the two most prominent snubs on Team Canada’s Olympic roster as Claude Giroux faces off against Martin St. Louis. The Flyers recent hot stretch has vaulted them into 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division, as the team has won seven of their last eight games, and nine of their last 11. Offense has not been an issue as the team has scored three or more goals in 10 of those 11 games. Steve Mason has continued his terrific campaign going 18-10-4, with a 2.35 (0.06 off his career best) goals against average, and .922 (career best) save percentage. The Lightning have yet to score a goal in a matinee this season (zero goals in two games), and the team’s defence will be thoroughly tested with Ben Bishop on injured reserve.

Pick: H (Flyers win)

Blackhawks @ Canadiens

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool

The Hawks have only won two of their last six games, and despite picking up points in five of those matchups they’ve been leapfrogged by St. Louis for the Central Division lead. Patrick Sharp has 14 goals in his last 15 games, and is one of four Hawks (Kane, Toews, Keith) to have at least 40 points this season as the team is the second highest scoring squad in the league. Montreal has floundered lately as the 4th best defensive team in the league has allowed 21 goals in their last six games.

Pick: V (Blackhawks win)

Panthers @ Devils

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool

The Panthers have really been working hard as a team lately, and it has paid off as their 3-1-1 record in their last five games has gotten them to within seven points of a playoff spot. Of course, this is probably as close as the team is going to get all year, especially if their leading scorer is an 18-year old rookie, with only 22 points in 44 games. The Devils aren’t exactly the poster boys for offense either, as they’ve failed to score more than 3 goals in eight games straight, and in seven of those games they scored two or fewer goals. Jagr continues to put up the points, and it doesn’t seem to matter how old he is (35 points in 45 games). However, with only two assists in his last eight contests, things are slowly starting to dry up. Offseason acquisition Michael Ryder is also close to a 30-goal pace this season, and has accounted for five of the 14 goals in the teams’ recent eight game skid.

Pick: V (Panthers)

Avalanche @ Wild

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool

The Avs were headed into their final game of a seven game homestand on Friday, that saw the team at 4-1-1, with the only regulation loss coming to an egg the team laid against Calgary. Despite three injuries within their top six, the team is sixth in the league in scoring (seven of the top eight teams come from the Western Conference). After a 7-0 start backup goalie J.S. Giguere has been dreadful between the pipes, while potential Russian starting goalie Semyon Varlamov has strung together a 7-0-4 record in his last 11 starts with at least a .906 save percentage in each of those games. Nathan MacKinnon is finding his stride in the NHL as he’s been playing very well as of late. He’s tied for 2nd on the team with 14 goals, and leads the team in power-play goals (7), and game-winning goals (4). He has seven (five on the power-play) goals in his last eight games. The Wild are riding a four game win streak, and with their recent injuries, it has been the next man up mentality, as Justin Fontaine chipped in a hat trick Thursday night. The loss of Josh Harding due to illness may force veteran Backstrom to step up his game, but after already losing Zach Parise, and now center Mikko Koivu with a broken ankle. This next month before the Olympic break may decide Minnesota’s fate this season.

Pick: V (Avs win)

Penguins @ Flames

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool

I don’t mean to be cruel, but it’s the Pittsburgh Penguins and their offense is ranked 4th in the NHL while their defence ranks 8th. After scoring four times against the Avalanche the Flames have decided to go back to their scoring drought ways. Since Christmas the team has been shut out five times in seven games . That’s horrendous! As an Avs fan, I still ask, how did this team lose to the Flames?!?!

Pick: V+ (Pens by two or more)

Bruins @ Sharks

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool

The Bruins have stumbled on their three-game Pacific Coast road trip, and look to salvage some points before returning home late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. Tampa Bay (two points back), and Montreal (three points back) are nipping at their heels in the Altantic Division. The only other time Tuukka Rask was pulled from a hockey game where he was credited with the loss, he rebounded with four straight wins, which included two shutouts. Knowing a little something about troubles on the road, the San Jose Sharks are happy to be back on the West Coast as they’ve only won three of their last 10 road games. Unfortunately for Joe Thornton, the words of Lightning McQueen “I am SPEED”, do not apply as he was left off the Olympic team headed to Sochi next month despite a dominant season where he’s averaging over a point per game (first time since 2009-10), and an assist per game (only one other time in 2006-07 when some guy named Cheechoo scored 37 goals after a 56 goal season the year before). The Sharks are 16-1-3 at home this season, which isn’t even the best home record in the league; the Ducks are 18-0-2.

Pick: T (Bruins win in shootout)

Recently from Saturday Picks:


1 Saturday Picks - January 4, 2014 
2 Saturday Picks - December 14, 2013 
3 Saturday Picks - December 7, 2013 

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