Notch is back again with his winners. Maybe his tips will help you with some tough decisions on your Saturday ticket.
Detroit at Ottawa
Last season on January 12th, this game was pegged as the Stanley Cup Finals preview game. It turned out to be a very good game that Ottawa won 3-2 on the strength of Alfredsson’s two powerplay goals. After that game, Ottawa fell apart and barely squeaked into the playoffs. Back to this season, Detroit is coming off an embarrassing home-opening loss to Toronto and will be looking to get back on track. Ottawa is a solid team this year, but will be without their Captain Alfie and workhorse Mike Fisher for this game.
Detroit - V
Montreal at Toronto
Never ceases to amaze me, but Toronto will once again face a team that played the night before and also get to play against another #2 goalie in Halak. Toronto played a solid trap game against Detroit to steal 2 points from the defending Stanley Cup Champions on the North American opening night and will have to do the same to have a chance against the speedy Canadians.
Montreal – V
St. Louis at NY Islanders
This is the Blues first game and the Islanders second as they played last night in the Swamp. St. Louis does have a dynamic offense that will be fun to watch in a couple years. They were clicking in preseason and I am going to say the Isles won’t be able to slow it down. Long Island kept a lot of games close last year and that is what I expect in this one. West beats the East.
St. Louis – V
NY Rangers at Philadelphia
Lundqvist is looking good – 2 games only 2 goals allowed. Granted it was against a patchwork Tampa Bay squad in the Czech Republic, but it still impressive. Philadelphia will be playing in their season opener and their crazy fans will be expecting big things this year. Count on the Rangers to come out of the gates slow and Philly the opposite. Don’t underestimate how hard it was for New York to play in Europe to start the season and then play back to back in USA.
Philadelphia – H+
Chicago at Washington
This will be back to back games for both teams. These teams are exciting to watch and full of energy. Chicago has playoff aspirations this year and will have to match the intensity that the Capitals bring under Jack Adams winner Bruce Boudreau. Ovechkin may be slowed in this game due to lingering groin tightness and the 2nd game in 2 nights.
Chicago – V
Atlanta at Florida
This will be back to back games for both teams. Atlanta has made some changes to their back end. Good thing because the Thrashers allowed the most shots on goal in the league last season. Kovalchuk still has nobody to play with and probably can’t wait to get out of Georgia. Florida has a new coach and also made improvements to their back end. All signs point to a low scoring game. Florida had 37 games decided by only one goal last year.
Florida in a shootout – T
New Jersey at Pittsburgh
The Devils are playing for the second consecutive night. When will Brodeur start to slow down and will he become the all time wins leader in the NHL this season? This is a new Devils team or is it? Holik and Rolston are back to compliments the younger players in Parise and Zajac. Pittsburgh has their home opener after splitting the series in Sweden against Ottawa. The Pens did not look good and New Jersey will try to keep it that way.
New Jersey – V
Carolina at Tampa Bay
The Canes played last night. After watching their playoff hopes fade on the last night of the regular season last year in a loss to Florida (Washington won as well to win the division and be the only team to represent the Southeast), Carolina knows how important divisional games are. Injuries hampered them last year and it looks to be the same early on this year. Tampa has nearly the same team as last year…I’m kidding. They looked good in preseason, but were out of sorts in Czech Republic only mustering 2 goals in 2 games. Continue betting against the four teams that went to Europe.
Carolina – V
Dallas at Nashville
The Stars are a nasty team. Avery is the best at what he does, and I love it! Those who don’t like him have never had him on your favorite team or maybe just don’t like pushing boundaries. I do. Dallas’ blueline is a little banged up, but not as much as Nashville will be after this game.
Dallas – V
Boston at Minnesota
Boston’s offense looked good against a shaky Budaj in Colorado on Thursday. Bergeron is healthy – for now, and really rounds out an offense that plays well together. Minnesota will be playing their season opener in front of another sellout. Gaborik will become a distraction on this team as it is clear he does not want to play for Lemaire anymore. For now, Gaborik will prove a point and light up the scoreboard. West beats the East.
Minnesota – H+
Columbus at Phoenix
This will be a good game. Hits, fights, goals and big saves that is why I will be watching this game. Columbus played last night against Dallas and I have to assume they are sore. The Blue Jackets made lots of changes to their team and Hitchcock usually has his team ready to start the season. The Coyotes traded for Olli Jokinen and he should fit in well with the young players in Phoenix. This will be the season opener in Arizona and I think the kids will be flying.
Phoenix - H
Los Angeles at San Jose
This is the season opener for LA. I think they may want a pass on this game. San Jose was all over Anaheim on Thursday when you look at the Sharks team, you don’t see too many weak spots. I can’t say the same about the Kings.
San Jose – H+
Vancouver at Calgary
6-0 Huh? That was the score on Thursday night in Vancouver. Kipper was horrible and in the last 4 seasons, he has progressively gotten worse. Here are his save % numbers: .933 in ’04, .923 in ’06, .917 in ’07 and .906 in ’08. Vancouver was way to fast for Calgary and that is not going to change this game.
Vancouver - V
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Detroit - V
Philadelphia – H+
San Jose – H+