MapleTree Marty's dog Thunder

 

Filling in for Dale this week, I’ve enlisted the help of a four legged friend.  This is Thunder, a 5 year old Shepherd-Collie cross that will finally help us answer the question:  Are four legs better than two?? When it comes to making hockey picks anyways…. We have a busy schedule for Hockey Day in Canada, so let’s get started.

 


Pittsburgh Penguins @ Philadelphia Flyers


Pens new bench boss Dan Bylsma implemented a new run and gun style of play during Wednesday’s practice which has paid off immediate dividends, as long as you don’t own Marc Andre Fleury.  After Thursday’s game versus Montreal this is only the second time since Dec. 18th that the Pens have scored 5 or more goals in a game.  This season Pittsburgh is 3-1-0 vs. the Flyers, a nice turnaround from last season’s 3-5-0 record.  Philly is rolling right now having won 5 of their last 6 games.  Martin Biron didn’t fair well against the Pens when they played their tight defensive game, so the outcome of this game will depend on how many Fuhr-esque saves he can make to keep Philly in the game.  

 

Prediction: V
Thunder’s Pick: H

 

Chicago Blackhawks @ Dallas Stars


Chicago is 3-0 this season versus Dallas winning each game by a 3 goal margin.  2 of those 3 victories however were versus Stephan and Krahn in goal for Dallas, and Turco’s defeat in mid November had him still searching for his game.  Too many injuries for the Stars will once again help the Blackhawks prevail, however Turco’s stellar play as of late will help keep this much closer than previous affairs.

 

Prediction: V
Thunder’s Pick: V

 

Ottawa Senators @ Montreal Canadiens


The first game of CBC’s hockey day in Canada tripleheader showcases the Habs limping back to the Bell Centre with their pathetic 2-7-1 February record (3-11-1 in the past Calendar month).  The Sens on the other hand are a team on the rise recently, however have been unable to beat the Canadiens in 3 tries this year.  Luckily the Sens have won 5 of their last 6 meetings versus the Habs on a Saturday and 13 of the last 20.

 

Prediction: V
Thunder’s Pick: H

 

Phoenix Coyotes @ Los Angeles Kings


The Coyotes are 1-9-0 since a stretch in January where they won 5 of 7.  The Kings on the other hand have been hot lately, 8-2-2 in their last 12 has catapulted them to within 3 pts. of the Edmonton Oilers for the 8th and final playoff spot in the West.  The Kings have averaged 3.6 GF per game while the Coyotes have surrendered 3.9 goals per game.  

 


Prediction: H+
Thunder’s Pick: V

 


Atlanta Thrashers @ San Jose Sharks


The San Jose Sharks are 7-1-2 (2 ties) in their last 10 matchups versus the Thrashers outscoring them 37 to 18 in those games.  The Sharks are glad to return to the Shark Tank earlier this week where they boast a NHL best 24-2-3 home record.  Despite their recent offensive explosion versus the Ducks and Kings it appears as though the Thrashers have already used up all their GF on this west coast trip.

 

Prediction: H+
Thunder’s Pick: H

 

Anaheim Ducks @ Columbus Blue Jackets


A potential 4 pt. game as only 3 pts. separate these two teams in the Western Conference Standings.  The Ducks are reeling as they depart the Honda Centre dropping a couple of gimme’s vs. the Kings and Thrashers sees them heading on a 6 game road trip that will certainly dictate if they are buyers or sellers at the deadline.  The Ducks may have won 5 of the last 6 versus Columbus, but are 0-1 versus S. Mason.   Having dropped the last 4 back end of a back to back set, don’t expect the Ducks to have much left after battling the Wings the night before.

 

Prediction: H+
Thunder’s Pick: H

 

Boston Bruins @ Florida Panthers


The Bruins head into Florida sporting a 4-6 record in their last 10 meetings versus the Panthers.  Fortunately for B’s fans they are 2-0 this season and 3 of those 4 victories have come on the road.  Boston is 9-2 this year on the front end of B2B games including a 4-2 victory against Florida back on Nov. 21st.

 

Prediction: V
Thunder’s Pick: H

 

Vancouver Canucks @ Toronto Maple Leafs
The return of Mats Sundin to Toronto should bring lots of mixed reactions out of the fans at the ACC.  The Canucks have won all 3 matchups since the lockout including a 4-2 win out west on Nov. 15th.  The Canucks have won 12 of their last 16 versus the  Northeast Division since the lockout including all 4 this season.  I’ll take the underdogs to snap the streak.

 

Prediction: H
Thunder’s Pick: V

 

NY Rangers @ Buffalo Sabres


After sweeping the season series 4-0 last year the Rangers find themselves 0-2 so far this year.  Despite sporting the top PK unit in the league (87.2%) it’s the offence that has been really sputtering lately tallying only 15 GF in their last 9 games.  Remove their 5-4 win over WSH and that’s an ugly 10 GF  in 8 games, ouch!  Buffalo has still been able to score 14 GF in their last 5 games since losing their top goal scorer, Thomas Vanek, to a broken jaw.


Prediction: H
Thunder’s Pick: H


New Jersey Devils @ NY Islanders


The Devils have won the last 5 straight meetings between these two teams.  Zach Parise LOVES playing NY teams this year scoring 21 pts. in 9 games (10 in 4 vs. the Isles).  The NYI are the worst team in the league and are 1-7-1 in their last 9 Saturday games.

 

Prediction: V+
Thunder’s Pick: V

 

Detroit Red Wings @ Minnesota Wild


The Red Wings come into this contest having won 10 of their last 12 versus the Wild.  They’ve struggled lately on the back end of B2B scenerio’s losing 3 of their last 4.  Minnesota lost to the Wings last week in Detroit and the change of venue this time around will yield a similar result, however the Wild may salvage a point against one of the best teams in the league this decade.

 

Prediction: T
Thunder’s Pick: H

 

Nashville Predators @ St. Louis Blues


This is their 3rd meeting in 10 days with the first two being split and Nashville gaining an extra point.  Steve Sullivan has scored in back to back games but it may be a little premature to start announcing the full return of the “Timmins Tornado”.  St. Louis has won 4 out of 5 meetings this year and it is safe to say both teams are playing for next year.

 

Prediction: H
Thunder’s Pick: V

 

Calgary Flames @ Edmonton Oilers


Another installment of the battle of Alberta sees the Edmonton Oilers trying to win for the 6th time in 9 games.  The home team has won the last 2 in a series that has seen almost an even split over the past 20 contests (11-9 home).  The Flames have won 3 straight on the road heading into Rexall Place and seem to be playing more consistent hockey as of late.


Prediction: V
Thunder’s Pick: H

 


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