It’s great to be back for another year. I’ve spent most of the summer trying to drink away the sorrow of receiving a beat down last season from my four legged counterpart. Hopefully Thunder gets distracted with all the snow we’re getting today. It’s time to start fresh with a case of beer for all of the Saturday night action, and let’s hope I still have a prayer after the 7pm starts!
New York Islanders @ Boston Bruins
Last year the Bruins had only six losses at home in regulation, while this year their opening homestand has gotten off to a slow start, as the B's have been outscored 10-2 in two home losses. The Islanders haven’t lost in regulation yet this year. Unfortunately that statement will be false as of 9:35 pm EST. Martin Biron on the Isles new competitiveness: "People might look at it as positive. It's a step, but it's not the step we want to take. The guys are not happy about losing. We all hate losing and that's a good sign." Wow, and I thought for sure the Isles loved losing based on their play last season. Look for the hatred to continue.
Marty’s Pick: BOS (H)
Thunder’s Pick: NYI (V)
New Jersey Devils @ Florida Panthers
The Panthers come home after splitting their series overseas with the Blackhawks and are welcomed home with three games in four nights (it’ll happen twice more in October alone). The Devils on the other hand, have gotten off to a slow start - perhaps readjusting to Lemaire’s system? They clawed their way to earn the two points in Tampa the other night on a Zajac goal with one second left. Zajac: “A couple of guys took a whack at it and somehow it came to me. I just kind of kicked it from my skate. It kind of bounced off my skate” … umm, sounds like a kicking motion to me! The home team took three out of four last year between these two teams. If the Panthers continue giving up 44 shots a game this is going to be a long season.
Marty’s Pick: NJ (V)
Thunder’s Pick: NJ (V)
Washington Capitals @ Detroit Red Wings
The Caps offense has been hard to stop this year, which is good since their defense/goaltending have been quite porous. The Wings have their own goaltending issues and perhaps if this game was in March we’d see Larsson facing off against Neuvirth. But it’s October and let’s not get too hasty. Osgood seemed to return to form against the Hawks and look for him to make the big save when it counts. Don’t worry poolies, AO, Semin, and Backstrom will still get two points apiece.
Marty’s Pick: DET (H)
Thunder’s Pick: WSH (V)
Pittsburgh Penguins @ Toronto Maple Leafs
Nothing but bad news for the Leafs to start the year - Toskala does not look like the goalie he was when arriving from San Jose, Gustavsson is on IR, and the defending Stanley Cup Champs are in town. Well, one thing the Leafs have going for them is three straight wins over the Pens looking back at last season. Oh wait, that was when lots of people had the Pens to possibly miss the playoffs under Therrien. The next day, enter Dan Bylsma and well the rest is history. Sorry Leafs fans… better make that 43 years, besides Taylor Hall would look much better centering that top line.
Marty’s Pick: PIT (V+)
Thunder’s Pick: PIT (V)
Atlanta Thrashers @ Ottawa Senators
Thrashers fans and poolies have a lot to smile about this season. It’s a young season, however Ilya Kovalchuk already has four goals. It only took him until Nov. 2nd to score 4 goals last season, so you can bank on 60 this year. So far, Leclaire is healthy and putting up some great numbers for the Sens (2.34 GAA, 0.918 SV%). This should be a close contest as the Sens were 22-12-7 at home last year, extra time will be necessary in this one.
Marty’s Pick: ATL (T, Shootout Win)
Thunder’s Pick: OTT (H)
Anaheim Ducks @ Philadelphia Flyers
A game in Philadelphia is perhaps the perfect situation for Ryan Getzlaf to end up with a Gordie Howe hat trick. The Flyers have gotten off to a great start, and Mike Richards has erased any doubt about his offseason shoulder surgeries with his offensive outburst. Despite Anaheim’s offensive explosion in Boston earlier this week, look for Philly to walk away with the win in this matchup. Both Carter and Richards have five points apiece in two home games this year.
Marty’s Pick: PHI (H)
Thunder’s Pick: PHI (H)
Carolina Hurricanes @ Tampa Bay Lightning
The Canes have won eight straight head to head meetings between these two teams, but have plummeted right out of the gate. Despite averaging a league high 7.7 PP chances per game, they only have four goals in three games. Lecavalier and St. Louis have 58 pts. in 61 GP and 51 pts. in 51 GP versus the Canes in their careers. I smell Vinny’s first multipoint game of the year.
Marty’s Pick: TB (H)
Thunder’s Pick: CAR (V)
Los Angeles Kings @ St. Louis Blues
It’s early but it looks like the Kings offence we have all been drooling over is finally here. The Kings won three out of four in last year’s head to head matchup. The Blues are coming off a bit of a disappointing effort in their home opener after running the table on the Red Wings in Stockholm. The Kings have given up 13 goals in their first three games and have a sub 40% PK rate. Those kind of defensive deficiencies won’t be beneficial against one of the top PP's in the league from last season.
Marty’s Pick: STL (H+)
Thunder’s Pick: LA (V)
Buffalo Sabres @ Nashville Predators
The Preds have won four of the last six meetings between these two teams, including a 2-0 victory in their only meeting last season. Nashville is ranked third in the NHL in home victories since the 04-05 lockout, averaging at least 23 home wins per season. Buffalo has been strong defensively, but has also had difficulties capitalizing on the PP. It only took one game for sophomore Patric Hornqvist to fit in on the top line in place of Dumont, as he debuted last game with a three-point effort. Ryan Miller boasts a 3.18 GAA and 0.888 SV% in his career vs. the Preds.
Marty’s Pick: NSH (H)
Thunder’s Pick: BUF (V)
Colorado Avalanche @ Chicago Blackhawks
Nothing personal against Cristobal Huet, but he appears to be slowly crumbling in the Windy City, as Niemi has the only win on the team in the first three games. Perhaps a game versus the Avs is all Huet needs to get back on track, as he sports a 2.31 GAA and .917 SV% in six games played against Colorado in his career. Despite being 2nd in the league on the penalty kill, the Avs have given up the 2nd most shots against/game at 37.3. Combined with Chicago’s league leading 40.7 shots on goal/game, and it looks like Craig Anderson will have his hands full.
Marty’s Pick: CHI (H)
Thunder’s Pick: COL (V)
Columbus Blue Jackets @ Phoenix Coyotes
I didn’t think it was possible for a player with so much promise to see his ice time drop from just over minutes per game to under eight, and finally to under seven. I think the Filatov situation may be even worse than the treament Radulov received in Nashville a couple of years ago. The Coyotes swept the season series last year, and have been playing better hockey under Dave Tippett. This may be a good time to start Garon (5-3-1 versus PHX 2.31 GAA compared to Mason’s 0-3, 3.07 GAA). It’ll be interesting to see how many turn out for the home opener in Glendale.
Marty’s Pick: CLB (V)
Thunder’s Pick: PHX (H)
Montreal Canadiens @ Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers have won six of their last seven games versus Montreal at home. Carey Price has a 4.94 GAA, .831 SV% against Edmonton in his young career. Yannick Weber is no Andrei Markov, and until the Habs are able to stop the bleeding look for Price’s stats to continue inflating. Denis Grebeshkov leads the Oil with four points this year. Look for that to change after Saturday night.
Marty’s Pick: EDM (H+)
Thunder’s Pick: MTL (V)
Minnesota Wild @ San Jose Sharks
These two teams split the season series last year. Nabokov has looked strong against the Wild, posting a 8-0-1 record with a 1.53 GAA since November 2006. He’ll need to continue that trend tonight to ease the worries of his fantasy owners. The Wild come in with a powerplay that has had a 46.3% conversion rate after three games, yet Brent Burns has only one assist to show for this season. All I can say about the Sharks is Dany Heatley. With JT feeding him passes look for a return to his 50-goal/100-point days.
Marty’s Pick: SJ (H)
Thunder’s Pick: SJ (H)