My debut picks for the 2009/10 season went better than expected. It is always tough to gauge a team by their preseason results (see Vancouver). For my first week selections, I went with coaching matchups with a lot of my picks as well as goalies that seemed to be in midseason form (see Miller). My record for the first week was 7-4. Within those seven wins, I got two plus (+) predictions correct to hopefully increase your payouts if you wagered some of your hard earned cash.
Now two full weeks into the season, I can now base my predicted outcomes on a lot more than the first week. There are no afternoon games this Saturday for some reason.
Atlanta at Buffalo 7:00 PM EDT
Both teams picked up wins less than 24 hours ago. Atlanta was in New Jersey and handled the dreadful Devils easily with their newfound team speed. Buffalo was at home and took care of the Islanders. The Thrashers won all four games last season against the Sabres by a total of four goals. The goaltending matchup looks to be Hedberg versus Miller. Buffalo will try to remain the only team not to lose in regulation this season, and at the same time look to finish perfect on their mini three game homestand. The key to this game may be the shots on goal. Buffalo fires 37.4 shots per game at the opposition which is the most in the league. Atlanta gives up the 4th most shots on goal per game. Can Hedberg handle 40+ shots in his first game action this season?
Buffalo – Home Win – H (ProLine)
New York Rangers at Toronto 7:00 PM EDT
If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball. Maybe Toronto goalies should have been trying to get in the way of flying objects instead of dodging them.
Rangers by 2 or more – Visitor plus Win – V+ (ProLine)
Ottawa at Montreal 7:00 PM EDT
Kovalev returns to Montreal. Ottawa is coming off their most dominant performance of the season - a 7-1 victory over the slightly-improved Lightning. The Sens are finally getting used to not being a one-line team any more. Alfie leads the team in points with seven in six games. Can anyone guess who is 2nd on the team? Jarkko Ruutu. He has five points in six games. The Sens have 16 players with two or more points; that is good for 3rd in the league. Edmonton has the most players (19) with two or more points, followed by Calgary (18) and then the Sens. Montreal has lost four in a row. When did Markov get hurt again? When these teams face each other, things are usually high scoring. 40 goals were scored in their 6 meetings last year. Both teams are much different this year so I am not sure what to think of that stat now. Leclaire versus Price in the twine.
Ottawa – Visitor Win – V (ProLine)
Carolina at New Jersey 7:00 PM EDT
Carolina sat in their hotel room last night and watched how the Thrashers beat the Devils with their speed and tenacity. Look for the Hurricanes to try and match that game plan tonight. Cam Ward seemed to love playing the Devils last year as he stymied them in the playoffs and had regular season numbers of a 1.67 GAA, .951 SV% in his three starts (all wins). New Jersey is winless in three tries at home this young season and will look to Yann Danis instead of Brodeur. Danis has only faced Carolina once in his career and was yanked after one period – letting in three goals on 10 shots.
Carolina – Visitor Win – V (ProLine)
San Jose at New York Islanders 7:00 PM EDT
The Sharks are a tough team to try a figure out. The individual talent is still there, but it really hasn’t meshed for them as a team yet. From top to bottom, consistency just isn’t there in the early stages of this season. Penalties have a way of doing that to you. The Sharks take the 4th most penalties per game. For the Islanders, Tavares is heating up. He had seven shots on goal last night against Buffalo and missed a couple glorious chances when the net was vacant. He really is finding the open areas around the crease. One angle I am looking at for this game is Dany Heatley. Heatley and the Sens were winless last season against the Islanders and a lot of it was due to the fact the Dany just won’t compete. With the relentless Islanders you can’t let your guard down. I am picking the Islanders to get their first win of the season. I am playing a hunch. It may go to a shootout, but I will take the straight win.
New York Islanders – Home Win – H (ProLine)
Nashville at Washington 7:00 PM EDT
Nashville comes into this game scoring 1.17 goals per game. That is not too good considering Ovechkin is almost at that pace by himself. The Predators also have terrible special teams. Their powerplay clicks only 5.5 % of the time and their PK can only stop the opposition at a rate of 66%. Not good in this matchup. Ellis will get the start against Varlamov as Theodore has some back spasms to deal with right now. I can’t see a total reversal of trends at this point in the season.
Washington by 2 or more – Home plus Win – H+ (Proline)
Colorado at Detroit 7:00 PM EDT
Is Colorado for real? This is a good test as Detroit hasn’t really been themselves either. If things continue as they are this season and also play out like last years matchups between these two teams, Colorado should walk away with the win. The Avs beat the Wings in three of the four games last year and now have one of the hottest goalies in the league this season. Datsyuk will be out for the second straight game. Everything points to Colorado, but something needs to be said about the fact that the Wings still have their pride and will want to bounce back from a blowout loss to the Sabres last game. Anderson versus Osgood.
Detroit – Home Win – H
Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh 7:30 PM EDT
I want to take the Lightning in this game. I really do. Coming off an embarrassing loss to the Sens, a major shakeup with the line combinations and the Penguins playing their first game at home in awhile, I like the Bolts in this game. For those that haven’t heard of the “honey do list”, here it is for you. When NHL teams have a road trip of four or more game, their first game back at home usually doesn’t go well. They get comfortable and have a list of things to do from their significant others. The focus just isn’t there. Home team records since 2006 in the first game after a road trip of four or more is 23-41-9. I can’t take the Lightning though. Niittymaki versus Fleury
Pittsburgh – Home Win – H
Minnesota at Vancouver 10:00 PM EDT
Yikes. These are two struggling teams. Will the score be 1-0 or 2-1? The list of injuries to both teams is pretty distinguished. Havlat, Bouchard, Sykora and Clutterbuck for the Wild. Sedin, Demitra, Salo and Schneider for the Canucks. Backstrom will be in net for the Wild after sitting last game and Luongo will look to have his first good game of the year. Two good goalies with not much offense. Take the under if you can, but since I have to pick a winner I will go with…
Vancouver – Home Win – H