Anze Kopitar USA Today

 

Marty Kwiaton gives his thoughts on some of Saturday's key matchups in the NHL.

 

After muffing the first two games on Saturday two weeks ago, the rest of the picks went my way to give us four winners the rest of the way, bringing me back up to 50% (finally). Anthony came back down to earth a little last week picking “only” four winners but was bang on in the Jets shootout victory over the Leafs. Let’s get right to it as the NHL continues to fill the schedule with early games on Saturday.

 

 

Lightning @ Senators

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool

 

The Sens continue to put up points without their top players in the line-up as everyone from top to bottom is buying into the system. Heading into action on Saturday the Sens are 6-1-1 in their last 8 games at home with only 11 goals allowed during that span. With an assist Thursday night Gonchar was able to extend his pt. streak to nine games (14 pts), the longest current active streak in the league. The Bolts meanwhile continue their trip through Canada after losing not only the game in Toronto but starting goalie Anders Lindback indefinitely. Tampa Bay is 28th in the league with a .133 winning percentage when they allow the first goal, only Nashville and Florida are worse.

 

My Pick: H

Thunder’s Pick: H

 

Canucks @ Kings

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool

 

The Los Angeles Kings continue to do a lot of their damage at home posting a 12-3-1 record. They were riding a five game home winning streak outscoring opponents 21-7, until they ran into Kari Lehtonen Thursday night. To bounce back into the win column they will look to jump on the Canucks early as they’re 12-1-1 when scoring first. The Canucks have been struggling on the road lately going 2-3-1 in their last six, being outscored 20-11. Luongo has a 3.91 GAA in his last three road starts, and the team’s powerplay has really struggled managing a lowly 1/14 during a recent home stand. A change of venue may not be enough to give them a spark.

 

My Pick: H

Thunder’s Pick: V

 

Sabres @ Canadiens

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool

 

Perhaps a fire sale for the Sabres is coming soon, but in the meantime the league’s worst power play finally lit the lamp Thursday night against the Leafs after going 1/27 in their last six home games. That kind of special teams play isn’t going to cut it against the Eastern Conference leading Montreal Canadiens who have gone 14-1-4 since that Saturday night thrashing at the hands of the Leafs (how many more times are we going to hear this statistic?). They’ve outscored opponents 27-14 in the first period this year, and have score 25 goals in their last seven games.

 

My Pick: H+

Thunder’s Pick: V

 

Bruins @ Maple Leafs

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool

 

Ahhh the Bruins face the Leafs again, looking for their ninth straight victory between these two sides. They managed to snap a three game road losing streak Thursday night in Ottawa and continue to boast the league’s top PK at 92.2%. Phil Kessel has managed to extend his point streak to six games with 10 points as the Leafs, however the team is only 1-3-3 in their last seven games and this home and home with the Bruins is huge. They continue to hold a three point edge over the teams chasing them for a playoff spot, but that picture could look much different come Tuesday morning.

 

My Pick: V

Thunder’s Pick: V

 

Avalanche @ Stars

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool

 

These two future division rivals look to build on Wednesday’s chippy and feisty game that saw the Stars blow 2-0 and 3-2 leads en route to losing 4-3 in regulation. Some borderline plays from players on both sides should ensure that this will be an entertaining affair no matter what happens. Jagr has notched four points in two games against the Avalanche this season. Both teams have been reeling as the Stars are 1-4-1 in their last six games being outscored 22-10, while managing only two goals on 25 power play chances. The Avs snapped a four game win streak after knocking off the Hawks and Sharks but their defence is just atrocious at the moment, as they’ve allowed 23 goals in their last five games. That’s what happens when your line-up is full of 5/6 defencemen and Erik Johnson. So when a kid is finally playing arguably as the teams’ best defenceman (with Johnson out), you send him down (this would be Tyson Barrie). Bravo, way to go Avs management.

 

Oh, and Varlamov has yet to win on the road this season, that has to end at some point right? Nope, we want Seth Jones!

 

My Pick: T (Stars win in the shootout)

Thunder’s Pick: V

 

Blues @ Oilers

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool


FrozenPool

 

After dropping five straight to start the month of March it seems as though the Oilers are going to make an effort to try and battle for a playoff spot as they’ve picked up points in their last five games (3-0-2). Sam Gagner has been carrying the load with 28 points in 29 games this season while RNH continues to plod through his sophomore slump with only 11 points, and two goals (both against the Avs). The Oilers have lost four straight against the Blues and Dubnyk has failed to register a point for the Oilers in seven starts against them with an awful 4.72 goals against average. I’m not sure which is more shocking, the fact that Chris Stewart is leading the Blues with 28 points this season almost equalling his output from last season (while playing 50 fewer games), or the fact he’s tied for 2nd on the team amongst forwards with a +2 (Chris Porter has a +4 in 11 games). St. Louis has the 2nd best road power play in the league.

 

My Pick: V

Thunder’s Pick: H


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Comments (2)add comment

Shoeless said:

Shoeless
Wow! Wonderfully written Marty.
March 23, 2013
Votes: +0

TwoPuckCanuck said:

TwoPuckCanuck
The Forgotten Few What about the San Jose vs Minnesota game?!
March 22, 2013
Votes: +0
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