Notch is back again with his winners. Maybe his tips will help you with some tough decisions on your Saturday ticket.
NY Islanders at New Jersey 1:00 PM EST
Winners of their last 7 games, the Islanders have beaten the Devils all 5 times this year. This will be Long Islands 3rd game in 4 nights. In games that do not start in the 19th hour, the Islanders are a dismal 3-8 while the Devils are 7-4. Both teams are one game over .500 on Saturdays. New Jersey is making a charge up the Eastern Conference standings going 7-1-2 in their last 10. Parise and the Boys are well rested for this game after playing their last game on Wednesday.
New Jersey – H
Ottawa at Pittsburgh 3:00 PM EST
Martin Gerber will start in goal. These two offensive powerhouses have split the season series 1-1 with the visiting team winning both times. In the last 5 weeks of the season, the Senators have only one win against a current playoff team. Ottawa has also scored 3 goals or less in 13 of their last 18 games. Malkin has 49 of his 82 points at home this year, but struggles against Ottawa. This game is for 1st place in the Eastern Conference.
Ottawa – V+
Chicago at Los Angeles 4:00 PM EST
Chicago has in been in LA for 2 days waiting for this game and soaking up the sun. The season series is split at one game apiece. This will be only the 3rd afternoon game for the Blackhawks all year. They have played well in the first two early games losing to the Sharks in a shootout, before beating the Avalanche. The Kings are 4-2 in their 6 midday affairs. In February, the Kings have scored 33 goals in 10 games, but only have a record of 5-5. Los Angeles has 5 days off after this game.
Los Angeles – H
Washington at Carolina 5:00 PM EST
Washington is losing the season series 2 games to 3. In the five games they have played, the home team has won 4 of them. Only Carolina has won on the road. The first three games were one-sided affairs, but the last 2 have been decided by only one goal. Washington needs to win this one to pull within 2 points of the Southeast leading Hurricanes. Kolzig has a career record of 26-13-8 versus Carolina; meanwhile Ward has a 9-3 overall record over the Caps.
Washington – V
NY Rangers at Buffalo
Two of the hottest teams in the East will try to continue their push into the postseason. The Rangers put a stop to the Sabres hot streak last Saturday with a commanding 5-1 victory at MSG. They will try to do it again in Buffalo this time. New York has won both meetings this year with both wins coming in the aforementioned MSG. Lundqvist is 3-2 versus Buffalo in his career, and has a stingy 1.83 GAA. Miller is 5-2 lifetime against New York with a 2.85 GAA. This will be Buffalos’ 3rd game in 4 nights and comparing that with the Rangers 4 days off that they had; this may be the difference in the game.
NY Rangers – V
Atlanta at Toronto
Atlanta is 0-3 in HNIC contests over the last 3 years. Trade rumors may be taking their toll on Hossa and the Thrash as they have looked very uninspired in their last 2 losses overall. This will also be their 6th game in the last 10 days. Losing Andy Sutton on D is actually a big concern for the Thrashers. This will be the final game in the season series with Toronto winning 2 of the 3 so far. The visiting team has won all 3 so far. Toronto is 8-5-3 against the weak Southeast division teams. Toronto is well rested as always.
Toronto - H
Florida at Philadelphia
Florida has lost 2 of 3 this year to Philly after beating them all 4 times in 2006-07. Interestingly enough in 2005-06, the Flyers won all 4. Each season, momentum seems to swing. Florida continues to keep games close with their last 3 games being decided by only 1 goal. Both teams are struggling - but only Philadelphia has lost 9 in a row.
Philadelphia – H+
Columbus at Montreal
Columbus will look to leave Canada with a winning record having split the first 2 games in their 3 game Eastern Conference Canadian road trip. Ken Hitchcock challenged his team to play their best against Ottawa by walking out of a meeting he called, all he said was, “you guys figure this out”. Montreal needs to get a lead for once instead of having to manufacture these dramatic comebacks. They almost pulled it off again against Pittsburgh.
Montreal – H
Boston at Tampa Bay
Alex Auld will probably get the start after leading Boston to a nice comeback win over Florida on Thursday. Auld relieved Tim Thomas in the 3rd period and shut the door the rest of the way, eventually winning the shootout. The Bruins sit in 6th place in the East with fewer games played than anyone in the Conference. Tampa Bay has cooled off after a little hot streak and has now lost 3 in a row. The season series is sitting at 1 game apiece with the home team winning 4-1 both times.
Boston – V
Dallas at Nashville
Dallas is the hottest team in the league. However, they have lost both games to Nashville this year and have been outscored 6-1 in those 2 games. Turco has a 9-5-1 overall record against Nashville. The Stars will be playing their 3rd game in 4 nights and also back-to-back. The Predators have points in 10 of their last 12 games going 9-2-3 during that span. The last 4 games by Nashville have been decided by only one goal.
Nashville - H
Detroit at Vancouver
These teams are depleted on the back-end. Their systems are so good though, that we will still probably see a low scoring game. Luongo is 4-7-1 with a respectable 2.49 GAA (he was with Florida remember) against Detroit. The Wings have won all 3 games this year by the same 3-2 score against the Canucks. One of those games went to a shootout. This will be the second of back-to-back games for Detroit.
Detroit in a shootout - T