The picks are coming a little early this week as I'm heading down to watch the Wild – Avs game Friday night, which means I have to drop my dogs off at my in-laws Thursday evening. Thunder (the brown/black mutt) isn't feeling so well, so her sister Caribou (black lab) has been called up on an emergency one game basis from juniors. The best part about the trip down to St. Paul is making my wife (a beloved Leafs fan) wear my Nordiques jersey! Although the highlight of the weekend for me will be the hockey game, for my wife it'll probably be a visit to IKEA the following day… Anyways, let's hope to some fortunate bounces to start 2011 off on the right foot!
Pittsburgh @ Boston
The Bruins went into Pittsburgh and managed to put seven goals up on the scoreboard. It is very unlikely for the Pens to return the favour this time around. With questions still surrounding Sid the Kid, everyone is looking to Malkin to carry the team on his back as was the case a few years ago when Crosby was out with his high ankle sprain. Their game on Wednesday against the Habs saw the Pens pop home 4 PPG and they were lead by a committee of Staal-Letang-Goligoski. The law of averages should kick in on Saturday. Thomas is 7-4-3 in his career versus the Pens, including a .918 SV% over his past 10 starts. The only player to score at a ppg pace versus the Pens is veteran Mark Recchi with 13 points in his last 12 games. The only thing the Pens and B's have in common is that their backup goalies sport similar .927 SV%, no wonder these two teams are having success this season.
Caribou's Pick: H
New Jersey @ Florida
Lemaire has gone 2-7 since taking over. The Panthers, meanwhile, are coming off of a terrific special teams performance versus the Caps. They scored times with the man advantage and held the Caps to a big goose egg on six opportunities. The Devils have the worst offense in the league combined with the worst team SV%. The only time Brodeur has ever finished his career with a GAA over 2.50 (excluding 91-92 where he only made 4 appearances) was in 05-06 with all the bloated goal scoring due to the new rule changes. His GAA is currently 3.05. He's also never had a sub .900 SV% season (same exclusion), but currently sits at .887. Is it time to stick a fork in him?? Despite the Devils' defensive troubles this should be a low scoring affair as the highest GAA for any of the goalies vs. the other team is 2.34 (Hedberg). The De