Picking the six teams most likely to win on Saturday night.
Another NHL season is finally here and what a start it has been thus far. The fantasy hockey world is buzzing with discussion with so many surprises: The unbelievable performances by Auston Matthews and Patrick Laine, the concussion news of Sidney Crosby, and the unexpected 4-0 start for the Vancouver Canucks to name a few. Tonight I will analyze six games and predict a result for all you sports wagering junkies. Without further ado lets dive in.
Record: 0 – 0
Both of these teams have come out of the gates stumbling having each lost three of their first four games. Bad goaltending seems to be a common theme for both squads as neither team can identify a true number one net minder. However, I like the Flyers here for a few reasons. First, the Flyers at home are tough to beat. Second, the return of Brayden Schenn is a huge plus for the Flyers as he is clinical on the man advantage. Third, this will be the fifth consecutive game for the Hurricanes on the road and I suspect they miss their home cooking. Take the Flyers here with Schenn having an impact at some point in this game.
Key Stat: Home team is 7-2 in the last 9 meetings.
Pick: Philadelphia – Home Team Win – H
The Wild head into this game riding a three-game winning streak and over that span they have managed to score a whopping 13 times. This boggles my mind to be honest because when looking at their lineup I really don’t know where the goals can possibly come from. However, one of those games came against non-other than Jeff Zatkoff who did his best impersonation of a pasta strainer and the other two against the Leafs and Jets who both have their issues of keeping the puck out of the net. That being said I think the Devils will pose a difficult task for the Wild as Cory Schneider has been nothing short of brilliant to start the season. Additionally, the Devils tend to play much better at home than on the road which should give them the slight edge here. In what should be a low scoring affair give me the Devils.
Key Stat: Wild are 1-7-1 in the last 9 meetings in New Jersey.
Pick: New Jersey – Home Team Win – H
Both of these teams currently sit atop of the Atlantic Division much in part due to strong goaltending. I really like the Canadiens this season and project them to win the Atlantic behind a health Carey Price. However, the Bruins also look quite strong as Tuukka Rask has shown glimpses of the old Tuukka we know and love with a 1.68 GAA and .947 SV% to start the season. This could easily be the game to watch tonight as this rivalry is known to always bring entertainment. I have to side with the Canadiens in this one mainly because I have been noticing some weird yet concerning reports of Tuukka Rask being very sore. My worry is Tuukka will either not start or play but underperform due to the soreness and when you go against Price you better be 100%. This will come down to a goaltenders battle and I will take Price over Rask every day.
Key Stat: Canadiens are 5-0 in the last 5 meetings in Boston.
Pick: Montreal – Visitor Team Win – V
How many more games can the Maple Laughs blow!?! I’m not going to lie but I kind of feel bad for the Leafs as they could have easily begun the season 4-0 if it weren’t for their late game collapses. Auston Matthews and the kids look great as they have averaged 3.5 goals and 34 shots a game. Now if they could only keep the puck out of the net… ehem Frederik. Well don’t worry Leafs fans as this game will not bring you another 3rd period collapse. Instead the Blackhawks will get the win here by two or more goals in regulation. Patrick Kane should have a multi-point night as the Blackhawks have compiled 12 goals in their last two games and a date with the Leafs should be like a fat kid in a candy store. Give me the Blackhawks in regulation.
Key Stat: Maple Leafs are 0-6 in the last 6 meetings in Chicago.
Pick: Chicago – Home Team Win – H+
The fun ends here for the Canucks. As mentioned earlier, the Canucks have begun the season undefeated winning four straight at home. As impressive as that is, there only true test throughout this win streak was against the Blues who they beat in overtime. All of their wins have been rather tight as they have had to go overtime for three of their four games. Now the Canucks find themselves heading into the Staples Center to take on a demoralized Kings squad who are without their golden boy Jonathan Quick for a lengthy time. Never fear however as Jeff Zatkoff and Peter Budaj are here. But seriously the Kings need to fix their goaltending situation if they want any chance of making the post-season. Lucky for them they won’t need much of a performance tonight from either Zatkoff or Budaj to get the win against an overrated Canucks team. Give me the Kings as they will control this game and dominate time of possession to protect their obvious lack of goaltending.
Key Stat: Canucks are 2-6 in the last 8 meetings in Los Angeles.
Pick: Los Angeles – Home Team Win – H
Some things you just can’t explain in life. Like why do cows always face north or south while eating? Or what is the actual meaning of life? Better yet, how the hell is John Tortorella still a coach in the NHL? I cannot answer any of these. But one thing I can tell you is the Blue Jackets will never be a good team as long as Tortorella is there and all fantasy owners who have a piece of Columbus will suffer until he is gone. Interestingly enough all the trends point towards a Columbus win as the Blue Jackets seem to play the Stars well. The last time these teams met the Blue Jackets destroyed the Stars 6-3 at home in a barn burner. But I just hate Tortorella and his tactics and I think Jamie Benn will make it rain in DFS tonight leading the Stars to a regulation win. Take the Stars.
Key Stat: Over is 5-0 in the last 5 meetings.
Pick: Dallas – Home Team Win – H+