Not a bad start for me last week with four correct picks out of six, including my gold and my silver picks. And yet, all I can think about is how close I was to winning that Toronto vs New York spread. Really, Islanders? Really? You couldn't score a second measly goal for me? Against Petr Mrazek (to whom I definitely owe an apology)? It's going to take some time before you guys can convince me to make a pick in your favour again.
But it's okay. I'll put that behind me, as this week's games have me even more excited than last week's, when most of the evening duels felt very lop-sided. Today I'm presented with more balanced and unpredictable matchups, and I'm up for the challenge.
We've got the league's biggest disappointment of the season in Montreal facing, well, the league's biggest disappointment of the season in Edmonton. The erratic Sharks facing the intimidating Panthers. A basement brawl opposing the almighty Coyotes to the tantalizing Sabres. And Philly, just trying to stay afloat. Let's waste no more time and dive into this exciting day.
New Jersey Devils @ Carolina Hurricanes – Pick: Hurricanes
Last week, I didn't even dare to comment on their matchup. While the Hurricanes have consistently been atop the league since the season started, the Devils go to war every night deploying a ferocious battalion of young forwards, some of whom are currently going through breakout seasons. Their defensive unit, admittedly lacking some top-end talent while Douge Hamilton is sidelined, offers a nice mix of youth and experience. I really do like New Jersey this year, but, unfortunately for them, they're like Pulp Fiction when they were up for Best Picture against Forrest Gump and Shawshank Redemption. Had it been another year, sky would've been the limit, but this season, it's just not happening buddy.
And on that note, they're just not beating Carolina twice in the same week. First, Jon Gillies just ain't it. He's serviceable, sure, but the only way I'd be comfortable with him in net is if I was facing the Charlotte Checkers instead. Second, the game is played in Raleigh, and New Jersey doesn't have a great track record on the road. They've only won five games out of 19 when away from home, and I really don't see them improving that against the Hurricanes, who boast the opposite record when at home, having lost five out of 19 at PNC.
Finally, and probably the biggest factor here, Carolina has the very uncommon luxury of only having one name on their injury list, soon-to-be-out-of-the-league defenseman, Jake Gardiner. Yes, you've read that right. While the Devils have to piece together a team that's missing both their goalkeepers and arguably their two best defensemen (and Miles Wood), the Hurricanes are avoiding the ER like a middle-aged man whose insurance recently expired. Plus, you know the old adage, one Hurricanes pick a day keeps the losing streaks away.
Buffalo Sabres @ Arizona Coyotes – Pick: Coyotes
I'm getting cocky. Picking Arizona as heavy favourites in a matchup is like playing in the NHL in an arena with a capacity of 5 000. It should never happen. But hear me out for a second here. Remember when I said how New Jersey has both starting goalkeepers on the IR? Well guess who wishes they were in that situation. Yeah, that's right.