We've had some drama and some team changes in the past week, and even a European coach hired to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets. But as we finish up our fourth week of regulation hockey, I still find myself getting all excited at the thought of the teams hitting the ice. Hockey, I did miss you!
Let's see what we have on tap for tonight.
Boston (8-1-2) at Buffalo (5-8-1) NESN, MSG - Buffalo
The two have split their last two meetings this season so far, with Buffalo winning the first game and Boston evening it up in the second matchup. The Bruins are hot right now, winning 7 of their last 10, and Buffalo is struggling a little. However, the Sabres have the home ice advantage, and Boston is towards the end of a road trip, so I'll go against the grain and say Buffalo can get this one.
Bryan: Buffalo is the only team to beat Boston in regulation. seems the B's have problems with Vanek, they just can't contain him. I'm going with Buffalo to beat them again, but it may could be in ooooovertime!
Jess: Ah, I think I'm going to be the odd man out here. I call Boston.
Philadelphia (5-4-1) at New Jersey (5-2-3) CSN - PH, MSG Plus
New Jersey came out of the gate flying this season, but have settled back into a less winning state of late. The re-acquisition of left wing, Alexei Ponikarovsky from the Jets could be a great move for the Devils who hold a tenuous lead in the Eastern Conference, but becoming comfortable with his new again team might take more than a period or two. I'm taking Philly in this one.
Jess: I don't know a lot about either of these teams this year, and your point about Ponikarovsky makes sense, Debi. However, I just like the Devils more.
Bryan: I refuse to pick this one, I'd rather see the roof of the Prudential Center cave in.
Pittsburgh (9-5-0) at Winnipeg (5-6-1) CBC, RDS, ROOT
Winnipeg has surprised me this season. No, they aren't leading anything and aren't even at 50% in the win/loss column, but the coach is trying to make moves to gain wins, and that's good to see. Eric Tangradi will join the Jets tonight, after being traded away from the Pens, so there could be some fireworks, if he was unhappy with the trade. Just to play Devil's Advocate, I'll take the Jets in this matchup.
Jess: I like Pittsburgh here.
Bryan: I'm obviously a bit one-sided on here, but I don't think Pavelec can beat the Pens twice in one year, that's asking a lot. The Pens resume their domination of the Thrashers/Jets franchise.
Anaheim (9-2-1) at Detroit (7-4-2) PRIME, FS - Detroit
I try to like the Red Wings, but I just can't. The Ducks are having an incredible start to their season, and I don't believe even the fairly hot Red Wings can derail them. Ducks got this one.
Jess: I know Jess won't pick this one, so I'll say GO DUCKS for her ~ JCF
Bryan: Detroit still isn't the same team, botton 5 on the PI?!?! The Ducks are coming off provably their best win of the year in Chicago. I think that momentum will carry them to a win tonight at the Joe.
San Jose Sharks (7-3-3) at Chicago Blackhawks (10-0-3)
San Jose has not done well in the last few games, while Chicago continues to dominate the league. They have yet to lose in regulation, and nothing seems to stop them (except the Ducks). San Jose needs to really get their act together and find their offence again, but I don't believe they will accomplish that tonight. Blackhawks win.
Bryan: The Sharks are suddenly struggling, but are they the team to knock off the Hawks? Chicago won at the Shark Tank, right? I'm going with the home team to keep it going for at least one more night.
Jess: Yea, what's going on with the Sharks? They had such a strong start and now they're playing like it's the playoffs. I don't think that they're a bad team that had a fluke beginning though. They'll pull out of this slump and start winning again. I'm not sure if that happens tonight. One other point is that the longer Chicago wins the more vulnerable they're going to become. I'm going with the Sharks here just because Chicago has to lose sometime. Don't they?
Okay, so my Flames are at the bottom of the league. However, they came out against Dallas Tuesday night and did what I never expected, won! And they did so quite well. They scored 7 goals, and didn't even falter when Dallas scored as well. Mikka Kiiprusoff is still out, so Leland Irving is in goal, and performing quite beautifully. Whether they can hold of St. Louis is another question, but I should get home from work in time to see the game, if Sportsnet doesn't have it blacked out, and I am loyal, so I will take the Flames.
Jess: I'm glad someone beat Dallas, and I'm especially glad it was your favorite team. My team played like peewees against them - of course, the one team in the league I despise. St. Louis has a strong offense, and though Irving may be doing well I'm not sure he and D will be able to hold the Blues at bay. If the Flames can kick their offense up a notch, they could take this game.
Bryan: Debi, I want to pick your Flames, but it's going to be a tough task! I think Calgary keeps it close, perhaps to OT, but I see the Blues finding a way to win this one. I'm sorry, I hope I'm wrong!
Debi: That's okay Bryan, it has been the way of things all season - if they don't lose outright, they seem to get to OT only to lose.
Dallas (7-6-1) at Vancouver (8-2-2) FS-SW, SNET-P
Ugh. I hate Vancouver. I know Dallas got their butts kicked by Calgary on Tuesday, but I'm hoping they can rebound against Vancouver. I take Dallas.
Jess: I don't love Vancouver, but my detest for Dallas runs deep. I can't in good conscience pick the Stars. Even if I could, I think the 'Nucks take this one at home tonight.
Bryan: The law firm of Sedin, Sedin, and Luongo shut down Jagr and associates.
Columbus (4-7-2) at Los Angeles (4-4-2) FS-Ohio, FS-West
Los Angeles is still playing catch up, having played ten games while many other teams have played 13. On top of that, they got sent on an insane road trip. Columbus , however, has a brand new coach, and a European one at that. Coaching style is going to be different and I believe it will take some time to get used to him. I take the Kings.
Jess: I think the Kings take this one easily.
Bryan: The Kings have been struggling, but Columbus is still Columbus as far as I'm concerned. Kings win this one on home ice, Jackets continue to bring up the rear.
So there you have it. I'm at work this evening but you can bet I'll be sneaking off to my locker for looks at the phone for updates, and I may even be able to post in here before you all go to bed. Please join in with us, and throw your picks in as well.