Saturday Night Hockey, in Canada and across the US
Seven of the 12 games get underway at 7:00 pm ET, and there will hopefully be some actual games in the matchups.
The Washington Capitals are having an incredible year, and I have to honestly admit I cheer for them every time they get on the ice. At 20-6-6, their matchup against the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs likely won't be too much of a challenge, however, the Leafs have defeated the Caps once this year, at home, although it was in a shoot out. This is the rubber match, and Toronto has the home ice advantage. Added to that the difficulties Washington experienced getting to Toronto (their Charter plane had to turn around on the runway due to "sparks" from underneath the plane) and Toronto may have a distinct advantage. I certainly hope not. Canadians can catch the game on CBC.
Also at 7:00 the Anaheim Ducks visit the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Ducks are coming off a loss last night to the Detroit Red Wings, also in OT, after jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the earlier going. The Philadelphia Flyers also visit the New Jersey Devils at 7:00, and the Flyers are struggling mightily at this point in the season. Their win/loss record in the last 8 is deplorable, but the Flyers have won the first two against the Devils this year. Unfortunately, the Flyers are without goalie Ray Emery, so this one will be a contest.
The New York Islanders are slumping, losing more than they have won recently, and they take on the forceful Boston Bruins at home tonight. Boston looked mothing like the team from last year in the earlier games and couldn't seem to get a puck in the net. but their offence has obviously figured that out, as they have been on a winning streak of late.
The New York Rangers host the Buffalo Sabres tonight in their second meeting on consecutive Saturdays. New York won last Saturday night, so you can bet Buffalo will be out to even the score. At the same time, Montreal visits the Atlanta Thrashers. The Habs and the Thrashers are fairly evenly matched, surprisingly enough, and again this should be a decent matchup, with the teams sharing one win each in their previous meetings this season.
The final 7:00 pm game is the Carolina Hurricanes at the Ottawa Senators, but neither team is looking like a winning team this season. One team or the other will have to win, but at this point, picking the home team might be the only advantage.
Only one game gets underway at 7:30 and that one features the Pittsburgh Penguins hosting the Florida Panthers. This one is also a tough one to call as, although Pittsburgh came out of the gate strong and got to 20 wins before any other team, they seem a little disjointed lately, having trouble even with the Montreal Canadiens earlier this week. Florida, on the other hand, just came out of a losing slide, defeating New Jersey. They won't want to slide backwards again, so could have a surprise in store for the Pens.
At 8:00 pm, the Phoenix Coyotes, who today announced they finally have an owner, will take on the San Jose Sharks. The Coyotes have been surprisingly strong so far this year, perhaps the players showing any prospective purchasers that they want to be in the NHL and want to be contenders. The San Jose Sharks again came out strong, right from the first drop of the puck, so again, this could be the game to watch. At the same time, the Detroit Red Wings take on the Nashville Predators. Nashville has more wins than Detroit, yet the Wings are the favorite.
At 10:00 pm, the Minnesota Wild continue their road trip west and take on Vancouver. As I mentioned, Minnesota defeated Calgary last night, coming from behind, so they will be on theat winning hype and looking to dominate Vancouver.
The final game of the night is the Dallas Stars visiting the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings are finally having the season Becky has been predicting, and winning games one would have scoffed at last year. This is the third meeting for the two teams this year, splitting a win each, but honestly, I have to take the Kings in this one. Although Dallas is having success, the Kings have just been playing too good to go against.
So, as always, if you aren't into College games and hockey is YOUR game, just as it is mine, chat if up here, trash talk, brag, taunt or whatever. Don't forget to make your picks, and remember, there are still rewards for getting the right picks!
Here's the full schedule, complete with links to the game pages:
Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs CBC
Anaheim Ducks at Columbus Blue Jackets Prime
Montreal Canadiens at Atlanta Thrashers CBC
Buffalo Sabres at New York Rangers
Boston Bruins at New York Islanders NESN
Philadelphia Flyers at New Jersey Devils
Carolina Hurricanes at Ottawa Senators CBC
Florida Panthers at Pittsburgh Penguins
San Jose Sharks at Phoenix Coyotes
Detroit Red Wings at Nashville Predators
Minnesota Wild at Vancouver Canucks CBC
Dallas Stars at Los Angeles Kings