NHL Previews – March 12, 2008

After going a perfect 3-for-3 on my predictions on Monday I was 6-3 last night. One of those wins I got exactly right as the Red Wings did indeed beat the Blackhawks 3-1. Overall I am 9-3 with my predictions and have gotten two games exactly right (16%). Enough patting myself on the back – on to today’s previews and predictions. Unlike yesterday I have time to give proper previews of each game, complete with team logos. Remember, all predictions are for fun only and are not for gambling purposes.

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The Toronto Maple Leafs still think they can make the playoffs. Isn’t that cute!?! It’s like a dog that believes it can catch it’s tail – fun to watch, but you feel sorry for it because it’s too stupid to realize that it’s never going to succeed. The Maple Leafs – currently in 12th place in the Eastern Conference and behind the Buffalo Sabres, Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers not to mention seven points behind 8th seeded Philadelphia with 11 games to play – still believe they can make the playoffs. Adorable.

Last night the Maple Leafs beat the Flyers to “keep their playoff hopes alive” and they’ll have to win again tonight if they want to continue to dream of playing in the postseason. Yes, mathematically it’s possible for the Leafs to make the playoffs but realistically it’s not. It’s theoretically possible that Shannon Elizabeth will call me up and offer me money for sex, but I’m not sitting next to the phone.

Toronto is 8-3-1 in their last 12 games and in those 12 games Mats Sundin has scored eight goals and 10 assists. That’s the kind of production that made him such a hot commodity before the trading deadline but it’s too little, too late for the Leafs.

The Flyers are 5-11-2 in their last 18 games but all five of those wins are in the last eight so it’s not as bad as it seems. Head-to-head this season the Flyers are 2-1 against the Leafs. 

The Maple Leafs are 4-0-1 in their last five road games and I think that will continue. I’ll predict a 4-3 win for Toronto.

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GAME OF THE NIGHT!

Jarome Iginla and Alexander Ovechkin on the same ice? Count me in! This should be a great game to watch and both teams really need the two points. Calgary is currently leading the Northwest Division but is in a tie with Colorado and is just one point ahead of Minnesota and two points ahead of Vancouver. In other words – the Flames need these points.

The Capitals, on the other hand, are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Penguins. As you probably know Niklas Backstrom shot the puck into his own net with less than a minute to go to give the Penguins the victory. When I say it’s heartbreaking I’m not making it up, here’s what Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau had to say after that game: “That was officially heartbreaking.” See!?!

Did you know…the loss to the Penguins on Sunday is the first time that the Capitals have lost back-to-back games in regulation since Boudreau took over as head coach on Thanksgiving? It’s true!

Washington is the more desparate team in this game and they are at home. The Flames are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games and goalie Miikka Kiprusoff is 5-1-2 in his last eight starts. That being said I’ll predict a 3-1 win for the Capitals.

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Two teams going in opposite directions will meet tonight in Pittsburgh as the Sabres take on the Penguins. Sidney Crosby will NOT play in this game due to a reaggravation of the ankle injury that kept him out of the lineup for six weeks. Marian Hossa will not play either as he’s still out with a knee sprain. Also out of the lineup for Pittsburgh will be Petr Sykora (back) and Maxime Talbot (ankle).

The Sabres will not feel any pity for the Penguins, though, as they are going to be without Jaroslav Spacek and Dmitri Kalinin for the rest of the regular season. Things are so thin on Buffalo’s blueline that head coach Lindy Ruff is considering playing Jason Pominville – the Sabres leading scorer – on defense.

Did you know…the population of Pominville is 23?

With the Sabres blue line as thin as it is, and with Penguins being at home, I give the edge to Pittsburgh. I’ll predict a 4-2 win for the Penguins.

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Ah…the Islanders. A team that has more question marks than the Riddler’s unitard. How can anyone figure out this team? How could anyone be expected to predict what this team will do in any given game, week, month or season?

The Panthers have won four straight; the Islanders have lost three straight. The Panthers are 3-0 against the Islanders this season; New York is 2-7-0 in their last nine games. The Panthers are still without Richard Zednik; the Islanders have five players on injured reserve.

I have to go with the trends in this one and the Panthers recent winning streak and perfect record against the Islanders this season lead me to believe that they will win this game. I’ll predict a 3-1 win for the Panthers.

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Confession time – I have watched very, very few Hurricanes games this season. For whatever reason I just am not interested in watching their games this year and as a result I don’t have a lot of firsthand opinions about them. However, I have watched a good deal of Blackhawks games and know that they are playing well recently and are not going to make it easy on any of the teams they play down the stretch.

The Hurricanes are riding a four-game winning streak and are 10-2-1 in their last 13 games. Cam Ward is 7-1 in his last eight starts. Those are impressive stats, no doubt about it.

The Blackhawks have lost three straight but are 10-6-1 in their last 17 games. Patrick Lalime is 11-4 with a 1.80 GAA against the Hurricanes in his career.

This should be a good game but I’ll predict a 3-2 win for the Hurricanes.

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The Vancouver Canucks are 3-0 against the Ducks this season and, if they win tonight, will complete their first ever season series sweep against Anaheim. Overall the Canucks have won four straight and are while they are eighth in the Western Conference they are only two points behind Northwest Division leading Calgary.

The Ducks, on the other hand, have won seven straight home games and are just four points behind Pacific Division leading San Jose. Clearly this will be a big game for both teams and both should put forth a solid effort.

The Ducks may have to play Jonas Hiller in net as J.S. Giguere played last night in Anaheim’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Coyotes in Phoenix. If they do start Hiller – advantage Canucks. Hiller is not a bad goalie but he’s not a #1 goalie in the NHL for a reason and asking him to beat Roberto Luongo is a tall order.

If you listen to the show, and I’m guessing you do if you are reading this, than you know I am a Ducks fan. Hell, I’m wearing a Ducks jersey in the picture at the top of this page. That being said it’s always tough for me to be objective about the Ducks but I try. I’ll predict a 2-1 Canucks victory. I just don’t think the Ducks will be able to generate enough offense against the Canucks and I think that Hiller will fail to make the big save in the clutch.

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There you have it – those are my predictions for the games tonight. If you have thoughts on these, or have predictions of your own, please post a message. Otherwise enjoy the games and thanks for stopping by PuckPodcast.com.

Doug

About Doug Stolhand 26941 Articles
Doug Stolhand is one of the co-founders and co-hosts of the Puck Podcast and has been a member of the NHL media since the show's inception in 2006.