Welcome to the inaugural edition of Weekend Picks. Weekends in February and March were made for hanging out and watching some afternoon and evening NHL games. Dave and Jeff plan to do that for the rest of the year and to see who posts a better record by season’s end. They’ll select three games for each day of the weekend and pick a winner. Yes, they know their Devils hockey…but how about the rest of the league? It’s time to find out! On to the picks:
(If you would like to play along and make your own picks, please pick three games each for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and post your winners in our comments section before Friday at 7 p.m. EST. May the best man win!)
OTT @ CAR – The Senators are a team that were picked in the preseason to finish towards the bottom of the conference. So far, they’ve proven everyone wrong and are off to a strong start. Carolina has been widely inconsistent thus far. The Sens are the pick.
WPG @ TB – Tampa Bay has been on fire to start the season and they haven’t shown signs of slowing up yet. Though they’re not an overpowering defensive team, they’ve gotten solid production none the less. Look for the Bolts to take this one in a high scoring affair.
CHI @ VAN -While the Blackhawks have gotten off to a great start, Vancouver is starting to come into form as well. Roberto Luongo gets the start here after posting a shutout against Colorado. I think the Canucks will find a way to get the best of the Hawks in a close game.
BOS @ TOR – Toronto has had a few nice wins so far, but they’re a ways away still. Boston will be fuming coming off of that 7-4 loss to the Sabres. I expect the Bruins to bounce back and win this one on the road.
NYR @ TB -The Rangers have struggled lately and the Tampa Bay offense is not what they want to see right now. Tampa is coming off a back-to-back here, but I think they’ll find a way to get it done at home.
LA @ ANA – This regional rivalry is renewed once again, with both teams fighting for positioning in the division. I think Anaheim has been the better team so far and they get the nod on their home ice.
PIT @ WSH – Quite frankly, Washington has been a disappointment. Alex Ovechkin is no longer the big time threat he once was. The Penguins have been very good at times this season and I think it continues here in Washington.
FLA @ BUF -Florida has been a disaster. Last year’s playoff surprise has been one of the worst so far this year. Though Buffalo hasn’t exactly been stellar, I think that they’ll find a way to get it done at home.
NJ @ NYI – The Devils need this one, especially if they lose on Saturday. Look for New Jersey to come in and play a tighter defensive game. The Islanders have been impressive so far, they have a ton of offensive weapons.
PHI @ WSH – Boy, both this teams need this game REALLY badly. Both have gotten off to really poor starts. I think they’re rather even in terms of talent and personnel. Going to give the edge to the head coach who has been to several Stanley Cups. I think Laviolette’s crew takes it over the rookie Oates and his guys.
PHO @ DAL – Both squads are a few games under .500. One of these teams is playing to where everyone thought and the other is not. The Stars were picked by many to finish in the basement of the West. The Coyotes have pumped in 22 goals but allowed 22 as well. Look for a big win in Texas for the Coyotes.
MIN @ ANA – Minnesota has only had to play two road games so far this year. They’ve lost both times. Expect that to continue on Friday. Have a hunch that Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller will find his “A” game in this contest.
BUF @ MTL - After kicking around the Bruins the other night with a big offensive output, expect the Sabres to be brought back down to earth by the Habs. With P.K. Subban back, the already productive Canadiens just became a bit more dangerous. Montral is just 1-2 so far at home early on; don’t expect that to last.
EDM @ COL – All of the sudden, the Oilers are just loaded with talent up front. They have a pair of stud offensive lines and can even dig into a reliable third line on the attack. Goaltender Devan Dubnyk has gotten off to a really nice start as well. Edmonton is going to make some noise this year.
NSH @ SJ – The Sharks have to lose eventually, right? I think happens on Saturday. I would REALLY love this pick if the game was in Smashville, but either way, law of averages says its time for a Sharks loss. It’s going to be all on Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne, however, as the Preds have only scored 11 times in seven contests.
PIT @ WSH – It’s going to be a conference of parity this year. No one will speed away with any division this year. Pittsburgh may be way ahead in terms of personnel and finding their game early in the season, but things can change in a hot minute in the NHL. Pittsburgh gets a tough Devils team on Saturday before arriving in Washington. Caps win a game.
OTT @ MTL – The Sens have been on fire. They’re getting everything they could possibly want in terms of goaltending, defense and offense. Hence the reason they lead the Eastern Conference. With the Habs playing in this one in the back end of a back-t0-back, expect the Sens to do enough to take the contest.
FLA @ BUF – The inverse of the Sharks, the Panthers can’t be this bad, right? Even though Buffalo ripped Boston the other night, their defense has not been up-to-par. They are letting in more than three goals a game. Stephen Weiss and Kris Versteeg, key players from last year’s division winner, have already missed time. Florida wins just because…