Before we dig into this Saturday's action, lets look at how I fared last weekend.
Last Week’s Picks (my picks are in bold):
After going 6-2 last Saturday (including my upset pick Toronto), I look to keep it going this Saturday. Let's get'er going.
Today's early game begins in Pittsburgh, where the Penguins are enjoying (literally) an eight-game home-stand late in the season. So far, it has been a successful stay, going 4-1-1 in that stretch. In fact, the Penguins have only tasted defeat three times in March, with two of those being in overtime or the shootout.
The Rangers are coming off a shootout loss to the Thrashers, where they blew a three-goal lead.
After both teams' coaching change, they have each become a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference. The difference in this matchup for me is the Rangers record the road and the Penguins stellar play at home.
After dispatching my hometown Flames 2-0 on Thursday night in a near-perfect game, I again like their chances. The Rangers will be in tough as the Penguins are playing well and the "Igloo" is rocking. Penguins win.
Both teams have been struggling a bit as of late, but so have the teams around them in the standings. The Preds currently sit tied in eighth spot in the Western Conference with the Anaheim Ducks, whom everyone thought were entering a rebuilding stage after trading away some players at the deadline.
The thing that continues to hurt the Kings playoff chances is the fact they have no number one goaltender. They haven't had one since, dare I say it, Jamie Storr. In my opinion, they have to chose between Erik Ersberg and Jonathan Quick, and ride him.
Nashville has enjoyed a good record on home ice this season, and that is a key contributor to them pushing for the postseason. I like the odds of them 'covering' on home ice, but you can never count out the Kings wherever they play. Predators win.
Boston Bruins (46-17-10 - 102 pts) @ Toronto Maple Leafs (31-31-13 - 75 pts)
Boston has seemed to turn around their mini slump just in time. The Devils and Capitals were closing the gap for first place in the Eastern Conference, and the Bruins have a date with the Maple Leafs on a Saturday night.
The Bruins haven't played since a 4-1 win over the Devils on Sunday, and in my mind I think the layoff helps in this case.
Toronto's players may not be heavily skilled, but they compete shift after shift.
The Bruins are rested and ready. I take the Bruins to win tonight, but remember...NEVER COUNT OUT THE MAPLE LEAFS ON A SATURDAY NIGHT. Bruins win.
Buffalo Sabres (36-30-8 - 80 pts) @ Montreal Canadiens (38-27-9 - 85 pts)
Who knew all the Habs needed was a butt-kicking by the Maple Leafs on home ice. After losing 5-2 to Toronto last Saturday, Montreal has won two straight (over Atlanta and Tampa Bay).
Some may say these were "gimme" wins being against two of the worst teams in the league, but don't tell Montreal. They look to build on their newly found confidence against a struggling Sabres squad.
A few weeks ago, the Sabres were looking good to make the playoffs but inconsistent play by Ryan Miller and lack of scoring and defense has hurt their chances. Their last push for the post-season won't be easy as they have struggled against playoff teams lately. Six of their final eight games are against teams currently in the playoffs.
In the end, I don't think the Habs have fully turned the corner yet, and the Sabres will make the Eastern Conference a bit more interesting with a win tonight on the road. My upset pick for the night...Sabres win.
Stay tuned for Part II...