Chris' NHL Saturday Selections Part I: Habs Battle Leafs in TO

Chris GschwendtnerCorrespondent IApril 4, 2009

24 November, 1997:  Saku Koivu #11 of the Montreal Canadiens in action against the San Jose Sharks at the Molson Center in Toronto, Canada.  The Canadiens tied the Sharks 2-2.  Mandatory Credit: Robert Laberge  /Allsport

Let's take a quick look at my prediction results from last Saturday.

Last Week’s Picks (my picks are in bold):

Pittsburghbeat NYR, Nashville beat LA, Boston beat Toronto, Buffalo beat Montreal, Carolina beat New Jersey, Philadelphia beat New York Islanders, Atlanta beat Ottawa, Florida beat Dallas, St. Louis beat Columbus, Calgary beat Minnesota, San Jose beat Phoenix.

After a stellar 10-1 record last Saturday (including my upset pick Buffalo), I look to keep it going this Saturday.  Let's get'er going.


New York Rangers (40-29-9 - 89 pts) @ Boston Bruins (50-17-10 - 110 pts)

Look out Eastern Conference, the Bruins are back. The team has won five in a row and closed off the month of March in style. To make it even more sweet for Boston fans, all they need is one more point or one Washington loss to clinch top spot in the Eastern Conference. 

With a record of 27-6-6 at home, that could be a key factor in going far in the postseason.

Sean Avery and the Blueshirts are clinging to eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, only one point up on the upstart Florida Panthers. Despite their improvement under coach John Tortorella, the Rangers are in real danger of missing the postseason, which is never good for such a strong market team.

The Rangers have been a bit inconsistent down the stretch, and need to pick it up in order to make the playoffs. Tuesday's matchup between the Rangers and visiting Montreal Canadiens will have huge implications on playoff positioning.

Boston players are aware of their positioning and 'magic number', so expect them to come out energetic and ready, especially at home. As for the Rangers...with the way Sean Avery has been playing, it's a shame they didn't pick him up sooner. Bruins win.


New Jersey Devils (48-26-4 - 100 pts) @ Buffalo Sabres (38-30-9 - 85 pts) ***

What is happening in New Jersey these days? Despite yesterday's crazy 5-4 win in overtime against the Lightning, the Devils still look fragile with one week remaining in the regular season. 

Brodeur, who was honored yesterday for becoming the all-time leader in regular season wins for a goalie, won last night's game when Kevin Weekes got injured in the second period.

Meanwhile, Buffalo is still mathematically part of the playoff picture. After a huge win last night in Washington, the Sabres sit four points back of eighth in the eastern conference with five games left to play. If they can string a few victories together down the stretch, they could make the postseason.

As for today's match-up, I think the Devils are looking to build on their win last night.  New Jersey got a huge monkey off their back by ending their six-game losing streak, and Brent Sutter (as all coaches do) wants to enter the playoffs on a high.  Brodeur thrives on the work load and will be ready.

A loss by Buffalo will severely tarnish their playoff chances with a week left to play.  Devils win.


Montreal Canadiens (40-27-10 - 90 pts) @ Toronto Maple Leafs (32-33-13 - 77 pts)

Looks like Montreal is on the right direction these days. After a short stint in the eighth seed position of the conference, Montreal has put some wins together and are moving on up.

However, the bubble teams are also playing well, so the Habs have not gotten any separation from them in the standings. A win tonight can possibly change that.

If the Canadiens make the playoffs, they are probably going to start on the road. Away from Montreal, the team has struggled, so an improved road effort is needed. With three of their remaining five games on the road, the Canadiens can find their road game before the playoffs (if they make it) begin.

Toronto was officially eliminated last week, but we all knew they weren't going to make it (even Leafs fans). Give Ron Wilson credit though, he got his team to overachieve in most analysts eyes. With the hiring of Brian Burke as GM, the upper management and coaching staff look solid for years to come.

Like every Saturday, you can never count out the Maple Leafs, but the Canadiens have more to play for.  The Leafs will keep it close, but will be a tired bunch having played in Philadelphia last night.  Canadiens win.


Philadelphia Flyers (42-25-10 - 94 pts) @ Ottawa Senators (33-34-10 - 76 pts)

With Carolina's late surge, the Flyers aren't an automatic to get the last home-ice seed in the first round. For the past few weeks, they were one of the top four in the eastern conference and looking good heading into the playoffs.

Some mediocre play lately has them in the same sentence as Pittsburgh and Carolina for the fourth seed.

They had an offensive surge last night scoring five goals in the first period against the Leafs. Jeff Carter is now up to 44 goals on the campaign. The Flyers have the scoring, but the question heading into the playoffs will be their defensive play.

With lots of talk lately about shutdown pair Kimmo Timonen and Ryan Parent, they have yet to be tested in the postseason.

Like Toronto, Ottawa was officially eliminated from the playoffs early in the week.  They have been playing well lately, but it's too little too late. The new goal for the Sens is to achieve more points then their rivals in Toronto, who are currently one point up on them. 

This season may be a write off, but bragging rights can still be made in the province of Ontario when it's all said and done.

Philadelphia will retain fourth spot in the east when the night ends. Flyers win.


Stay tuned for Part II...