Chris' NHL Saturday Selections, Part II: Edmonton Needs A Win

Chris GschwendtnerCorrespondent IApril 4, 2009

EDMONTON, AB - SEPTEMBER 22:  Alexander Edler #23 of the Vancouver Canucks poke checks the puck from the stick of Ethan Moreau #18 of the Edmonton Oilers during an NHL preseason game on September 22, 2008 at Rexall Arena in Edmonton, Canada. The Canucks defeated the Oilers 4-3 in shootout overtime. (Photo by Jimmy Jeong/Getty Images)

Tampa Bay Lightning (24-36-18—66 pts) @ New York Islanders (25-43-9—59 pts)

In a battle of two of the basement teams in the league, one of them will get a win.  These two teams have a combined 49 wins on the season, which is two wins behind the league's best in the San Jose Sharks.

If I were a betting man, I would avoid this game but I'll do my best to give you a few statistics before you punch your ticket.

The Islanders have been playing tough at home lately, but seem to have the win slip away in the third period.  The same can be said of the Lightning, who have a league-most 18 overtime loses. 

Steven Stamkos, the No. 1 pick in last year's draft, has been living up to his name.  He is now up to 21 goals after only having four goals half-way through the season.  They will need him to keep up his frantic scoring pace as captain Vincent Lecavalier is out for the remainder of the season.

In the end, I think the Lightning can out-score the Islanders even though this is the second of back-to-back road games.  Lightning win.

Pittsburgh Penguins (42-27-8—92 pts) @ Carolina Hurricanes (43-28-7—93 pts)

This is a spectacular match-up and would make a great series in the playoffs.  The 'Canes have won seven straight to put themselves in the mix of obtaining home-ice in the first round of the playoffs.  They are 11-1-2 in their last 14.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is just one point behind the Hurricanes in a tight race.  They too have been very hot lately, going 13-1-2 in their last 16.  Crosby, Malkin, and company are all scoring, and the team defense has also been stellar.

The Hurricanes seven game winning steak is in jeopardy tonight against the Pens.  If they win tonight, it will be the most impressive victory of their streak and a huge confidence boost heading into the playoffs.  I say the streak lives on.  Hurricanes win.

Columbus Blue Jackets (40-29-8—88 pts) @ Nashville Predators (38-32-8—84 pts)

A recent two-game slide has knocked the Predators temporarily out of the playoffs.  With so many teams in the mix for the final spot, the standings in the Western Conference change daily.

Columbus is looking for their first playoff berth in their eight year existence, and could get that much closer with a victory tonight.

Nashville has more to play for and need a victory and desperation pays.  My upset pick of the week says Predators win.

St. Louis Blues (38-31-9—85 pts) @ Dallas Stars (34-34-10—78 pts)

The Dallas Stars are basically out of the playoffs.  Even if they win-out the rest of the season, they finish with 86 points, which is one point up on current eighth seed.  But leap-frogging four teams is very unlikely.

Injuries have harnessed the Stars this season after having a "magical" run last season to the Conference Finals.  Zubov, Morrow, and Richards especially have missed lots of time.  Defensive troubles have also plagued the Stars, having the sixth worst goals against in the league.

I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but St. Louis is one of the contenders for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.  Currently in eighth and with three of their final four games being against non-playoff teams, they control their own destiny.  Blues win.

Vancouver Canucks (42-25-10—94 pts) @ Edmonton Oilers (36-33-9—81 pts)

Vancouver clinched a playoff spot with a point in their shootout loss to the Ducks earlier this week, but are still in contention for either the division or the fourth seed.  They have a favorable schedule down the stretch, so both of those possibilities are in reach.

Who would have thought that a six-game homestand would be a bad thing this late in the season? 

The Oilers have lost all three home games thus far, and are quickly slipping out of the playoff picture.  In fact, they have the worst home record in the Western Conference. 

Add to the fact they are playing one of the hottest teams over the past two months, you can all but kiss the playoffs goodbye. Canucks win.

Anaheim Ducks (40-32-6—86 pts) @ San Jose Sharks (51-15-11—113 pts)

The Sharks could do a few teams a favor with a win over the upstart Ducks.  A win would also nearly solidify home ice throughout the playoffs and the Presidents' Trophy for the league's best record. 

With the Red Wings slumping, San Jose is now six points up on Detroit with each team having five games remaining.

Rookie Bobby Ryan and former back-up Jonas Hiller are leading the Ducks to a playoff spot with their great play lately.  Ryan leads all rookies in points with 54 in only 60 games, and Jonas Hiller has won three straight as the new No. 1 goalie in Anaheim.

In the end, San Jose does have the best home record in the league and Anaheim has had their struggles with their Pacific Division rival.  Sharks win.

Phoenix Coyotes (34-37-7—75 pts) @ Los Angeles Kings (31-35-11—73 pts)

In the final game of another busy Saturday, two bottom teams face off in California.  LA has been in a tail-spin lately and have no shot at making the playoffs this year.

Phoenix on the other hand is looking to finish the season strong, going 6-2-1 in their last nine games.

Both teams are looking forward to next year, so it's tough to pick a winner.  But with the Coyotes' recent success, they have a good shot tonight against the Kings and whomever they put in net.  Coyotes win.

Thanks for reading my Saturday Selections for this week.  Until next week, let the pucks stay frozen and the games be amamamazing! 


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