The Dallas Stars have taken the league by storm over the past week with a six game win streak that includes wins over Washington, and a pair of victories over the St. Louis Blues. They find themselves sitting in second place in the Western Conference, but only four points separate the Stars from the 12th place Anaheim Ducks. Can the Stars keep it going? Are they for real? When will they come back to earth?
Here are all of my picks for tonight, as I look to improve on my 3-2 start to the week.
New Jersey Devils (8-16-2) at Pittsburgh Penguins (18-8-2) 7:00 P.M. EST – On the surface, this pick looks like a no brainer. Pittsburgh has won nine straight, while the Devils are one of the worst teams in hockey. However, the Devils play very well against the Penguins, having won five of the last six meetings. This game may not be as lopsided as some think, but I can’t pick against the Penguins right now.
Pick: Penguins 4 Devils 2
Toronto Maple Leafs (9-12-4) at Washington Capitals (18-8-2) 7:00 P.M. EST – In another one sided match up that represents just how much talent separates the best from the worst in the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the nation’s capital to take on the NHL leading Washington Capitals. The Capitals are a dominant team at home, 9-2 in their last 11, and they are simply the better team.
Pick: Capitals 5 Maple Leafs 3
Atlanta Thrashers (14-10-3) at Nashville Predators (12-8-5) 7:00 P.M. EST – This should be a great low scoring battle between two very hot teams in the Thrashers and Predators. While Nashville has won four of the last five games in this series, Atlanta is riding a five game home winning streak. I like the Thrashers at home.
Pick: Thrashers 3 Predators 2
Dallas Stars (16-8-1) at Columbus Blue Jackets (14-10-1) 7:00 P.M. EST – The Dallas Stars have been edging out close victories, while not playing their absolute best hockey. The scary part is that they have won six straight despite not playing as well as they can. Kari Lehtonen has been outstanding with a 1.73 goals against average in his last four starts. Dallas is playing on the road where they have struggled a bit this season, but they get a Blue Jackets team that was just blown out by Pittsburgh in their own building. The Stars have to come down to earth at some point, and playing on the road against a strong Western Conference team could be what ends their run.
Pick: Blue Jackets 3 Stars 1
San Jose Sharks (12-9-4) at Detroit Red Wings (17-4-3) 7:30 P.M. EST – If Jimmy Howard returns to action tonight, the Wings should win this one handily. Howard is unbeatable at home, and the Sharks could not find an answer for the great defense and goaltending of Montreal over the weekend.
Pick: Red Wings 3 Sharks 1