Chris' Saturday Selections Part I: Take the Maple Leafs to Beat The Habs

Chris GschwendtnerCorrespondent IMarch 21, 2009

MONTREAL - JANUARY 24:  Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens defends the net against Luke Schenn #2 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the Honda NHL Superskills competition as part of the 2009 NHL All-Star weekend on January 24, 2009 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada. (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

Even though it is a light schedule for a Saturday night in the NHL, there are still lots of stories and interesting matchups as we approach the post-season.  Without further ado, let's take a closer look at today's games.

Dallas Stars (33-30-8 - 74 pts) @ San Jose Sharks (46-14-10 - 102 pts)

San Jose has struggled lately, as evidence of their lead in the Western Conference evaporating and being overtaken for No. 1 spot by the Detroit Red Wings

Injuries could be used as an excuse (Nabokov has missed some time), but the Dallas Stars have had it worse when it comes to injuries. 

Key players Brad Richards, Brenden Morrow and Sergei Zubov have all missed plenty of games this season with various injuries. 

On the contrary, Dallas has climbed up in the standings with exception to a recent slide.

In the end, the Stars will battle and put up a good effort today, but the Sharks are too good at home.  Sharks win.

Toronto Maple Leafs (29-30-13 - 71 pts) @ Montreal Canadiens (36-26-9 - 81 pts)

This is my upset pick for the night.  Toronto is improving their position in the standings, and well, the Habs are not.

Carey Price has been terrible in net lately, but interim head coach Bob Gainey wants to stick with him and ride him into the playoffs (if they make it). 

I agree with the methodology of Gainey (that being to establish a No. 1 goalie heading into the playoffs), but it seems the pressure is getting to Price and the team as a whole. 

Meanwhile, Toronto has played much improved hockey after dispersing Nik Antropov and Dominic Moore, and acquiring Martin Gerber.  The effort level is there every game, and Martin Gerber is looking like a No. 1 netminder. 

A week after beating my Flames in a goal-fest 8-6, I can't go against the Maple Leafs on a Saturday night.  Maple Leafs win.

New York Islanders (24-39-8 - 56 pts) @ Ottawa Senators (30-30-10 - 70 pts)

Not much to say about the Islanders, seeing as I don't pay much attention to them.  In fact, only the handful of media members on Long Island are the only writers covering the team.

The Islanders were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs earlier this week whereas the Senators have surged under their new coach. 

New York also has the worst road record in the league (8-25-3), and blew a two-goal third period lead last night in Carolina.  Not much hope for them tonight in my eyes.  Sens win.

Buffalo Sabres @ New York Rangers (37-26-8 - 82 points)

The Rangers have slid down the standings over the last month or so, but the coaching change and addition of Sean Avery has them looking like a playoff team again.

I am going to miss John Tortorella on the TSN Hockey Quiz, but it's nice to see him coaching (and winning) again.  His aggressive personality and style of coaching has subdued Avery up to this point, and it's working wonders for both individuals. 

Avery has been a positive factor in every game since being acquired, and it has led to improved team results. 

Buffalo, however, is slipping at the worst time.  Losers of three straight, (two of which being Ottawa and Atlanta), Buffalo needs to make something happen with only 11 games remaining. 

With six of those games being on the road, they have some serious work if they wish to make the playoffs this year.  New York plays good at home, so I like them tonight.  Rangers win.

Stay tuned for Part II


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