Matt Duchene USA Today


Marty sets the table for the second to last Saturday of NHL action for 2013.

 

We didn't do too shabby in our second to last week with the selections (going five for six). Still room for improvement, though.


Unfortunately Anthony couldn’t sustain his amazing pace and got roughed up pretty badly only able to hang his hat on a Pens victory over the Panthers. I will plead Angus again to get rid of that ridiculous Photoshop of Nazem Kadri for this column. I would much prefer Matt Duchene (editor: ask and you shall receieve).

 


Speaking of Duchene, what a terrific year this kid has had and all of the different improvements he’s made to his game, not to mention he’s become a leader in the locker room without having a letter stitched on his jersey. Did you know that as of last night Duchene is the only player in the league with at least 15 goals, 40 hits, and 40 blocked shots on the season. What a complete player, the kid can do it all! Yes, I’m an Avalanche fan and other than him and Parenteau I haven’t had much to cheer about this season. Enough of the pity party let’s get back to the topic at hand. Thanks to last week I’m rolling into the final week at 56% on the season, so let’s make sure we finish on a high note.


On to the action:

 

Islanders @ Jets

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool

 

Heading into Thursday night action, the Islanders are rolling right now going 6-0-2 in their last eight games, surrendering only 11 goals against. The team is 6-1-1 in their last eight road games, allowing no more than three goals in each of those contests. As it stands the Isles have come into Toronto and skated to a 4-2 2nd intermission lead on the strength of outshooting the leafs 34-10! The Isles look to be on the verge of securing a playoff spot and will pull themselves within two points of the 5th place Maple Leafs.

 

The Jets are on the outside looking in and, after losing five straight, have reeled off four wins in a row (all at home) scoring 18 goals while killing off all nine penalties. Captain Andrew Ladd has lead the way with twelve points during a six game point streak. Update: Some numbers to beef up Angus’ Andrew Ladd shout out Friday morning, the Jets are 19-10-0 when he registers a point and 9-2 when he scores two points or more, including eight straight wins.

 

My Pick: V

Thunder’s Pick: H

 

Flyers @ Hurricanes

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool

 

If the Flyers want to make the postseason they need to win out and get a lot of help from both Florida and New Jersey, as both teams face the 8th place Rangers twice before the end of the year. Philly’s offense has awoken, scoring 11 goals in their last two games. Claude Giroux has managed five points in those two games, but it has been a real coming out party for Jakub Voracek this season who has lived up to and exceeded expectations with a team leading 19 goals and 43 points in 43 games played.

 

The Hurricanes come into this matchup with their season in shambles, not only is the team 1-8-0 in their past nine games, while being outscored 37-17, but hopefully the team shuts down Jeff Skinner after being laid out by Jared Cowen instead of trying to have him return for a couple of meaningless games at the end of the season. The Hurricanes are 27th in the NHL in winning percentage after gaining a first period lead at .636.

 

My Pick: V+

Thunder’s Pick: V

Maple Leafs @ Senators

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool

 

The Maple Leafs were rolling after their terrific play in Saturday’s thumping of Montreal, but how quickly the tables have turned as they ran into the white-hot Capitals on Tuesday night before allowing five unanswered goals (and counting) against the Islanders Thursday night. Nazem Kadri has managed two points in his last seven (soon to be eight) games.

 

Jared Cowen made quite the impact in his return to the Sens lineup by knocking out Jeff Skinner, and then fighting Chad LaRose after he came to stick up for Cowen (it’s the least LaRose could do after his suicide pass put Skinner in Cowen’s trolley tracks). The Sens are 4-1 in their last five games at home and have killed off 16 of 18 penalties. Craig Anderson has looked solid since returning from an ankle injury going 2-2-0 with a 1.77 goals against average and a .935 save percentage.

 

My Pick: H

Thunder’s Pick: V


 

Sabres @ Penguins

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool

 

Sabres 


The Sabres are still hanging around the playoff hunt with four games remaining despite having the worst special teams in the NHL. Their combined power play and penalty kill percentage is 91.3, with 100 being average (Philadelphia leads the league with 107.5; 22.9 on the power play and 84.6 on the penalty kill). Before they roll into Pittsburgh they have a huge home game against the Rangers, whom they are chasing for the eighth and final spot.

 

The Penguins are healing up one at a time, just in time for the post season. Newcomers Jarome Iginla and Brendan Morrow looked good against the Habs Wednesday night. The Pens (along with the Rangers and Blue Jackets) are the only teams in the league to have a perfect record when leading after 40 minutes.  The Pens dropped a 4-1 decision to the Sabres at home at the start of April, however Thomas Vokoun was in net to surrender four goals in 23 minutes, meanwhile Fleury has posted a 12-4-2 mark in his career against Buffalo. Oh, and also have a look at Ryan Miller’s sweet numbers over the last three years versus the Pens, yikes!

 

My Pick: T (Penguins win in a shootout)

Thunder’s Pick: V

 

Coyotes @ Blackhawks

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool

 

The Coyotes just can’t seem to put the puck in the net, as they’ve been shutout out twice in their last four games. Not the kind of production you’re looking for when your battling for a playoff spot. Their power play has only managed one goal in their last 11 opportunities on the road (four games). Mike Smith has only managed one win in his past seven starts on the road despite posting a 2.17 goals against average and .925 save percentage.

 

The Hawks have everything wrapped up except the President’s Trophy. They have won six straight and are 7-0-1 in April. Before they face the Coyotes they’ll look to beat the visiting Predators for the fourth time in 19 days the night before. Ray Emery is 16-1-0, 1.91 GAA, and .923 save %. Corey Crawford is 17-4-4, 1.92 GAA, and .926 save %. Pick your poison.

 

My Pick: H

Thunder’s Pick: H

 

Red Wings @ Canucks

By the Numbers – Frozen Pool

 

Here’s hoping Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard has a very short-term memory and has already forgotten how he gave Steve Begin and the Calgary Flames a victory Wednesday night. That loss coupled with Columbus’ win pushes the Wings out of the playoff picture for the moment. Nothing like getting bounced from the playoffs for the first time in 22 years by the Columbus Blue Jackets before you head over to the Eastern Conference. The Red Wings are the worst team in the league at holding a lead after one period of play, with a win percentage of .583. Detroit has only managed victories against the two worst teams in the Western Conference, Colorado (twice) and Nashville, in the month of April.

 

The Canucks look to all but lock up the number three seed in the west and the Northwest Division crown when they host the Wings on Saturday night. Derek Roy has been a welcomed addition to the Canucks who look to make another run deep into the playoffs with a healthy Ryan Kesler (11 points in 12 games this season) on board as well. Henrik Sedin has a four game assist streak going heading into late Thursday night action. Alex Burrows leads the team in scoring with 13 goals - he continues to be a very valuable (and underrated) offensive contributor in all pool formats.

 

My Pick: T (Canucks win in shootout)

Thunder’s Pick: V



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