As I wrote earlier today in my Flyers recap, because it’s now November, I’ve split this week’s NHL roundup into two post. Now it’s time for the rest of the league.
My Pick: LA at home over Phoenix; Result: Kings 7 – Coyotes 4
My Pick: Minnesota at home over Chicago; Result: Wild 5 – Blackhawks 3
My Pick: Minnesota on the road in OT over Chicago; Result: Blackhawks 5 – Wild 1
My Pick: Rangers win home opener against Montreal; Result: Canadiens 2 – Rangers 0
2-2 for the week, looks like I got a case of Mondays (had to do it)
Games of the Week:
Tampa Bay Lightning (16 Points) @ Carolina Hurricanes (11 Points); Tonight at 7:00 – Tampa Bay if off to one of the league’s most surprising starts. While the Canes are four games under .500, the team is tied for 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division and wants to maintain this place. My Pick: Tampa Bay
Boston Bruins (16 Points) @ NY Islanders (11 Points); Saturday at 7:00 – Just like Carolina, the Islanders 4-5-3 and are in 2nd place in the Metropolitan. The difference is that they have scored 37 goals, good enough for 4th in the Eastern Conference. Newly acquired forward Thomas Vanek still hasn’t fully meshed into the offense yet, but this should certainly help with that.The Bruins’ defense is just as good as expected. Tuukka Rask (pictured below) is 4th in the NHL in Goals Against Average, just a hundredth of a point behind Antti Niemi of San Jose. These two netminders will be atop this list for the rest of the season and shoe-ins for the Veniza Trophy. My Pick: Boston
Phoenix Coyotes (20 Points) @ San Jose Sharks (22 Points); Tomorrow at 10:30 – Big showdown in the Pacific Division. Neither team was expected to play this well so far, thinking that the Canucks and Kings would be first and second. Phoenix is scrapping out wins, letting up the second most goals in the NHL. San Jose is dominating with Rookie sensation Tomas Hertl and Captain Patrick Marleau each netting eight goals as well as having six players in with at least 10 points. My Pick: San Jose in OT
NY Islanders (11 Points) @ Washington Capitals (10 Points); Tuesday at 7 – The Isles will be still hoping to prove themselves in a division that has been underperforming. Washington wants to show that they can hold off a good offensive team. This is their best chance to do that this week; they face the Flyers tonight and Florida on Saturday. This should be the first game back for captain Alex Ovechkin (upper body injury), who leads the team in goals and points and is only one goal behind St. Louis’ Alexander Steen in the Rocket Richard Trophy chase. My Pick: Washington in a high scoring game
Now that I’ve made my picks, let’s hand out some hardware:
Biggest Surprise: Colorado Avalanche (20 Points, 1st Central Division) – A lot of questions came from Denver going into this season. They have a new coach in legendary goaltender Patrick Roy. No one was really sure who could support Matt Duchene in their offense. Management was hoping it would be #1 Pick Nathan MacKinnon, but were the Sidney Crosby comparisons too much to live up to? Well Roy has been outstanding as a coach and MacKinnon is holding his own. Not to mention the resurgence of Alex Tanguay. And most surprising, the team’s defense has only let up 16 goals in 11 games, anchored by the goalie tandem of Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastian Giguere
Biggest Letdown: Detroit Red Wings (16 Points, T-2nd Atlantic Division) – By tie-breakers, the Red Wings get bumped down to 5th in the Division and would face the Conference Leading Bruins in the playoffs if they started today. I could easily say the Flyers for this, but I’d be extremely biased saying that and I’m already biased enough. See my NFL picks for all three weeks on the blog so far, Eagles winning across the board. But seriously, everyone thought Detroit would run away with the Eastern Conference when the came over this year and they sit 7-4-2 with a -5 goal differential. This is not the powerhouse that throws octopi. Has the clock finally struck midnight for these seemingly ageless wonders? I’m thinking it’s just a slow start, just ask LA.
And Flyers, get it together.