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Game Predictions 3/8/2008

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Washington vs. Boston – This should be an interesting matinee – a rematch of Monday’s game where the Caps left the ice with a 10-2 victory over the Bruins.  There are two things to consider: systems and emotions.  Bruce Boudreau has his team running on pure offense; the d-men play high in the neutral zone and push for poke checks while Ovechkin hangs out at the blueline waiting for a pass.  On the other bench, Claude Julien rallies his star-less bunch to execute a pure trap.  Lately, though, Boston was winning with high octane offense, drifting away from solid defensive coverage.  Should they return to the trap, it’ll be interesting to see whether the Capitals youth movement can break apart the defense with their speed, passing, and sharp-shooting.

Emotions are riding high for both clus.  Boston fell from grace this week with 3 straight losses.  They’re clinging to the 7th spot in the Eastern Conference by one point over Philadelphia, who also plays this evening.  Washington meanwhile followed its 10-2 victory with a win over Buffalo – the only team in the East the Caps hadn’t beaten at least once this year.  Will the Caps come out overly confident?  Will Boston rally itself to overcome their horrendous week?  Puck drops in less than one hour.  – CAPITALS 

Dallas vs. Colorado – If the playoffs began today, this would be a Round 1 matchup.  Peter Forsberg has looked a bit rusty in his first games for the Avalanche.  It’s not that he can’t skate.  He simply doesn’t have his trademark fire and edge on the ice.  But then, Forsberg is built for the playoffs.  – STARS

Montreal vs. Los Angeles – The Kings are playing the spoilers very well, but I believe that this Montreal team is the real deal.  – CANADIENS

New Jersey vs. Toronto – Maple Leafs hopefuls (shall we say the Deluded Nation?) believe that a win over the Devils would give the blue and white a bonafide shot at the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.  And that a win is entirely achievable.  You know, it’s funny – I thought Canadians understood hockey.  And yet they seem to doubt Martin Brodeur . . . .  – DEVILS

NY Islanders vs. PhiladelphiaWade Dubielewicz is a backup custom built for the Maple Leafs.  Just like that team, he comes alive after the trade deadline when the playoff chasm seems impossible to cross.  At the other end, the injured Mike Richards carried his team for much of the year; can Marty Biron finish the journey?  It’s time for him to prove he’s the real number one.  – FLYERS

Buffalo vs. Carolina – I know I’m a Flyers fan, and therefore biased.  But Aaron Voros deserves to be suspended 1-2 games for this hit on Eric Staal

I’d also like to point out that Erik Cole received multiple penalties for coming to Staal’s defense: 5 minutes for fighting, 2 minutes for instigation, 2 minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, and a 10 minute misconduct.  There has to be room for the Code in the game of hockey, and I for one don’t see a better time to execute it than when the best player on a team missing Rod Brind’amour and Justin Williams receives a brutal headshot from behind.  Fortunately, Staal wasn’t injured in the play and will be in the lineup for tonight’s game.  – SABRES

Atlanta vs. Florida – Spoiler vs. Spoiler.  Mano a mano.  – PANTHERS

Ottawa vs. PhoenixAccording to James Mirtle’s reckoning, Ottawa must achieve a record of 5-7-1 to make the playoffs.  Their last games are dominated by interdivisional games with the powerhouse Canadiens and teams battling for the playoffs – Sabres, Bruins, and Maple Leafs.  As of today, I’m predicting the Senators fall out of playoff contention before season end.  – COYOTES

St. Louis vs. Vancouver – The team that can’t win against the team that can’t score.  Should be exciting hockey . . . note the sarcasm.  – CANUCKS

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