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Game Predictions 3/25/2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ottawa vs. Buffalo –  If Buffalo loses this game, they’re pretty much out of playoff contention.  They’re three points behind Boston, one behind Washington, tied with Florida, and one ahead of Toronto.  Losing is not an option.  As for the Senators, forget wheels falling off – they don’t even have the axles any more.  – SABRES

Pittsburgh vs. New Jersey – Big question in this game:  Will Pittsburgh rebound from a sloppy effort against the Islanders?  The season series between these two teams shows that Pittsburgh has the advantage if the scoring is lopsided (won 7-1 in March, 4-2 in January, 5-0 in November); New Jersey has the advantage in tight games (won 4-3 in February, 2-1 and 3-2 in November, 5-4 in October).  All three Pittsburgh goalies have beaten the Devils, but Fleury will get the call tonight.  He was in net for 7-1 rout of the Devils.  – DEVILS

Washington vs. Carolina – Alexander Ovechkin deserves to be the Hart trophy winner.  – CAPITALS

Philadelphia vs. NY Rangers – It’s possible that the Rangers will come out determined to exact revenge for the shootout loss in Philadelphia.  It’s possible that the tight standings will motivate them to outwork the Flyers.  But I think the Flyers want this game more, and that usually determines a winner at this stage of the season.  Marty Biron should be extremely confident based his fantastic play this weekend; Danny Briere and Vinny Prospal are clicking on all cylinders; Mike Richards is an all-star every time he matches up against the Rangers.  It won’t be easy, but the Flyers always put out a good performance at MSG.  – FLYERS

Boston vs. Toronto – This is a tough call.  Boston finally gets Chara back to bolster the blue line, and they lose passer extraordinaire Marc Savard to back pain.  That team is in the playoff hunt because they played consistently solid hockey all season long.  They lost that rhythm when Chara went down, and I don’t think they know how to recapture it.  Really, it comes down to whether Toronto can overcome the pattern of returning to the Air Canada Centre to lose a big game after a successful road trip.  – MAPLE LEAFS

Florida vs. Tampa Bay – PANTHERS

Columbus vs. Nashville – This should be a fantastic game.  Ken Hitchcock once referred to meetings between the two teams as a big brother (Nashville) beating up on a little brother (Columbus).  The Preds have had the advantage throughout the season series, let alone the franchise series.  I’d expect to see Chris Mason (9-1-1 in 11 appearances against Columbus) in net, but Dan Ellis and AHL recall Pekka Rinne could also don the pads.  Bottom line:  Columbus may be playing for pride, but Nashville’s still in the playoff hunt and therefore has the advantage.  – PREDATORS

Detroit vs. St. Louis – RED WINGS

Vancouver vs. Calgary – With a regulation win, Vancouver would tie Calgary for sixth in the conference.  Vancouver leads the season series 4-1, so they’d win the tie-breaker.  Winning would also bring the Canucks back within a point of division leader Minnesota.  All that motivation aside, Jarome Iginla is a perennial MVP candidate because he can single-handedly alter the course of a game.  And his would overtake Minnesota with a win tonight.  FLAMES

San Jose vs. Phoenix – I genuinely thought the youth in Phoenix could muster enough steam to challenge for the final playoff spot, much as we’re seeing Edmonton charge forward.  Clearly that is not going to happen.  And the addition of Brian Campbell, the strong play of Patrick Marleau since the deadline, and the continued scoring from veteran Jeremy Roenick just seems to keep propelling San Jose towards the postseason.  – SHARKS

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