Game Predictions 4/2/2008
Boston vs. New Jersey – This is the only non-divisional matchup of the last week in the regular season. These teams could not be more similar at present – both run a defense-oriented system, winning by committee and good goaltending, and both need a win to solidify their playoff hopes.
New Jersey has clinched a spot, but they are only 2 points ahead of the New York Rangers. With the trouble they’ve had against their metropolitan rivals, the Devils would like to hang on to home-ice advantage; it’s all about line matching when your checking line features John Madden.
Boston has the momentum, but Brodeur is head and shoulders above Thomas in net. – DEVILS
Tampa Bay vs. Carolina – People dismiss the Southeast Division as a weak group overall, but this should be a tough game. Jeff Halpern, Jussi Jokinen, and Alexandre Picard seem to reinvigorated the Lightning since the trade deadline. They are not going softly into summertime. I’d also expect Carolina to bounce back energetically following their loss to Washington last night. Peter Laviolette was turning purple while screaming from the bench during the game. – HURRICANES
Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh – No two ways about it – the Penguins are a bonafide powerhouse. I won’t say too much by way of preview (an in-depth look from Bill Meltzer available here for those who really want the skinny). Let’s just say that regardless of what the pundits are spewing this week, the Flyers perform their best when they’re backed into a corner. And they 4 out of a possible 6 points if they want to be in the playoffs. – FLYERS
Detroit vs. Chicago – Mike Babcock mentioned in an NHL conference call the other day that anyone who thought Detroit had an advantage in the standings because they play against a weak division was “stupid.” The Red Wings are only 15-11-3 against the Central Division – not a runaway season by any standards. Chicago dominated the Red Wings in the first half of the season, partially because of outstanding play from line with Kane, Toews, and Sharp. It won’t be an easy for either team. – BLACKHAWKS