Hockey Survivor Pool Picks for Mar. 12: Sabres, Red Wings, Predators

The Hockey Survivor Pool is down to two, and we came under 30 seconds from a three-way split last week, before the Boston Bruins scored on the Pittsburgh Penguins to keep ezcollectibles and markymark2281 alive. Now they go head-to-head in week 17 of the pool, and hopefully they each have at least one of these best bets available.

 
Buffalo Sabres vs. Ottawa Senators (Sunday, 5:00 Eastern)

It’s officially “must-win” time for the Buffalo Sabres who currently hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. With the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes nipping at their heels, the Sabres have been on a roll of late reeling off a 5-1-2 record in their last eight games.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s “must-lose” time for the 29th-ranked Ottawa Senators, but more points at this stage won’t help their cause in acquiring a top selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in June. While Craig Anderson’s stifling play between the pipes for the Sens have made wins easier to come by, the Sabres lead the season series 4-1 and need to continue beating up on weaker opponents to secure a playoff berth.

Prediction: Sabres win 3-1

 
Detroit Red Wings at St. Louis Blues (Saturday, 8:00 Eastern)

The Detroit Red Wings seem like contenders year after year, while the St. Louis Blues seem like pretenders year after year. The 2010-11 season has been no different and despite suspect goaltending, Nick Lidstrom’s Red Wings are again among the NHL’s elite. Look for the ageless wonder to lead his team to a road victory over the 23rd-ranked St. Louis Blues on Saturday night at the Scottrade Center.

Prediction: Red Wings win 4-2

 
Nashville Predators vs. Colorado Avalanche (Saturday, 8:00 Eastern)

The Nashville Predators could not have picked a worse time to hit a rough patch. Having won just two of their past nine, Nashville has slipped to 10th-place in an extremely tight Western Conference playoff battle. Fortunately for the sputtering Preds, the abysmal Colorado Avalanche come to town on Saturday having won just one of their past 17, posing an ideal opportunity for a turnaround. The Predators have been awful offensively all season, but the Avalanche have been even worse defensively. One of Shea Weber’s signature slap shots could well be the deciding factor in this matchup of slumping squads.

Prediction: Predators win 3-2

Hockey Survivor Pool Picks for Feb. 5: Lightning, Hurricanes, Sabres

Just after we started to make some headway trying to decide the never ending Hockey Survivor Pool, the All-Star break had to hit and bring the pool to a halt. We did lose another entry, former champ lyonn, two weeks ago, and that was the first booting from the pool in three weeks. Now the All-Star game is behind us, we’re back at it this week.

As mentioned a couple weeks ago, our poolies are starting to run out of elite teams to choose from, making some tougher matchups more and more relevant. This is definitely evident in this week’s picks.

 
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. St. Louis Blues (Sunday, 3:00 Eastern)

Tampa Bay is red-hot, currently riding a six game winning streak. They’re also sporting a solid 17-4-2 home record. St. Louis, on the other hand, would actually probably be in the playoff picture if they could manage to play .500 hockey on the road. The Blues are 15-8-3 at home, but sit at 7-12-4 on the road.

This is my favourite pick this week, and of our remaining contestants, only JoePoolGuy used Tampa Bay already.

Prediction: 5-3 Lightning

 
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Atlanta Thrashers (Saturday, 7:00)

Carolina is simply too good, and too battle-tested, to not make the playoffs. If they’re going to make the playoffs however, it’s likely they will need to leapfrog their Southeast Division rivals, the Atlanta Thrashers. Carolina currently sits one point back of Atlanta, but the ‘Canes have a pair of games in hand.

With so many of the ‘Canes players having won a Stanley Cup together, you can bet this group will recognize the importance of Saturday’s tilt in Raleigh. Add to this the fact that the Thrashers have won just two of their last ten, plus the ‘Canes have won both meetings between the two this year. It’s a strong bet that Carolina will find itself sitting in a playoff position come Sunday morning.

Of interest for our poolies, JoePoolGuy was left out from the Tampa Bay pick, but is our only entry that can still pick Carolina. Bring it home, JPG!

Prediction: 4-1 Hurricanes

 
Buffalo Sabres vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (Saturday, 7:00)

The Buffalo Sabres have very quietly won seven of their last ten, and moved themselves into a great spot to make a playoff push. They sit six points back of Atlanta for the eighth and final playoff spot, but currently have four games in hand on the Thrashers.

It won’t be easy for the Sabres down the stretch, as they will have to do without arguably their best forward in Derek Roy, but Sabres fans can take some solace in the fact that Buffalo is 2-0 against the Leafs this season.

All four of our remaining poolies can pick Buffalo. Perhaps the choices aren’t that tough just yet, but we’ll know for sure after Saturday.

Prediction: 3-1 Sabres

More Hockey Survivor Pool Picks for Jan. 22: Capitals, Canucks, Sabres

We’re getting to a bit of an interesting point in our Hockey Survivor Pool. One of the first games that jumped out at me this week was the Flyers vs. Devils matchup on Saturday night. Unfortunately, none of our remaining poolies have Philly at their disposal. In fact, only one of our survivors (ezcollectibles) even has the option of taking my favourite matchup this week, the Canucks hosting the Flames!

Not to worry though, all five survivors have the Sabres at their disposal, and JoePoolGuy and lyonn can also turn to the Capitals.

 
Vancouver Canucks vs. Calgary Flames (Saturday, 10:00 Eastern)

Lost in the Flames’ disappointing record this season is the fact that they’re actually playing better than .500 hockey at home. Unfortunately for them, they are a terrible road team, posting a 9-12-5 record away from the Saddledome. Even more unfortunate for the Flames is the fact that the Canucks are a ridiculous 15-3-3 on home ice.

When you take into account all the NHL team payrolls and the state of their respective farm systems, it’s hard to argue there is an NHL team in worse overall shape than the Calgary Flames. I can’t help but hope that Jarome Iginla gets dealt to a contender, because there isn’t a guy in the game who deserves to win more than Iggy.

Prediction: Canucks win 4-1

 
Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs (Saturday, 7:00)

Toronto’s actually a respectable 5-4-1 in their last ten, and the Capitals are a very pedestrian 9-9-3 on the road. Ovechkin loves the original six matchups and the big atmosphere buildings though, and the Leafs just got handed a 7-0 thumping at the hands of the Rangers. It’s not too late to call James Reimer back up, is it?

Prediction: Capitals win 5-2

 
Buffalo Sabres at New York Islanders (Sunday, 3:00)

Buffalo started the season off on the wrong foot, but has slowly worked themselves back to .500 and into playoff contention. The Sabres are 6-3-1 in their last ten, and their resurgence has oddly enough come after Derek Roy was lost to injury.

The Islanders, on the other hand, currently hold the distinction of being the only NHL team currently using two goalies I had never heard of prior to this season. Dwayne Roloson was just shipped out of town, and Rick DiPietro’s latest injury woes have left the Islanders with Kevin Poulin and Nathan Lawson to man the crease. Maybe Islanders owner Charles Wang can convince Garth Snow to come out of retirement.

Prediction: Sabres win 3-2