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