Saturday, March 31, 2007

Saturday Night in the Playoff Race

Fresh off a night in which all three relevant games turned the Leafs way (mostly because it was impossible for Tampa and Carolina to get 0 points) the boys in blue are at home to take on the Penguins. A win tonight is not just vital to the Leafs' playoff hopes but it also helps move the senators closer to home ice advantage in the first round so that when their series with Sid the Kid, Geno, and MAF goes seven they get to break their fans' hearts in person.

An interesting note about the Leafs-Pens season series is that 14 of the 18 goals that the Pens have scored have come on the powerplay. The Leafs' discipline (and the refs attention to Sidney's aerial hijinks) will decide the game. If they stay out of the box and kill what penalties they do get then they should be fine. If the penalties mount then so will the score. Also, the Leafs will be reunited with Gary Roberts who once led them past the senators singlehandedly.

Around the NHL

Atlanta beat Boston 3-2 so the Bruins are officially unable to catch the Leafs for whatever place they finish in. Sorry Sym. Tkachuk, Kovalchuk, and de Vries led the way (anyone else wish Hawerchuk was still in the league and on that line?) for the Thrashers who move closer to winning a great bet over at the Southeast Shootout.

Washington can make up for that 5-1 beating they laid on the Leafs by taking care of the Lightning. Sure it's on the road but it's still the Lightning and they have Ovechkin, Semin, and Kolzig. That's more than enough to win a game in that division. Wishful Prediction: 4-2 Capitals

Philadelphia has played the role of spoiler well this week with a 5-1 thrashing of the Hurricanes and another win over the Rangers would be much appreciated. Martin Biron has until the end of the season to instill hope in his new hometown fans and what better way than to beat the hated team from Gotham. Wishful Prediction: 3-1 Flyers.

After last night's performance in Ottawa (no evidence of it left at Habsblog damn commie censors) the Habs cannot be looking forward to playing an even better and more explosive team in Buffalo. I predict only bad things for the Habs as they either play Halak, whose confidence must be shaken, or Huet,who will just be returning from injury, or Aebischer, who is crap. Wishful Prediction: 7-1 Sabres.

As for those senators, they look to cement their hold on fourth and get their provincial rivals into the playoffs (a cup doesn't count without a series versus the Leafs!) by taking their seemingly unstoppable winning machine (6 regulation losses since Christmas? what was in their stockings?) to Long Island to heap some dirt on the Islanders' playoff hopes. No DiPietro and possibly no Smyth = no hope. 6-3 senators.

Considering the time of day I guess that this will act as the game thread. Sopcast is a good bet for anyone without access to either game whether through the tragedy of living in Ottawa or Hamilton (sorry Sherry, it smells funny). Good luck to both teams. Details on the road hockey elimination death match will be available shortly.


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