HNIC Preview - March 10th
Friday, March 9, 2018
Hockey Night in Canada
Pittsburgh Penguins @ Toronto Maples Leafs
Will we have a 3-peat? It is very unlikely, but the Pittsburgh Penguins are on a roll right now. They are literally playing like Stanley Cup contenders. They are now rated 5th on the NHL Super 16 Power Rankings list. The Pens are the NHL’s version of the New England Patriots. Every time someone gets hurt, another player comes in and fills his shoes. They also have one of the best player of all-time running their team. Pittsburgh started the year slow and had to overcome a lot of injuries or complicated situation, like Matt Murray’s leave of absence to be with is family when his dad passed. The power-play, run by HOF Mike Recchi, has been lights out and sits atop the NHL and it’s not even close. The Pens’ man advantage is a god 2 % better than its closest rival, the Winnipeg Jets. Saturday’s matchup could preview a great playoff matchup, but the Penguins are firing on all-cylinders right now and look difficult to stop. It’s gonna be a close one.
Toronto Maple Leafs
After losing their 4th game in a row against the lowly Buffalo Sabres, Leafs’ head coach Mike Babcock wasn’t very friendly towards his players’ effort. Last time they met, Toronto fell flat on their face in the 3rd period surrendering two goals. The Buds’ will have to be very discipline and avoid the penalty box at all cost. The Pens’ PP is just too dangerous for Toronto to spend time in the sinbin. Toronto’s forward should also focus on neutral coverage and stay discipline din their assignment and puck management. Those two aspects of the game caused the team headaches in their last games. Obviously, effort was their ultimate downfall, but I expect the young Leafs to bounce back with an inspired performance on Saturday. Especially since they enjoyed a 4-day break. If their timing isn’t affected too much by the time spent away from the rink, this game will go the distance and should be very entertaining.
Minnesota Wild @ Edmonton Oilers
The Minnesota Wild is battling for a playoff spot right now and are playing real good desperate hockey. With only 3 points on the Dallas Stars, nothing is clinched yet. Forward, Eric Staal looks like a kid again and seems like he is having fun on the ice with the younger players on the Wild’s roster. With 36 goals and 31 assists, some experts are arguing that Eric Staal should be considered for this season’s MVP race. The Wild must win on Saturday to gain some ground on its divisional rivals. The oilers aren’t an easy prey, but it should be 2 points for the Wild.
Edmonton’s abysmal season is close to be over and fans can’t wait for the draft. Especially with the talented group of defensemen available in the top 10. Connor McDavid is still working some miracles sometimes, stealing games by himself or setting up teammates to give his team the slightest chance of winning. Unfortunately, McJesus’ efforts are often in vain. Edmonton still has a bit of fight left in them, but it won’t do them any good. Minnesota is a speedy team with offensively active defensemen. The wild’s pace of play will surely give the Oilers a difficult time. Cam Talbot will be tested with close range plays and big bodies in front of him. Even if this matchup lacks a bit of attractiveness, it could turn out to be really fun to watch.