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Piitsburgh Penguins Need to Show their Mettle

February 11, 2011 By: Category: NHL, Sports

Sidney Crosby is out with a concussionLosing the precious services of Sidney Crosby would be a big enough blow to any NHL franchise, but losing Crosby indefinitely with a concussion and having to deal with Evgeni Malkin missing for the next six months due to a severe knee injury is a setback that would surely leave any club believing they are destined not to reach the playoffs this season.

With Malkin widely regarded as the stand out performer in the 2009 playoffs, the Penguins know that they will be missing a man who has not only shown he can light up the Eastern Conference but can also make a huge difference when players step up to another level in the playoffs and anyone looking to place an ice hockey bet should remember this.

Despite this, the Penguins need to keep up the frantic pace that has seen them stay second in a hugely competitive Atlantic division, whilst picking up a stellar record on the road that has seen them make up to some extent for a slightly disappointing home record. However, should the Penguins fail to continue to pick up the points required to make the playoffs, their fantastic recent post season record will be in tatters and the franchise will have to start thinking about whether or not they really have the strength in depth to compete in such a competitive division.

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With Crosby’s return date changing all the time, and with Malkin now out for the rest of the season, the Penguins will need their fans to raise their noise levels and start making sure that those players who have been recalled to the Penguins’ roster are able to adapt as quickly as possible to the way the team plays. Should this fail to happen, the Penguins will know that they face their franchise missing out on a great chance to continue to exert its dominance on the NHL.

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Fantasy Hockey Rankings – NHL Centers for 2010-2011

September 27, 2010 By: Category: Fantasy Hockey, NHL, Sports

Sidney Crosby is the number one fantasy hockey center this season.In fantasy hockey, the most abundant position on the ice is the center. The drawback of this fact tends to be that the center position is usually assist heavy and lacking on goals. With the entry of the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and recently Nicklas Backstorm and Henrik Sedin, the position has morphed into one that is a threat on both the goal and assists columns.

These players, and other budding NHL stars, have transformed the position and given it more relevance in recent years. Therefore, I present the following lists to provide helpful advice to win your pool with the top 10 centers in the game, risers, fallers, a look at the sophomores, and rookies to watch in the upcoming season.

# 1 – Sidney Crosby, Penguins
• 2009-2010: 81 GP, 51 G, 58 A 109 Pts (34 PPP)
• 3 year average : 71 GP 36 G 59 A, 95 Pts (34 PPP)
• 2010-2011 proj.: 82 GP, 46 G, 68 A, 114 Pts (34 PPP)
Sid “the Kid” Crosby has been a dominant force in the NHL since he entered the league back in 2005-2006, when he scored 102 points in his rookie year. That year, he was beat out by constant rival Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.

Early in his career, Crosby was considered an assist machine, but in 2009-2010, he ramped up the production of lighting the red lamp, notching a career high 51 goals and totaled his second best career mark in points with 109. Crosby is the model of durability, missing no less than 77 games in four of his five seasons in the league. For 2010-2011, look for more of the same elite production as the Penguins are poised to compete at a high level once again in the Steel City.

Crosby is one of those players that not only excels himself, but also makes those around him valuable as well. The likes of Matt Cooke, Pascal Dupuis, and Chris Kunitz could all see time lining up with Crosby throughout the season. With the man advantage, Crosby will mostly likely be the pivot alongside Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin, Paul Martin, and Jordan Staal.

# 2 – Evgeni Malkin, Penguins
• 2009-2010: 67 GP, 28 G 49 A 77 Pts. (28 PPP)
• 3 year average: 77 GP, 37 G, 62 A, 111 Pts. (37 PPP)
• 2010-2011 proj.: 82 GP, 35 G, 64 A, 109 Pts. (36 PPP)

Evgeni Malkin, or “Geno”, to his teammates and fans, is another premium talent that graces the ice in the Steel City. Malkin has been the model of consistency throughout his tenure with the Penguins and 2010-2011 should not be any different. Malkin missed 15 games last season and played through a number of ailments that plagued his production throughout 2009-2010. Recent news suggest that Malkin could be shifted to a wing position, but that is dependent on the health of centerman Jordan Staal.

If he in fact does change positions, it could be a spark that could reignite his scoring touch, leaving the 2009-2010 season a distant memory. Malkin should rebound back to his normal production after an off year last year, at least for the likes of the talented forward. If he remains at center, Malkin will most likely skate with Dupuis, Cooke, and maybe even rookie Eric Tangradi at times. Malkin is fully entrenched into the top power play unit as well.

# 3 – Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals
• 2009-2010: 82 GP, 33 G, 68 A, 101 Pts (37 PPP)
• 3 year average: 82 GP, 23 G, 63 A, 86 Pts (35 PPP)
• 2010-2011 proj.: 82 GP, 37 G, 72 A, 103 Pts (36 PPP)

Nicklas Backstrom has one of the best gigs in the National Hockey League – he gets to play on the same line with one of the best in the game, left wing Alexander Ovechkin. For the early part of his career, Backstrom was an assist machine thanks to Ovechkin. Last year, something happened that upped the ante for Backstrom – he began to score goals. He scored 33 goals for the Capitals last season, setting a career high and raising expectations even higher for the young Swede.

If Backstrom can continue to improve his scoring touch, he will become a perennial top scorer that should threaten the 100 point barrier each year. Backstrom also skates with rugged veteran Mike Knuble and is gifted with supreme play-making ability. On the man advantage, look for Backstrom to skate on the top unit with Ovechkin, Knuble, Alexander Semin, and Mike Green.

# 4 – Steven Stamkos, Lightning
• 2009-2010: 82 GP, 51 G, 44 A, 95 Pts (41 PPP)
• 2 year average: 81 G, 37 G, 34 A, 71 Pts (29 PPP)
• 2010-2011 proj.: 82 G, 40 G, 53 A, 93 Pts (36 PPP)

Stamkos was heralded as one of the top young players to come to the NHL before his rookie year in 2009-2010. In his first season with the Lightning, he started off slow but eventually caught fire and finished strong, tallying 19 points in the last 20 games. Noone could have expected the season that Stamkos had in 2010-2011. Stamkos took the momentum from the last 20 games of his rookie season and tripled it in his sophomore season, scoring 51 goals on the season.

Stamkos was at least a point per game or more player for every month in 2010-2011, with the exception of December, when he scored just 8 points in 15 games. Temper expectations in year three, but there is no doubt that Stamkos will be one of the top centers in the league. He regularly skated with superstar veteran Martin St. Louis and the gritty Steve Downie on most nights. On the man advantage, look for Stamkos to skate with St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier (baring injury), Pavel Kubina, and newcomer and former Flyer Simon Gagne.

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# 5 – Henrik Sedin, Canucks
• 2009-2010: 82 GP, 29 G, 83 A, 112 Pts (27 PPP)
• 3 year average: 82 GP, 22 G, 68 A, 90 Pts (27 PPP)
• 2010-2011: 82 GP, 33 G, 67 A, 100 Pts (30 PPP)

If it was considered that Sedin had a career year in 2009-2010, it would be considered an understatement. Sedin set career highs in goals (29), assists (83), points (112), and shots (166) en route to the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player, impressively beating out Ovechkin and Crosby. Sedin is firmly entrenched alongside his twin brother Daniel and right winger Mikhael Samuelsson, who benefited from skating with the Sedin twins by scoring a career high 30 goals himself. Sedin began the season by scoring 28 points in 26 games, maintaining his point-per-game pace.

Over December and January, Sedin vaulted himself toward the top of the leaderboards, scoring an amazing 50 points (11 G, 39 A) in December and January. Sedin surged the Canucks to the playoffs in March, scoring 24 points (4 G, 20 A) in 15 games. Just as he is a fixture on the top line in Vancouver, he is also a fixture on the power play, where he is joined by his brother Daniel, Samuelsson, fellow center Ryan Kesler, and defenseman Chrsitian Ehrhoff.

# 6 – Anze Kopitar, Kings
• 2009-2010: 82 GP, 34 G, 47 A, 81 Pts (38 PPP)
• 3 year average: 82 GP, 31 G, 44 A, 75 Pts (32 PP)
• 2010-2011: 82 GP, 36 G, 52 A, 88 Pts (36 PPP)

Kopitar has quietly crafted a name for himself in Los Angeles, producing at least 25 goals and 60 points in the past three seasons. Last season, Kopitar started off hot, registering 21 points (10 G, 11 A) in just fourteen games. He followed that up with a respectable November (12 pts, 4 G , 8 A). He did bottom out in December, posting just 6 points (2 G, 4 A) in 14 games.

In January, he picked his production back up his production and remained a good source for points for the rest of the season. Kopitar skates on the first unit with left wing Ryan Smyth and right wing Dustin Brown. He is also part of a Kings power play unit that ranked seventh in the NHL, executing 20.8 % of opportunities. He is joined on the man advantage by Brown, defenseman Drew Doughty, fellow center Jarret Stoll and Smyth. Look for a continued progression toward the 90 point mark in 2010-2011 from Kopitar.

# 7 – Jonathan Toews, Blachhawks
• 2009-2010: 76 GP, 25 G, 43 A, 68 Pts (22 PPP)
• 3 year average: 74 GP, 28 G, 36 A, 64 Pts (24 PPP)
• 2010-11: 82 GP, 31 G, 52 A, 83 Pts (32 PPP)
Toews has slowly evolved into one of the elite young centers in the NHL and his legend was cemented last season as he led the Blackhawks to their first Stanley Cup championship since Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull hoisted the Cup in the 1960-61 season. The Blackhawks have recently re-emerged in relevance in the Windy City thanks to the performance of Toews and linemate Patrick Kane. Toews has progressed rather well in his first three seasons in the NHL and look for him to break through the 80-point plateau in 2010-2011.

In 2009-2010, Toews started out well, collecting 15 points in 19 games.. His best month was December, when he scored 18 points in 15 games, including seven on the power play. Toews is the focal point of the offense, as he skates with Kane and left wing Patrick Sharp. On the man advantage, he is joined by Kane, Sharp, right wing Marian Hossa, and defenseman Duncan Keith.

# 8 – Eric Staal, Hurricanes
• 2009-2010: 70 GP, 29 G, 41 A, 70 Pts (23 PPP)
• 3 year average: 78 GP, 36 G, 40 A, 76 Pts (28 PPP)
• 2010-2011 proj: 82 GP, 42 G, 45 A, 87 Pts (37 PPP)

Staal continues to be a great source of point production along Tobacco road despite the limitations of his Hurricane linemates. Last season, left wing Jussi Jokinen broke through with a 30 goal season to give Staal someone to look for to set up goals in front of the net. Staal himself has been a constant threat to score as well, scoring at least 25 goals and 35 assists since his break out 2005-2006 campaign when he netted 45 goals and added 55 points.

Staal did miss 12 games last season with an upper body injury, but that is a mere aberration. Staal was considered an bastion of durability, having missed only 13 games through six years in the league. Look for Staal to skate with left wing Erik Cole and right wing Tuomo Ruutu on most nights. On the man advantage, Staal lines up with Jokinen, Ruutu, Cole, and defenseman Joni Pitkanen.

# 9 – Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings
• 2009-2010: 82 GP, 31 G, 66 A, 97 Pts (40 PPP)
• 3 year average: 81 GP, 30 G, 58 A, 88 Pts (34 PPP)
• 2010-2011: 82 GP, 32 G, 57 A, 89 Pts (38 PPP)

Datsyuk had a down year in 2010-2011, but it should not overshadow what he is capable of doing as a center. The debate continues to rage in MoTown, however, as to whether Datsyuk and teammate Henrik Zetterberg should skate on the same line. The consensus is that it would be a boon for the two players to skate on the same line for fantasy purposes; in a hockey strategy sense, however, it may not serve the purpose of the Red Wings as they attempt to spread out the offense.

Don’t look for any rough stuff from Datsyuk, as he has average just 19.6 PIMs throughout his eight year career. Datsyuk’s points were down last season, as the Detroit offense was down on a whole, ranked just 14th overall with 2.72 goals per game. Although the powerplay still ranked in the top 10, Datsyuk’s line was not up to par, as he only contributed just 25 points with the man advantage. If the Detroit brass choose to skate Datsyuk and Zetterberg together, look for right wing Tomas Holmstrom to crash the net often for Datsyuk. Datsyuk and Zetterberg will be together on the man advantage, joined by stalwart defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom on the point and Holmstrom and right wing Todd Bertuzzi.

# 10 – Joe Thornton, Sharks
• 2009-2010: 79 GP, 20 G, 69 A, 89 Pts (29 PPP)
• 3 year average: 81 GP, 25 G, 66 A, 89 Pts (34 PPP)
• 2010-2011: 82 GP, 23 G, 64 A, 87 Pts (32 PPP)

Joe Thornton slips on this list for only one reason – goal scoring. Traditionally, it is not considered the job for the center to score all the goals. The best centers, however, tend to score upwards of 25-35 goals a season. In the past 3 seasons, Thornton has seen his goal production slip from 29 in 2007-2008, to 25 in 2008-2009, to a mere 20 in 2009-2010. Thornton continues to be a boon for assists, however, having achieved the 60 mark in helpers since arriving in San Jose in 2005-2006 season.

Throughout his tenure with the Sharks, however, he hasn’t necessarily been a focal point of the goal scoring. Teammates Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley tend to help Thornton’s assist total to stay robust. Thornton is the main play maker with the man advantage as well, usually skating with Heatley, Marleau, defenseman Dan Boyle and either wingers Devin Setoguchi or Joe Pavelski.

RISERS

1. Ryan Kesler, Canucks (’09-’10: 25 G, 50 A, 75 Pts) – Kesler has grown into his role as the second line center in Vancouver. He also has shown a fiesty side to his game, amassing 104 penalty minutes last season. Look for Kesler to continue to skate among the top six in Vancouver and improve upon his 26 points with the man advantage in his march to 80 points in 2010-2011.
Projection: 32 G, 44 A, 76 Pts (28 PPP).
2. Mikko Koivu, Wild (’09-’10: 22 G, 49 A, 71 Pts) - Being the top center in Minnesota, Koivu has depended on the development of his teammates. In 2007-08, Koivu only had 11 goals, but accounted for 31 assists skating mostly with Marion Gaborik. When Gaborik left, the Wild acquired left wing Guillame Latendresse early in the season and the two found chemistry. A full season with Latendresse could lead to Koivu producing more than 80 points for the first time in his career.
Projection: 26 G, 52 A, 78 Pts (30 PPP).

3. Travis Zajac, Devils (’09-’10: 25 G, 42 A, 67 Pts) - Zajac has become a dependable source of points over the past two seasons. Since 2008-2009, he totaled 62 and 67 points respectively. With recent news that the Devils want to try sniper Ilya Kovalchuk at right wing, the Devils have the makings of a potent top line with the inclusion of Zach Parise. If the line of Kovalchuk, Parise, and Zajac can stick, Zajac’s numbers could rise north of the 80 point mark in the new season.
Projection: 28 G, 58 A, 86 Pts (31 PPP).

FALLERS

1. Jason Arnott, Devils (’09-’10: 19 G, 27 A, 46 Pts) - Arnott was traded over the summer from Nashville back to where he had much success in the Meadowlands with the Devils. The reunion in New Jersey however will come with a reduced role where the team will rely more on intangibles than production for the aging and injury-prone forward. Projection: 18 G, 28 A, 46 Pts.
2. Chris Drury, Rangers (’09-’10: 14 G, 18 A, 32 Pts) - Drury, the Rangers captain, was hampered with injuries and ineffectiveness through the 2009-2010 campaign. A broken left index finger suffered in camp blocking a shot will put the captain out four weeks. Look for a second line role, but the offense will struggle to score, making the 35 year old a risky investment.
Projection: 17 G, 25 A, 42 Pts.

3. Saku Koivu, Ducks (’09-’10: 19 G, 33 A, 52 Pts) - How can a 50 point scorer be considered falling? Koivu is not getting any younger and the news of Bobby Ryan possibly being moved to second line center will push the 36 year old to the third line with much more inferior linemates. Look for the goal totals to stay about the same, but the assists to drop tremendously should the Ryan experiment work.
Projection: 17 G, 27 A, 44 Pts.

SOPHOMORES – SHINE OR SLUMP?

1. Tyler Bozak, Maple Leafs (’09-’10: 37 GP, 8 G, 19 A, 27 Pts) - Bozak comes into his first full season with high expectations, as he will look to build on his 27 point effort in 37 games as a rookie. In 2010-2011, Bozak is expected to center the top line alongside left wing Nikolai Kulemin and right wing Phil Kessel.
Projections: 24 G, 41 A, 65 Pts (22 PPP).

2. Matt Duchene, Avalanche (’09-’10: 24 G, 31 A, 55 Pts) - Duchene started slow in his rookie season, with just 14 points in his first 28 games. In December, Duchene established himself as a regular contributor with 13 points (5 G, 8 A) in 14 games. Duchene will center the second line with veteran Milan Hejduk and either fellow sophomores Brandon Yip or Ryan Stoa.
Projection: 26 G, 45 A, 71 Pts (24 PPP).
3. John Tavares, Islanders (’09-’10: 24 G, 30 A, 54 Pts) - Tavares came into 2009-2010 with well deserved high praise, and delivered early with 21 points in 27 games in October and November. Tavares only recorded one point in February, but he finished strong with 20 points in 20 games. Tavares will skate with left wing Matt Moulson and right wing Kyle Okposo.
Projection: 30 G, 42 A, 72 Pts (28 PPP).

ROOKIE WATCH

1. Mikael Backlund, Flames (’09-’10: 54 GP, 15 G, 17 A, 32 Pts in AHL; 23 GP, 1 G, 9 A, 10 Pts in NHL) - Backlund had an extended look in 2009-2010, appearing in 23 games for the Flames, scoring a goal and nine assists playing on the bottom two lines. Backlund is expected to garner more playing time in 2010-2011 and expand his role with Calgary. He could push Ollie Jokinen for the spot on the top line alongside Jarome Iginla.
Projection: 82 GP, 15 G, 38 A, 53 Pts.

2. Jordan Eberle, Oilers (’09-’10: 57 GP, 50 G, 56 A, 106 Pts in WHL; 11 GP, 6 G, 8 A, 14 Pts in AHL) - With the press that Taylor Hall and Magnus Paajarvi have received this offseason, Eberle could be the Oiler rookie to make the biggest impression. Eberle is expected to skate with Hall and Paajarvi, so it could be a learning curve for all three. It may be best to split the trio up and pair them with veterans. Eberle, though, could be the best of the bunch.
Projection: 82 GP, 22 G, 37 A, 59 Pts.
3. Nazem Kadri, Maple Leafs (’09-’10: 56 GP, 35 G, 58 A, 93 Pts in OHL) - Kadri is a supreme talent who has a chance to make the team on the third line out of camp. Kadri could get key minutes in 2010-2011 and valuable experience. Kadri will get acclimated with the NHL in his rookie season and build up toward full time minutes in 2011-2012. Projection: 82 GP, 17 G, 22 A, 39 Pts.

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Pittsburgh Penguins 2010-2011 Off-Season Review & Preview

September 13, 2010 By: Category: NHL, Sports

Sidney CrosbyThe Pittsburgh Penguins have had quite a boring off-season when it comes to the free agent market, but that could be a very good thing, just ask Marc-Andre Fleury. Ray Shero bolstered the defense by signing Zbynek Michalek, and former Devil, Paul Martin. The question is still there, however, who will be playing alongside Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

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That seemed to be answered with a late signing of Mike Comrie to a one year deal making a measly $500,000. Comrie’s agent said that he gave him a list of teams that he would be willing to play for and to talk to those teams to see who was interested in his services. He wants to win, and he will have a great chance of fulfilling his wish to win a Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh with two of the best players in the NHL, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Comrie is expected to fight for time on the top two lines, while Malkin is expected to slide over to right wing alongside Jordan Staal who will man the 2nd line center duties.

Many speculated that Paul Kariya was on his way to the steel city, but that fell through because of a nagging neck injury that will cause Kariya to miss all of the 2010-2011 NHL season. Fan favorite Bill Geurin was told the Penguins will not need his services this year and that the Penguins plan on using younger guys such as, Eric Tangradi, Nick Johnson, Dustin Jeffrey and Chris Conner throughout training camp to see who will make the team come October.

A very surprising move was the signing of the tough Aaron Asham from the hated rival Philadelphia Flyers. He and Matt Cooke don’t exactly get butterflies when they see each other. Asham is quoted saying, “I’ve got no respect for him,” Asham told the media at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. “You wish a guy had a little more class, but that’s every game with him. You think, ‘You bite somebody, (so) you have to fight back,’ but not this guy. He’s a chicken.” It will be interesting to see how the relationship between the two will be throughout the season, but only time will tell. Bad relations between teammates only seem to arise when a team is losing, but I don’t think this team will have that problem.

As a die-hard Penguins fan I expect 45+ wins for them this year. With the improved defense and chip on their shoulder from a tough defeat in game 7 of the NHL Eastern Conference semi-finals against the Montreal Canadiens expect Sid and company to have a very explosive offense while Orpik and the gang will hold the blue line down for Fleury to well, flourish this year. My player to watch this season will be Evgeni Malkin. His most successful season was when he played on the right side. He likes it over there and when he gets open his blazing wrist shot rarely misses. I expect him to surpass 90 points this season, possibly getting passed 100 points with his goal scoring ability.

Anything can happen. With a new arena, the Consol Energy Center, a huge Penguins vs. Capitals game at Heinz Field for the Winter Classic and a new season ahead of them, watch out for the Pittsburgh Penguins this year. Let’s Go Pens!

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NHL Game Preview: Penguins vs. Capitals

March 23, 2010 By: Category: NHL, Sports

Alex OvechkinWhile sports betting experts debate the newest March madness odds, the NHL races towards the playoffs with the lower-tiered teams fighting for their playoff lives. At the top of the heap are many of the same teams that were top contenders last year. At the very top of the price per head odds for winning the Stanley Cup are the Washington Capitals and the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

Right now the Capitals are 9 to 2 favorites win the Stanley Cup and the Penguins are 5 to 1 favorites to defend their title. Over that past three seasons the Capitals have steadily improved, mostly in the offensive departments. The Caps will go beyond 300 goals for this season which eclipses their mark from last year of 272. When it comes to the President’s Trophy the Capitals are running away with the award as they sit nine points in front of the Chicago Blackhawks and the surging Phoenix Coyotes. But the Caps were a strong regular season team last year until inexperienced goal tending did them in during the playoffs.

The Penguins are a stable team. Their regular season performance this season echoes their performance from last year. They are a tough team to beat but not overly dominating. When you look up your March madness betting information you may also want to check out the Penguins stats from last season. They will look much like this season. It is essentially the same team that played a strong regular season last year, and then burst through the playoffs to win the Cup.

Last year the Capitals were regular season monsters that were tamed in the playoffs by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins proved last year that they learned a lot when they lost in the finals to the Red Wings the year before. They learned how to win in the regular season just enough to be sharp in the playoffs.

The Capitals need to learn that lesson. Washington goaltender Semyon Varlamov is healthy again and splitting time with Jose Theodore. It is unclear what direction the Capitals are going with this, but if they stick with Varlamov that could be a mistake. He is young and was injured all season. Theodore got the Capitals to where they are and he should be the guy to finish the job.

The Penguins need this game. They are fighting with the New Jersey Devils for first place in the Atlantic Division and the Penguins know how important that home ice is for the playoffs. The Capitals have won seven out of their last 10 games, while the Penguins have won six out of their last 10.

The big difference between the Capitals and the Penguins is that the Capitals have been getting solid goal tending along with the most potent offense in the league by far. The Capitals have only lost four games in regulation all season long. They play hard at home, and they play to win.

The Penguins have a 21-14-2 record on the road, but Evgeni Malkin is injured and may not play this game. That takes a lot away from the Penguins.

The Capitals are tough at home and are gearing up for another playoff run. The Penguins need this game but go in without their power forward. This game comes down to goaltending.

Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2

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Canada Wins Olympic Gold; Gets Revenge on Team USA

March 01, 2010 By: Category: NHL, Sports

Sidney CrosbyTeam Canada knew deep down the moment they lost to USA earlier in the tournament that they would meet them again in the Finals for the Gold. With that in mind, they knew they had to play a solid game, and not make the same mistakes the USA had been making during the tournament. Boy did they deliver. Canada came out in the Gold Medal game ready to play and immediately brought it to Team USA as they did in the previous game they lost to USA. USA did not show up to play in the first period.

Once again it was USA Goaltender Ryan Miller keeping them in the game. USA played the same sloppy play as I have personally brought up before during the tournament. Jonathan Toews scored late in the 1st period to put Team Canada up 1-0. The end of the first would come, with Team USA being lucky to have not had a bigger hill to climb, mainly to the sensational play of Miller. USA finally woke up coming into the 2nd period and began to put the pressure on Team Canada. Canada would later respond 7:13 into the 2nd period with Corey Perry scoring on Miller making it 2-0. The crowd was insane at the point, thinking they had Team USA back on their heels. Ryan Kessler would get one by Team Canada Goaltender Roberto Luongo at the 12:44 mark of the 2nd period. The end to end hockey would begin as Team USA sensed they could get back into the game at the point.

The 3rd period would see more end to end action, and back and forth pressure from each team. With the final minutes coming at the end of the 3rd period, the crowd was getting restless as they could feel the clean sweep of Olympic Hockey for their country, having the Women Canadian team win the gold days prior. Zach Parise would spoil those dreams for the moment, beating Luongo with 25 seconds remaining in the game. The crowd was silent and the worried faces began to show throughout the crowd. You could sense the Pro Canada crowd began to worry if Team USA would go 2 for 2 against the mighty Canadians. The period would end, and Over Time would ensue. Sidney Crosby, maybe the most clutch player for Canada in the tournament so far, would score 7:40 into Over Time bringing Canada 2 Gold Medals for their beloved game of Hockey. The crowd was deafening, and rightfully so.

After the game, Crosby stated, “Our team worked so unbelievably hard. Today was really tough, especially when they got a goal late in regulation. But we came back and got it in overtime.” USA’s Chris Drury stated, “No one knew our names. People know our names now.”Canada won its eighth hockey gold medal and only it’s second since 1952. “It stings right now,” said Miller who was the Tournament MVP. Miller played some of the best hockey I’ve seen from a Goaltender in some time. It makes you wonder if he can carry that same play over to Buffalo and help try to give them a run to the Playoffs in the NHL.

“It’s devastating. It was the biggest game any of us have played in,” U.S. defenseman Jack Johnson stated. USA losing to Canada is not a bad thing, as USA is an extremely young team. This can do nothing but make those players better. With such veteran players like NHL Philadelphia Flyers Chris Pronger, and Mike Richards you have to hope like with Miller, can it carry over to NHL play? During the tournament there was a lot of talk about if this great tournament that was being showcased could bring hockey back on the map for the USA media and households to make main stream again. That question is something that only time can tell, but I sure hope so. Can all NHL fans say that hockey on Versus is acceptable?

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Olympic Hockey Preview And Betting Odds

February 23, 2010 By: Category: NHL, Sports

USA Hockey TeamThe hockey world was shocked on Sunday when the USA knocked off Canada 5-3. The Canadian team, playing in their home country, ranked #1 in the world simply got outplayed in an instant classic. The Canadians will now have to take the long road to the medal round and play an extra game. Lucky for them, they get to play 0-3 Germany.

Team Canada vs. Team Germany

Olympic Hockey odds (*note lines are approximations as they have not been posted at the time of writing)

Spread: Canada -1.5
Over/Under: 6
Money Line: Canada -400, Germany +350

The Canadian team has a stacked line up that should be a terror for the German team. The Germans only have a handful of NHL players and the Canadians only have the best players in the NHL. They’ve been shut out twice have to run the table to get into the medal round.

5dimes review: This game is a lock. The Canadians will be hungry and looking for a whipping boy after losing to the USA. Team Canada led by Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, Rick Nash, Martin Brodeur, Mike Richards and another dozen or so more all-stars, have no chance of losing this game. They have already shut out a weak Norway team 8-0. Expect more of the same in this one.

Final: Canada 10 – Germany 0. Take the over and Canada.

Review: USA vs. Canada

In one of the most exciting games I’ve ever watched, the United States defeated Team Canada in Vancouver 5-3. The game was back and forth with amazing acrobatic plays, hard checking, shot-blocking and unlikely heroes. The United States got two goals and an assist from the point from D Brian Rafalski. The Americans took the lead 4-2 on team captain Jamie Langenbrunner’s deflection of a Rafalski shot 7:09 into the 3rd period. The pace was frantic from both sides for the rest of the game with unreal saves from both goaltenders. USA goalie Ryan Miller somehow stopped 42 shots and while standing on his head. With only a few minutes left, a puck took a weird carom and bounced to Rick Nash who put the put it on Sid the Kid’s stick and deflected the puck for a goal as he crashed to the net. In a twist of irony with Martin Brodeur on the bench and a sixth skater on the ice, Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler chased down a puck and flailed his stick around the defenseman and somehow knocked it into the empty net, sealing the victory for the US in Vancouver against the home team.

Olympic hockey is the crown jewel of the Winter Olympics and the reasons have been on display for all to see. Take advantage of the rest of these preliminary round games as there are only a handful of teams that are elite in this tournament. Until the medal round, it is safe to say as long as they are not playing each other, that the USA team, Russian team, Canadian team, Swedish team and Czech teams, should be prohibitive favorites.

Hockey Odds: Take the Canadians and Czechs in their next games. They have inferior opponents (Germany, Latvia).

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