Saturday, March 30, 2019

Saturday Preview (Mar 30)

Well, it's another rush job today, as we get the preview ready for Saturday, as it was a late start for me and a fairly early start for the NHL, with the first game going at 11am MT.

Kristy & Don have leapt out to the lead in the Mover & Shaker race, now up to 29 points and really taking a good grip on 3rd place in the standings.  Tony and Stacey C. are not far behind at 27 points, while Jesse's team remains hopeful at 25 points.  Between Tony and Jesse, if either of those two want 3rd place, they need their teams to be much, much better than the duo's this weekend.

Troy and Scott are duking it out in the Basement Dweller race, both teams start the day at 6 points each, and only Steve is in ear shot of those two, up at 9 points.

Roberto Luongo (John P.) versus Tuukka Rask (Jesse)
The Boston Bruins can get one step closer to clinching home-ice in the opening round of the playoffs with a win against the Panthers tonight at home.  Of course, this is one of those key games that Jesse needs to get some points and climb back into the 3rd place race, as Tuukka Rask has been given the nod for the Bruins today.  Jesse's team is only 3 points out of 4th at the start of play tonight, which would be a good hurdle to get over.

In other pool news, Mike Matheson of the Panthers is expected to return to the lineup, which is good news for John P. today.  Matheson spent a game in the press box as a healthy scratch, which has been pretty popular for his blueline this season.

Cam Talbot (Mike) versus Petr Mrazek (Stacey C.)
The Carolina Hurricanes are doing Stacey C. a solid in his bid for the Mover & Shaker this week, giving Petr Mrazek a spin in net on Saturday afternoon against the Flyers.  Philadelphia is also in the charitable mood, giving Cam Talbot a start in the matinee game, as Mike's team looks to take back their top 20 spot in the standings.

We do know that Shayne Gostisbehere has been tapped to be a healthy scratch in this game this afternoon, he will make way for youngster Sam Morin to get some minutes down the stretch, now that the games don't mean nearly as much.  Scott's team fell back into last place last night and this scratch won't help.

Carey Price (Stacey M.) versus Connor Hellebuyck (Jeremy)
It hasn't been confirmed exactly, but it seems fair to assume that Carey Price will be going for the Canadiens in Winnipeg tonight, as they desperately try to claw their way back into the playoff picture against the Jets.  Stacey M. is starting to look over her shoulder, since her lock on 2nd place has begun to get unstable, now only 12 points up on the surging duo in 3rd.  A bad weekend could really make that interesting.  Connor Hellebuyck is expected to get the start for the Jets, with Jeremy's team still floating in 19th.

Lots of lineup news for this one, as the Canadiens are expected to scratch Jesperi Kotkaniemi tonight, which doesn't help Stacey M.'s cause much at all, but he hasn't exactly been putting the points up to warrant staying in the lineup either.  On the Jets side, Dustin Byfuglien is expected to be back in the lineup for the last push to the playoffs, trying to shake off the rust in the last nine days before the end of the regular season.  Dale C. is eyeing up a top 10 spot, starting in 11th today and getting a big piece back healthy.

Garret Sparks (Grant) versus Craig Anderson (Mike)
The Battle of Ontario goes tonight in Ottawa, when the Leafs take on the Senators.  Grant's team gets a rare start out of the Leafs, as they will go with Garret Sparks tonight against the lowly Sens, a couple of points that Grant really needs, if his team is to climb back into 3rd place again before the end of the year.  His team starts 10 points out of 3rd and is chasing the current Mover & Shaker to get there.  Mike has been confirmed for two starts already today, which is good for that chase for 20th, but that's about it.

Did I mention that the Leafs could clinch their playoff berth tonight?  No?  Oh, silly me.  They only need 1 point tonight to do so, so either an overtime/shootout loss (or a win, whatever!) or a Montreal loss in any fashion, will get the job done.

Braden Holtby (Stacey C.) versus Andrei Vasilevskiy (Dale C.)
We know that Braden Holtby has been given the green light in Tampa Bay tonight, giving Stacey C. another start for his chase for the Mover & Shaker this week.  At this point in the morning, we still haven't heard about the Lightning's starter, but given the opponent, it would seem very likely that Andrei Vasilevskiy will get the nod at the other end.  Dale C.'s chances at 10th place get better with a start here, if it happens.

His chances might take a hit, since Brett Connolly is questionable to go for the Capitals tonight, as he may have been bitten by the flu bug.  He'll be questionable to a game-time decision ahead of this one and if he can't go, he'll be day-to-day.  Ondrej Palat is expected to make a return from an upper-body injury tonight, another positive for Stacey M. and her defense of 2nd place.

Jake Allen (Steve) versus Cory Schneider (N/A)
A pair of teams cycling through their goalies, the Blues playing last night and the Devils just going through the motions, will go tonight in Jersey.  The Blues clinched last night, despite their loss, and they still have an outside chance at winning the Central Division, starting the night only 4 points back of both Winnipeg and Nashville, both teams going tonight.

Steve appears to be getting the only pool start in this game, if Allen does indeed go, it's still unconfirmed.  His team could distance itself from the basement with a win here.  As it was mentioned before, his team is the closest to the race to the bottom, starting 3 points clear.

Carter Hutton (Wes) versus Robin Lehner (Chelsea)
Wes' team is trying to defend his return to the top 10 with a Carter Hutton win on Long Island tonight, as the Sabres are trying to redeem a little bit of their pride after a tough collapse on a great start to the regular season.  They would like to have some sort of glimmer of hope, heading into the off-season.  Chelsea potentially could have two starts today, the first coming here in this game, as Robin Lehner is expected to get the start for the Islanders, who still have their eye on a Metro Division title.

The Islanders can also claim their playoff spot officially with a win or a Canadiens regulation loss or if both teams lose after regulation.  It's just that easy.  I'm expecting a big game from those Islanders though.

Sergei Bobrosky (Kristy & Don) versus Juuse Saros (Eric)
Neither goalie for the game between the Blue Jackets and the Predators were confirmed, but here's my best guess in the early part of the day.  The duo should be getting their start from Sergei Bobrovsky, since the Jackets are in the thick of the wild card race in the east and if Juuse Saros is over his bout of the flu from last night, he could get the nod tonight, but again, that's still up in the air.

Maxime Lagace (N/A) versus Martin Jones (Brenda & Seward)
Nothing confirmed in net for the Golden Knights and the Sharks, but as long as Marc-Andre Fleury is injured, Vegas won't have a pool goalie regardless.  They played last night and lost, yet still clinched their spot, thanks to the Coyotes' loss, so I would assume that Maxime Lagace will finally get a start in San Jose tonight.  We're looking for Martin Jones to get the nod again for the Sharks, giving Brenda & Seward a start, they're still chasing down Chelsea's team for 22nd in the standings, starting play 5 points back.

Anton Khudobin (Grant) versus Jacob Markstrom (Chelsea)
The injury to Ben Bishop should suggest that Anton Khudobin will get another start tonight, this time in Vancouver, taking on the Canucks.  Khudobin and the Stars can clinch their playoff berth with any type of win tonight, they just need the 2 points and Grant could use the points as well, in that chase for 3rd place.  The Canucks goaltending, still unconfirmed, could go either way, but since Jacob Markstrom got the night off on Thursday, we'd expect him back tonight.

John Gibson (Kristy & Don) versus Mikko Koskinen (Tony)
Fresh off getting their feathers ruffled in Calgary, the Ducks are in Edmonton on the Alberta back-to-back challenge, taking on the Oilers.  In the pool standings, this would probably be considered the hockey pool game of the night, since it's 3rd place Kristy & Don seeing their goalie, John Gibson, return to the net after a night off, while Tony's 6th place team should get another start from Mikko Koskinen.  The gap between the two teams is 18 points, which is improbable to make up, but it all starts with 2 points here in this game.

Corey Crawford (N/A) versus Jonathan Quick (Brenda & Seward)
Remember when these two teams were the class of the Western Conference at the same time?  Those were definitely some days.  The Kings were long eliminated from playoff contention and the Blackhawks are not long for the playoff world either.  They're not officially eliminated yet, but it's close.  Jonathan Quick is the likely keeper for the Kings, unconfirmed, but likely... while the same goes for Corey Crawford is the likely keeper for the Blackhawks.  The last gasps for Chicago are painful to watch, but there they go.

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