Facing Off: The DF Panel’s Picks for Saturday, March 20, 2010

Updated: March 20, 2010 at 11:39 am by Facing Off

We’re continuing our new weekly feature on DailyFaceoff.com designed to give you varying perspectives on some of the matchups that will take place each Saturday.  Our panel will each pick one game as their favourite play of the night and each play will then be rated by two members of the panel (in a “Faceoff”) – shedding more light on the quality of the pick.  Given the preparation behind the article, some of the lines we are working off of may not be fully accurate up to gametime, as well as the goaltenders we reference, so please keep that in mind!

Facing off this week will be:

– The Face of DailyFaceoff.com: Matt Bennett
– Internet Super-Ninja: Ricky Daniels
– International Radio Personality: Alexander Monaghan
– Frustrated Computer User: Jeff Tay

Let’s drop the picks!

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Jeff’s Pick: Montreal Canadiens -105 (moneyline) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

This is one of those matchups which I’ll call “The Double Special” from now on.  Montreal has Toronto beat in both special teams departments (PP and PK), and their road PP has converted on a league-best 29.9% of PP opportunities this season. Toronto’s home PK is actually a 28th ranked 75.2% this season, while their home PP has operated at a 25th ranked 16%, so this is essentially a “Double Mega Special”, with Montreal’s road PK unit being ranked 5th overall as well  at 84%. The pick’em price is the sweet cherry on top of it all.

Response #1 – Ricky: The Habs have been strong and the Leafs have faded recently, and this pick looks good.  However, watch where the money is going or Vegas could take you for a ride.  over 70% on Mtl means stay away.

Response #2 – Matt: Too easy.  Toronto has nothing to play for and Montreal has been streaking.  The Leafs are coming off of a stretch of good games but you still need to go for the Habs here – better in every way.

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Ricky’s Pick: Dallas Stars -120 (moneyline) vs. Ottawa Senators

This is my selection for two reasons: Ottawa is playing poorly lately and there’s not a lot of chalk.  I’m not relying on Dallas to be the incredibly hot team they have been recently, but I do think they can get it done.  Hopefully we’ll see Turco in net here and he should be able to put on a show against the struggling Senators.

Response #1 – Matt: I was looking at Dallas early on but mainly because Ottawa has been so bad.  That’s really the only way to choose Dallas right now, they keep games way too close at home and it very well could go either way.  I’m wary because they couldn’t capitalize on Boucher Thursday night.

Response #2 – Alexander: Say what you will about the heating up Dallas Stars, I simply refuse to trust them.  Aside from two wins against the San Jose Sharks and the Washington Capitals, the team in Big D show too much inconsistency to confidently pick them.  The Senators hold too talented of a team to continue losing games by these lofty margins and should look to bounce back against an inferior team following their third period collapse against the Thrashers last Thursday.

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Alexander’s Pick:  Chicago Blackhawks +110 (moneyline) vs.  Phoenix Coyotes

The Phoenix Coyotes find themselves on a seven game winning streak, making them in my opinion due for a loss.  Led by Dave Tippett, the Yotes let in a stingy number of goals, averaging 2.38 goals allowed per game.  The Blackhawks, however, counter with a 2.41 goals against average but hold a much larger presence putting the puck across the goal line.  The top team in the Central Division carry a better chance of scoring more goals in the game and actually boast an impressive away record.  Chicago over Phoenix at +110.

Response #1 – Ricky: This is playoff hockey; don’t bet against the hot hand and don’t bet against a team that’s that good at home.  A Niemi shutout on Thursday night is the only break from poor goaltending Chicago has seen in a while and when Phoenix has the ability to shut down offense, this is a set up for Phoenix to take and hold a lead.

Response #2 – Jeff: I think that the Blackhawks could end up outshooting the Coyotes by about a 30-20 margin, as they did in both of their first two meetings this season, but it is disconcerting to see that Chicago only managed to score once in each of those two games against Phoenix so far (losing both). I also tend to believe that Phoenix will be using this game as a measuring stick for themselves, as they implausibly make a charge for the top of the Western Conference standings. Phoenix is still fighting hard for respect. Therefore, I’ll pass on Chicago.

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Matt’s Pick: Philadelphia Flyers at Atlanta Thrashers over 6.0 goals

The 7th and 8th ranked offenses in the league square off in the first of a home-and-home.  Atlanta has been putting pucks in the net, 10 in their last 2 at home, and letting in 3+ in each of their last 4 home games, while Philly has allowed an average of 3 on their 3-game road trip.  Boucher has only let in 6 goals in 4 March starts but I like Atlanta to finally crack his armour and at the very least push the total.

Response #1 – Alexander: With Brian Boucher in net, anything can happen.  Both offenses can put in goals in buckets while both goalies could put up sieve-like performances.  The Flyers have scored three goals in five of their last seven, making the first half reasonably attainable.  Boucher really holds the xfactor, but if I can bet against Jaroslav Halak, I find no reason not to doubt the 33-year-old.

Response #2 – Jeff: I believe that the shots on goal will definitely be sufficient in this game for the over 6.0. Both of these teams have had tendencies to combine with opponents for over 65 SOG per game, and so, it really boils down to whether enough saves will be made between Brian Boucher and Johan Hedberg. For me, Boucher is the unknown factor–his save percentage has been good, but his work load has also been light.  I figure Philadelphia for about 3 goals, and Atlanta for about 30 SOG. Whether or not Boucher can make 28 saves, I really don’t know.

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