I'm taking Malkin and the Pens over the Blackhawks tonight

I thought it might be fun for Backhand Shelf to make its foray into score prediction sorcery tonight as I’ll give you my picks for game winners and fantasy leaders. Don’t forget to check back later tonight for my “Box Score” where I run down the top fantasy performers of the night. Now, time to consult the hockey gods…

In New Jersey, I like the Devils over the Rangers in a close one. I think Lundqvist and Brodeur will post some solid performances to pace their teams, but I’ve really liked what I’ve seen from the New Jersey forward corps of late. Lundqvist will stop 30+ but I’ll stick with the Devils.

New Jersey 2 – New York 1

In D.C., I think we have another close one. Michal Neuvirth will get the call for the Caps and while he let in a softy the other night, he’s been on a roll of late, only allowing three goals in his last three appearances. I think Washington finds a way through that Nashville fortress. As a Rinne fantasy owner, I’m saddened by my doubt.

Washington 3 – Nashville 2

The Blackhawks and Pens is the game I’ll be keeping an eye on tonight and I’m pretty pumped for it. I think it’s going to be great pace and heavy hitting with lots of chances at both ends. That being said, with Pittsburgh being such a strong home team, I’ll take them over the Blackhawks with Ray Emery eventually succumbing to the offensive enslaught.

Pittsburgh 5 – Chicago 2

I really like Buffalo to take a road win from the Sens tonight eve if the enigma himself, Kyle Turris, is making his debut in the nation’s capital. Ryan Miller gets the start tonight and, by and large, has been seeing the puck well since returning from a concussion. Craig Anderson has struggled at the opposite end of the rink for Ottawa. I think the Sabres win easily tonight.

Buffalo 4 – Ottawa 1

Coyotes/Panthers may be the best game nobody watches tonight as Florida plays host to a surprisingly strong desert opponent. I think this will be a closely contested game that the Panthers take. Jose Theodore has quietly been one of the more solid goaltenders in hockey this season for those of you who are wondering.

Phoenix 2 – Florida 4

I have a feeling this will be one of the more sloppily played games tonight as both teams have their own problems. With Al Montoya and Ondrej Pavelec the scheduled starters, I feel as though this will be a heart attack for plenty of fans and fantasy owners. I’ll take the Jets at home in this one where they’re considerably better against an inconsistent Isles team.

New York 4 – Winnipeg 5

For those of you who haven’t watched lately, the Calgary Flames are becoming borderline painful for the casual spectator when they take on a top level opponent. Whether you believe it or not, the Wild are exactly that this season. Sure, they’re playing the second game of a back-to-back, but they’ve been great in front of Josh Harding this season. I think the Wild win easily in this one.

Minnesota 3 – Calgary 0

Josh Harding has been really, really good this year.

My top Fantasy performance predictions:

Goals: I think Evgeni Malkin terrorizes the Blackhawks tonight.
Assists: Thomas Vanek should be a catalyst for the Sabres en route to a win over Ottawa.
PIMs: Tough guys are usually more noticeable at home and David Clarkson has gone a little while without a scrap.
Goaltending: I picked him to get a shutout tonight, I’m going with Josh Harding as the top ‘tender.