Vegas jumps into hockey, but only NHL works

January 22, 2002 8:49 AM
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            Congrats to Las Vegas for securing a couple of hockey teams, but success will be quite a different matter. Hockey is a great sport, but Las Vegas has shown time and again it won’t accept anything less than a major league club.

            People just don’t support minor league pro teams. We wish the franchises all the best, but honestly our odds are solidly against them being here beyond a year.

This week’s slate:

            Last week’s 3-2-2 record   included Monday afternoon’s overtime loss with Boston against the red-hot St. Louis Blues. We’ll try to improve.

Tuesday, Jan. 22

            Rangers (51 pts) at Isles (55): The battle for New York bragging rights resumes at Nassau Coliseum. The Rangers have been slumping of late, while the Isles continue to be the surprise of the Atlantic Division. Take ISLES.

Wednesday, Jan. 23

            Blues (63) at Sabres (45): How do you bet against a team that has won a franchise-record nine consecutive games? Well, you can’t. Buffalo has recently  returned from a West Coast swing. St. Louis had a night off after beating Boston. Take BLUES.

Thursday, Jan. 24

            Sharks (57) at Blue Jackets (34): Don’t be deceived by the  point total of Columbus. The Blue Jackets are no pushover at home and often receive solid goaltending. San Jose starts  long trip East. Take UNDER.

 Friday, Jan. 25

            Blues (63) at Hawks (67): This is where we think the St. Louis win streak will end. Chicago has had a great season thus far, trailing Detroit by just seven points for the best record in the NHL. The Blackhawks have been great at home and goalie Thibault is having his best year in the nets. Take HAWKS.

Saturday, Jan. 26

            Maple Leafs (59) at Oilers (57): Hockey Night In Canada. Both teams are fast and can hit. Toronto’s offense is a little bit better than Edmonton and that could be the difference. We look for a wild, fight-filled contest in Edmonton, which boasts the best ice surface. Take OVER.

Sunday, Jan. 27

            Sharks (57) at Canadiens (49): A rarity for Montreal ””back-to-back home games. This will help against San Jose, which should start getting road weary about now. Fatigue usually means sloppy play, which means lack of ­­offense. Take UNDER.

Monday, Jan. 28

            Kings (51) at Avalanche (59): The Rob Blake Game. Blake, a former All-Star with Los Angeles, is considered the top two-way defenseman in the NHL. No love lost here. L.A. is playing better. Take KINGS.