Picks and sticks from Vegas 

March, 25, 2010

LAS VEGAS -- If there was ever a time for me to get hot picking hockey games, it would be tonight. I'm spending the next two days in Las Vegas to eyeball Wayne Gretzky's annual fantasy camp, mingle with the famous instructors (Brian Leetch and Luc Robitaille, just to name two) and find out what makes some of the campers tick.

I might even get on the ice for a shift or two. The odds aren't very good of me having too many other chances to line-up alongside the Great One.

Of course this won't be the only hockey in Vegas tonight, as the league's games will be beamed into sports books all along The Strip. With that in mind, here are my Thursday night picks. I'll only be using Monopoly money on tonight's full 11-game card.

Calgary Flames at New York Islanders

It's hard to choose the Isles coming off a 5-0 beating at the hands of the Rangers last night at Madison Square Garden. The Flames are burning for points to stay in the Western Conference playoff chase. Simply, if they can't beat the Isles, they don't deserve a postseason berth. Brent Sutter's guys should win on Long Island.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.