|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|05-21-19||Sharks +1.5 v. Blues||1-5||Loss||-200||23 h 55 m||Show|
The set-up: The Sharks are on the brink of elimination and in a game which I think is going to be decided late or even in extra time, I have no issues at all in laying the steeper price for the extra 1.5 goals. San Jose has only one goal over its last two games, but overall the Sharks come in averaging 3.67 goals this year. Jordan Binnington has been exceptional in net for St. Louis, but one has to wonder when the rookie will have a letdown? I have a hard time seeing this talented Sharks offense being held down for a third straight game and in this elimination scenario.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but San Jose is 8-2 (+5.2 units) this year after scoring one goals or less i its previous contest, while St. Louis is only 4-5 (-1.7 units) this season after shutting out its opponent in its previous game.
San Jose Sharks (+1.5)
|03-16-19||Capitals +1.5 v. Lightning||Top||3-6||Loss||-154||13 h 18 m||Show|
The set-up: This is a big game. The Lightning are out to prove their the best team in the league this year and they can prove that with a resounding victory over the defending champs. But clearly Washington won’t be going down without a fight. The Capitals have been great since the All Star break. Washington averages 3.39 goals and it allows 3.07. The Lightning average 3.82 goals and they allow 2.62.
The pick: Washington is 15-9 (+3.4 units) this year after a win by two goals or more and in a game which I expect to be decided late or even in extra time, I’m going to lay the very reasonable mid-sized price for the extra 1.5 goals of insurance. Play on the Capitals on the puck line.
|02-26-19||Stars +1.5 v. Golden Knights||1-4||Loss||-152||14 h 30 m||Show|
The set-up: Both teams come in desperate for a win. Dallas comes in off a much-needed 4-3 win over Chicago, while the Knights enter having lost three straight. Dallas also plays with revenge here after a 4-2 loss in the only other meeting between the clubs. The Knights obtained Mark Stone from the Senators, but he’s not expected to suit up here. Las Vegas is struggling with offensive consistency and I think that trend continues here.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Dallas is 16-10 (+5.3 units) in its last 26 in trying to revenge a loss vs. an opponent, while Las Vegas is just 2-4 in its last six home games following a three games or more losing streak. I’m laying the very reasonable mid sized price for the extra insurance. Play on the Stars on the puck line.
|02-16-19||Oilers +1.5 v. Islanders||Top||2-5||Loss||-157||22 h 54 m||Show|
The set-up: The Oilers come in off a 3-1 road loss in Carolina just last night. Edmonton has now lost nine of its last ten. Clearly the Oilers have many issues this year, but I think the visitors play with extreme desperation in the second game of the back-to-back. The Islanders have been rolling and are one of the surprise teams in the NHL this year, but with three whole nights off before a Western road swing, I think the home side get caught in a “trap” this evening.
The pick: Take it for why you will as well, but the Oilers are 6-3 (+2.1 units) in their last nine after scoring one goal or less in their previous outing, while New York is just 2-3 (-1.4 units) this season after shutting out its opponent in its previous outing. Lay the price, play on Edmonton the “puck line.”
|02-11-19||Kings +1.5 v. Capitals||Top||4-6||Loss||-155||8 h 11 m||Show|
The set-up: Both teams come in off losses. The Kings fell 5-4 in OT to the Bruins on the road, while the Capitals lost 5-4 in OT to the Panthers at home. Previous to their loss in Boston though, the Kings had won three straight. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is an astounding 9-2 with a 2.23 GAA lifetime vs. the Capitals. The defending champs come in on the other end of the spectrum as they’ve lost nine of their last 12. Caps’ net minder Braden Holtby is just 1-3 with a 2.51 ERA lifetime vs. the Kings.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but LA is 6-1 in its last seven after allowing five goals or more in its previous contest, while Washington is just 1-5 in its last six after allowing five or more goals. This is a great price for the extra goal-and-a-half of insurance. Play on the Kings on the puck line.
|01-12-19||Senators v. Sharks -1.5||1-4||Win||100||14 h 5 m||Show|
The set-up: The Sharks come in with a ton of momentum and I look for them to carry that over here. San Jose is now 7-1-0 in its past eight outings. The Senators come in off back-to-back wins over the Ducks and Kings, but I think a return to mediocrity is definitely in the cards for Ottawa in this difficult arena. The Senators have won back-to-back road games for the first time all year and in my opinion, I believe this sets up as a classic “trap” for the over-achieving visitors.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but San Jose is 4-1 in its last five when playing one days rest, while the Sens are still 0-4 in their last four vs. teams with winning records. I’m laying the 1.5 goals for the near pick-em price.
SJ -1.5 10*
|12-28-18||Senators +1.5 v. Islanders||Top||3-6||Loss||-160||27 h 45 m||Show|
The set-up: In a contest which I envision being decided late or in extra time, I believe the prudent move is to lay the reasonable mid-sized price for the extra 1.5 goals. Ottawa enters off a 4-0 home loss to Washington, while the Isles return home after a 3-1 road win over the Stars. Overall the Sens average 3.19 GPG and they allow 3.89. Note that Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson has a very respectable 2.52 lifetime GAA vs. the Isles in 18 match ups. The Isles are averaging 2.83 GPG and they’re allowing 2.71. NY net minder Tomas Greiss is 3-1 with a 3.48 GAA lifetime vs. Ottawa.
The pick: Take it for what you will though, but Ottawa is 3-1 (+2 units) in its last four when playing with three or more days rest, while New York is already 0-3 (-3.1 units) this season in the same position. Lay the price, grab the 1.5 goals.
|12-22-18||Jets v. Canucks +1.5||1-0||Win||100||14 h 20 m||Show|
The set-up: I think the home side has a legitimate shot at winning this one outright. That said, I’ll recommend laying the price for the extra 1.5 goals of insurance in the end. Could you fault the Jets for looking past their lowly opponent today after winning six of their last seven? The Canucks though have quietly been dominating themselves of late by going 3-1 on their current home stand. In a contest which I envision being decided late or even in extra time, the hot/hungry home side is the correct call here in my opinion.
The pick: The Canucks have actually going 6-1-1 in their last eight behind an improved defense which has allowed two goals only twice in its past seven games. Play on the Canucks puck line.
|12-09-18||Canucks +1.5 v. Blues||Top||6-1||Win||100||9 h 57 m||Show|
The set-up: While the outright win isn’t out of the question here, I’m going to lay this very reasonable price for the extra 1.5 goals of insurance. Both teams come in off victories. St. Louis enters off a satisfying 1-0 road win over the Jets, while Vancouver comes in off a 5-3 home win over Nashville. The Canucks average 2.84 GPG and they allow 3.42. St. Louis is averaging 2.85 GPG and it’s allowing 3.22.
The pick: These two horrible teams are pretty evenly matched, but note that Vancouver is 3-1 (+2.9 units) in its last four after a win by two goals or more, while St. Louis is just 3-4 (-2 units) this season after scoring one goal or less in its previous outing. Play on the Canucks on the puck line.
|11-15-18||Canucks +1.5 v. Wild||2-6||Loss||-140||11 h 24 m||Show|
The set-up: I’m expecting a very competitive battle. This is the end of a six-game road trip for the Canucks and they’ll be determined to end strong. Overall Vancouver is averaging 3.1 GPG and allowing 3.5. Minnesota enters off a 5-2 home loss to Washington and it’s so far averaging 3.1 GPG and allowing 2.7.
The pick: Take it for what you will though, but Vancouver is already 4-2 (+5.7 units) this year after a loss by two goals or more in its previous outing. In a contest that’s going to be decided late or in extra time, lay the price for the 1.5 goals.
|11-10-18||Canucks +1.5 v. Sabres||Top||3-4||Win||100||18 h 29 m||Show|
The set-up: Has there been any bigger surprise than the Vancouver Canucks this season? No team has done more with less. Buffalo enters off a 6-5 OT win over the Habs, but with a game against Tampa Bay on Monday, it’s not too hard to imagine the home side looking past its lowly non-conference opponent this afternoon. The Canucks are off an 8-5 win at Boston and are 5-2 on the overall.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Buffalo is just 2-7 in its last nine after scoring six goals or more in an OT victory in its previous outing. Lay the price for the 1.5 goals “puck line.” 10*
|11-02-18||Panthers +1.5 v. Jets||4-2||Win||100||8 h 44 m||Show|
The set-up: This game is being played in Finland. The Jets took the first game yesterday by a score of 4-2, but I think that 2-7 Florida will bounce back here and find a way to score the minor upset. Previous to come to Helsinki Winnipeg had lost three of four.
The pick: This game features two back up goaltenders, so that department is a “wash.” Interesting to note though that Florida is 6-2 in its last eight after allowing four goals or more in its previous contest and playing the second game of a back-to-back. I’m banking on the desperate Panthers to find a way to get the job done. Lay the bigger price for the extra 1.5 goals.
|10-28-18||Senators v. Golden Knights -1.5||Top||3-4||Loss||-100||12 h 15 m||Show|
The set-up: I believe the overall situation favors the Knights so much in this one, that I do indeed have no issues at all in laying this larger price. After three straight wins the Senators have now lost two straight. But with much more “winnable” games upcoming at Arizona and then a home and home set with Buffalo, it’s not too hard to imagine the visitors getting caught “looking ahead.” Vegas has struggled as well this season after its Cinderella run last year, but after back-to-back losses to Vancouver and TB and with a tough road game starting in Nashville on Tuesday, I expect the home side to leave everything it has on the ice this evening.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but the Knights are 7-2 in their last nine home games following a two games or more losing streak. Lay the -1.5.
|10-26-18||Senators v. Avalanche -1.5||Top||3-6||Win||130||13 h 42 m||Show|
The pick: And take it for what you will, but Colorado is 7-2 in its last nine home games after being shutout in its previous contest. Lay the -1.5.
|10-18-18||Canucks v. Jets -1.5||Top||1-4||Win||145||12 h 25 m||Show|
The set-up: This is a great “situational” play. This is the end of an extremely tough six-game road trip, one which the Canucks have gone 3-2 so far on. Can anyone say letdown spot? With two nights off before a home game against Boston, I absolutely expect the Canucks to get caught “looking ahead.” Winnipeg on the other hand will be eager to get back on track here after letting a big lead slip away against Edmonton last time out. The pick: And take it for what you will, but the Jets are 7-2 in their last nine home games in which they gave up five goals or more in their previous contest. Lay the 1.5 goals and expect a rout.
|10-17-18||Rangers v. Capitals -1.5||Top||3-4||Loss||-100||8 h 48 m||Show|
The set-up: This sets up great for a home side blowout. The Rangers are in action on Tuesday night at home in a tough match-up with the Avs. I believe the visitors come in “dog tired” here. Washington on the other hand has been off for four nights and it’ll be eager to get back on track here after back-to-back losses, most recently a 4-2 home loss to the Leafs.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but the Capitals are 11-4 in their last 15 home games in which they are a favorite in the -250 to -400 range. Lay the 1.5 goals and expect a rout!
|10-16-18||Hurricanes v. Lightning -1.5||Top||2-4||Win||160||27 h 50 m||Show|
The set-up: It’s a favorable stretch for Tampa, which sits at 2-1 to open the year. It’s had two whole nights off after an 8-2 win over Columbus and it has two nights off after this one before a game against lowly Detroit. After that the Bolts hit the road for a lengthy trip, so earning victories over these next two games will be important for Tampa here. The Hurricanes on the other hand will come in flat here. After a tough 5-4 OT win in Minnesota, Carolina would predictably take a step back in a 3-1 loss at Winnipeg the following night. But with three nights off before a home game against the Rockies, there’s no doubt that this sets up as a “look ahead” spot for the visitors also The pick: And take it for what you will as well, but Tampa is 7-2 in its last nine home games as a favorite in the -150 to -225 range. Lay the 1.5 goals and expect a blowout.
|10-11-18||Golden Knights v. Penguins -1.5||Top||2-4||Win||160||9 h 39 m||Show|
The set-up: This one sets up great from a situational stand-point. The Golden Knights are in Washington to take on the Capitals in re-match of last year’s Stanley Cup Final and will clearly be “gassed” here. The Knights will be using their back-up goaltender and they’ve not looked nearly as explosive this year, clearly suffering from a “hang-over” after last season’s epic debut season. Pittsburgh on the other hand can’t be too happy at 1-2. It beat Washington 7-6 in OT in its Opener, before then falling 5-1 to Montreal two nights later. But the Pens have had four whole nights off to absorb that set-back and prepare for this one.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Pittsburgh is 8-3 in its last 11 home games as a favorite in the -150 to -300 range. This one has “blowout” written all over it. Play on the Pens on the “puck line.”
|10-11-18||Oilers +1.5 v. Bruins||Top||1-4||Loss||-190||9 h 38 m||Show|
The set-up: Edmonton’s played one game and it lost 5-2 in New Jersey. The Oilers got off to a terrible start last season and they’ll be risking life and limb today to try and get back to .500. Boston opened with a 7-0 loss to the Capitals, but it’s since reeled off back-to-back victories. With a game at home against rival Detroit on Saturday, I think the home side could be caught “looking past” its lowly non-conference opponent.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Edmonton is 7-2 in its last nine when playing a road game after having two or more nights off. Play on the Oilers on the “puck line.”
|10-06-18||Senators v. Maple Leafs -1.5||Top||5-3||Loss||-100||12 h 36 m||Show|
The set-up: The Maple Leafs survived a scare on Opening Night with a 3-2 OT victory over Montreal and it’s had two whole nights off to prepare for this one. The Leafs will be leaving everything on the line tonight, because tomorrow they embark on a tough five-game road trip starting in Chicago. Ottawa on the other hand comes in off a disheartening 4-3 OT loss to the Blackhawks at home and with a tough game in Boston on Monday, I think the visitors also get caught looking ahead here.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Toronto is 7-2 in its last nine home games as a favorite in the -200 to -300 range. Lay the 1.5 goals and expect a rout.
|05-13-18||Capitals +1.5 v. Lightning||Top||6-2||Win||100||16 h 37 m||Show|
|05-06-18||Bruins +1.5 v. Lightning||Top||1-3||Loss||-190||8 h 38 m||Show|
The set-up: The Bruins shocked the Lightning in Game 1 of their semifinal series, 6-2. However, Tampa Bay has won three straight since, putting Boston on the verge of elimination as the teams take the ice this Sunday afternoon at Amalie Arena. Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos tied the contest in the third period of Game 4 and defenseman Dan Girardi tipped home the game-winner in overtime, as the Lightning rallied for a 4-3 victory Friday to give themselves a chance to finish their second series in five games. The Bruins have not recorded an even-strength goal since Game 2, after scoring twice with the man advantage and once short-handed during the rally that gave them a 3-2 lead in the third period Friday, before folding.
Boston: Not only is Boston down 3-1 in the series but defenseman Torey Krug, who has 12 points in 11 playoff games, suffered a left ankle injury after crashing into the boards feet first on Friday. He has been ruled out for the rest of the series, perhaps giving veteran blue liner Nick Holden a spot in the lineup. Left wing Brad Marchand had a pair of assists Friday and boasts eight points in the series (17 in the postseason), but has managed only seven shots on goal overall in the four games. Left wing Rick Nash, who has five goals and four assists in his last four playoff games at Tampa Bay, scored twice in Game 1 but has been held to one assist since.
Tampa Bay: The Lightning's top line is beginning to produce after a slow start to the series, as Nikita Kucherov scored on the power play and Stamkos had a goal for the second straight contest. “Our line has been talking a lot about wanting to have a better game,” Stamkos said of his unit that includes J.T. Miller. “Obviously, it’s not a matter of will. We knew eventually it was going to come.” Defenseman Victor Hedman did not have a point in the first playoff series, but has recorded five assists in the last four games against Boston to become the franchise’s postseason leader in that category (36).
The pick: Here's some really good news for Lightning fans. They return home for Game 5 on Sunday afternoon at Amalie Arena with history on their side, as no Lightning team has ever blown a 3-1 lead in the playoffs and the Bruins are 0-23 in series they trailed 3-1. What's more, Boston will have to stay alive without arguably their best defenseman in Torey Krug (see above). The Lightning's quick dismissal of New Jersey in the opening round gave them a full week of rest before this series and if they can dispatch the Bruins on Sunday, they can rest again, with all the other series going at least six games. It all sounds juts "too good" for me. “Desperate hockey,” explained Boston center Patrice Bergeron of the mindset for Sunday. “You know we’ve shown character all year. You know I’ve spoken about the resilience in this room, so it’s time to show it.” Take the 1 1/2 goals and make Boston a 6* play.
|04-27-18||Jets +1.5 v. Predators||Top||4-1||Win||100||12 h 59 m||Show|
The set-up: The Nashville Predators were an 8-seed in the West last season but made an impressive Stanley Cup run that didn't end until Game 6 of the Finals! Nashville built off last year's playoff success and entered this year's playoffs as the team with the most points (117) of any NHL club during the regular season. The Winnipeg Jets entered the Stanley Cup playoffs as a legitimate championship contender, after putting together the greatest regular season in franchise history by going 52-20-10. The team's 114 points did fall three shy of that of the Central Division-winning Nashville Predators but the Jets accumulated more points than any other NHL team save the Preds! The two Central Division rivals combined for 231 points during fantastic regular seasons, setting up what is expected to be an entertaining Western Conference semifinal. The Nashville Predators will host the Winnipeg Jets in the series opener tonight, after finishing 3-1-1 against them in the regular season. Each team owns one victory on road ice and the two combined for 41 goals in those five games, a testament to the offensive firepower on both rosters considering both teams have Vezina Trophy finalists in Pekka Rinne of the Predators and Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck.
Winnipeg: The Jets had four players finish with 60-plus points, including the NHL co-leader in assists (Blake Wheeler had 68) and the second-highest goal scorer in the league (Patrik Laine had 44). Winnipeg smothered Minnesota in the opening round with waves of offense, getting three points or more from seven players in the five games, led by four goals and an assist from center Mark Scheifele and a pair of goals from Laine along with defenseman Tyler Myers. Hellebuyck did not face tremendous pressure for large stretches of the series but even though he was pulled from Game 3 he still finished with a .924 save percentage and a 1.93 goals against average. After the Wild won Game 3 by a 6-2 score, Hellebuyck posted back-to-back shutout victories, 2-0 and 5-0.
Nashville: The Predators finished the regular season with eight players recording 40 or more points, including a pair of defensemen (Roman Josi and P.K. Subban). Forsberg lead the team with 64 points and Arvidsson led with 26 goals. Nashville had to go six games before eliminating Colorado, doing so emphatically Sunday with a 5-0 decision that included Pekka Rinne's fourth career playoff shutout and three points for the first time in 81 postseason games for center Nick Bonino. One aspect Nashville hopes to improve on from its first-round victory over Colorado is its second line, as Fiala, center Kyle Turris and forward Craig Smith combined for just five points. Forward Austin Watson and center Colton Sissons were fantastic in the first round, combining for seven goals and 14 points, while Rinne shook off a rough performance in Game 3 to stop 140-of-154 shots on goal (.909 SP).
The pick: As befits a matchup of the teams with the league's top point totals, there simply isn't much difference across the board. The Jets were second in the NHL in goals and the Predators were seventh. Nashville was second in the league in fewest goals allowed and Winnipeg was fifth. I'm taking the 1 1/2 goals and making Winnipeg a 6* play.
|04-25-18||Maple Leafs +1.5 v. Bruins||Top||4-7||Loss||-190||12 h 57 m||Show|
The set-up:The Toronto Maple Leafs have faced series' deficits of 2-0 and 3-1 against the Boston Bruins but the Maple Leafs staved off elimination with a 4-3 win at Boston in Game 5, before prevailing 3-1 on Monday night. Toronto has not won a postseason series since 2004 but the Maple Leafs can end that a streak tonight when they visit the Boston Bruins in a winner-take-all Game 7 of their Eastern Conference first-round series. It appeared the Bruins would make it a short series after winning the opening two games by a combined 12-4 but the Bruins now find themselves in a Game 7.
Toronto: Frederik Andersen entered the series with a 10-1-0 record against Boston, but he was pierced early and often before turning in superb performances in the past two outings, making 42 saves in Game 5 and turning aside 32 of 33 shots in Game 6. Mitch Marner is riding the momentum of a stellar series, delivering the tie-breaking score Monday to give him two goals and six assists during a five-game point streak. Leo Komarov is ready to return after sitting out four games but coach Mike Babcock will wait until Wednesday to make a decision on him.
Boston: The Bruins insist they remain confident. “If anybody would have told us at the start of the year that we’d be going into a Game 7 in the first round at home, we would have taken it," Boston forward Brad Marchand said. "Whatever has happened in the last six games doesn’t mean anything. ... It’s going to be a challenge. They’re a great team and they’ve played really well in this series. It’s gonna be fun and we’re looking forward to it.” Boston's top line of Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak amassed a staggering 20 points in the first two games of the series, but the unit has been held off the scoresheet in each of the three losses while posting a minus-16 in those games.
The pick: The last time Original Six rivals Boston and Toronto met in the postseason, the Bruins needed a miraculous comeback in the final minutes of Game 7 before ousting the Maple Leafs in OT. Now, five years later, Toronto was in position of needing a miracle comeback of its own, trailing this best-of-seven series 3-1 heading into Saturday's Game 5 at Boston's TD Garden. However, the Maple Leafs needed to only look to the past for inspiration, as they also trailed the series 3-1 in 2013, before winning Games 5 and 6 only to become the first team in history to cough up a three-goal third-period lead in Game 7 ( blew a two-goal lead in the final 90 seconds!). This series has been eerily reminiscent of that 2013 meeting. Why should it end differently than five years ago? After converting on 5 of 10 power plays in the first two games, Boston is 1-for-9 on the power play over the past four games. What's more, while Toronto's Andersen has been 'lights out' the last two games, note that Boston goalie ruins G Tuukka Rask is 5-12 in elimination games.I took the Maple Leafs in Game 5 and in Game 6, saying " this series is headed back to Boston for a Game 7." Why should I back off here? I will slightly though, by taking the 1 1/2 goals and making Toronto a 6* play.
|04-21-18||Maple Leafs +1.5 v. Bruins||Top||4-3||Win||100||13 h 37 m||Show|
The set-up: The Boston Bruins blew a chance at capturing the East's No. 1 seed when they lost a home contest to the Panthers in the team's final game of the regular season. However, The Bruins regrouped quickly and won the first two games of their series with the Maple Leafs, 5-1 and 7-3. The series shifted to Toronto for Game 3, where the Maple Leafs were able to reverse the momentum of the series with a 4-2 home win on Monday night. Toronto had a chance to level the best-of-seven series in Game 4 on Thursday night but come to Boston for Saturday's Game 5 lamenting a missed opportunity in Thursday's 3-1 setback, despite the Bruins playing without the team's top-line center, Patrice Bergeron (he was a late-scratch with an upper body injury).
Toronto: The Maple Leafs will receive a boost with the return of center Nazem Kadri, a 32-goal scorer during the regular season who received a three-game suspension for a dangerous hit on Boston's Tommy Wingels in the series opener. Kadri's return will mean a demotion for Tomas Plekanec, who scored the team's only goal Thursday (but it was his first since he was acquired from Montreal). Auston Matthews had 63 points in 62 regular season games this year but has just one goal in teh series, being held off the scoresheet in three of the four games. The team's leading goal score, van Riensdyk (36), has a modest two goals in the series, his only points.
Boston: Bergeron, who is up for his fifth Selke Trophy as the game's best defensive forward, collected five assists in the first two games but with Riley Nash taking his place, Brad Marchand scored a goal and David Pastrnak continued his brilliant play with two assists to bump his series point total up to 11. Bergeron skated on his own Friday, which was called a "positive" by head coach Bruce Cassidy, who said he will make a decision on the four-time Selke Trophy winner's status at Saturday's morning skate. Goaltender Tuukka Rask has been overshadowed by the offensive exploits through much of the series but he answered the call in Game 4 by turning aside 31 of 32 shots in what Marchand termed a "phenomenal game. He’s one of the best goalies in the world and he gives us an opportunity to win every night.”
The pick: The last time Original Six rivals Boston and Toronto met in the postseason, the Bruins needed a miraculous comeback in the final minutes of Game 7 before ousting the Maple Leafs in overtime. Five years later, Toronto is in position of needing a miracle comeback of its own, trailing this best-of-seven series 3-1 heading into Saturday's Game 5 at Boston's TD Garden. The Maple Leafs can look to the past for inspiration, as they also trailed the series 3-1 in 2013, before blowing a two-goal lead in the final 90 seconds of Game 7! Take the 1 1/2 goals and make Toronto an 8* play.
|04-14-18||Maple Leafs +1.5 v. Bruins||Top||3-7||Loss||-185||12 h 28 m||Show|
The set-up: The Boston Bruins were the best team in hockey for a long stretch of the season but with the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference there for the taking at home last Sunday against the Panthers, Boston lost 4-2. In fact, the Bruins lost four of their final five games, including that season-ending loss to Florida. However, they showed no carry-over effects from their late-season slump in their playoff opener. The Bruins turned in a dominating performance (40 shots on goal) in a 5-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. Toronto's chances of earning a split in Boston and climbing back into the series received a jarring setback when 32-goal scorer Nazem Kadri was handed a three-game suspension Friday for a dangerous hit on Bruins forward Tommy Wingels in the third period. The 49-26-7 Toronto Maple Leafs finished 3rd in Atlantic, led by an offense which averaged 3.29 GPG (4th).
Toronto: Head coach Mike Babcock shuffled three of his four lines at Friday's practice, anticipating the suspension of Kadri. Former overall No. 1 pick Auston Matthews missed 20 games to injury in his second season but still finished second on the team with 34 goals (points) and showed no rust in his return from a month-long absence, collecting at least one point in his final nine games. However, he, along with his teammates, were quiet in Game 1. Kadri was expected to be a big key for Toronto and his absence will hurt. Frederik Andersen is a quality goalie and went 38-21-5 during the regular season (2.81 GAA & .918 SP). However, he was peppered with 40 shots and allowed five goals in Game 1 (.875 SP).
Boston: The Bruins were clearly slumping at the wrong time but they were superb in Game 1. After all, they still finished with 112 points, won at least four straight on five different occasions and amassed an 18-game point streak. Boston's No. 1 line has set the tone all season and little changed in Game 1 as David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron combined for six points, with Pastrnak scoring once and setting up a pair of goals. Bergeron, Brad Marchand (team-high 85 points) and David Pastrnak (team-high 35 goals) each scored at least 30 goals aduring the regular season. Former Vezina Trophy winner Tuukka Rask put together point streaks of 21 (19-0-2) and 11 games (10-0-1) but entered the playoffs having lost his last three starts, including that very important game last Sunday to Florida on home ice. He was sure fine in Game 1, stopping 26 of 27 shots (.963 SP).
The pick: I'm not ready to bury the Maple Leafs just yet. Frederick Andersen entered the season a perfect 9-0-0 against Boston and won two of three matchups this season, surrendering a combined eight goals.He was far from at his best in Game 1 but it was hardly all his fault. I'm going to again take the 1 1/2 goals (I did in Game 1, as well) with Toronto and make them an 8* play.
|04-12-18||Maple Leafs +1.5 v. Bruins||Top||1-5||Loss||-208||24 h 38 m||Show|
The set-up: The 49-26-7 Toronto Maple Leafs (3rd in Atlantic) will open their seven-game first round series with the 50-20-12 Boston Bruins (2nd in the Atlantic) Thursday night at the TD Garden. The high-scoring Maple Leafs (3.29 GPG ranks 4th), will present a tough test for Boston, as they won three of four against Bruins this season and pushed top-seeded Washington to six games a year ago. "We're just not happy to be here," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. "The guys got a real belief in the room. They've earned the right, because of the way the season's gone, to feel like that. So, I think that's a little bit different feeling than we had at this time (last year)." Boston was the best team in hockey for a long stretch of the season but with the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference there for the taking at home last Sunday against the Panthers, Boston lost 4-2. In fact, the Bruins lost four of their final five games, including that season-ending loss to Florida.
Toronto: Former overall No. 1 pick Auston Matthews missed 20 games to injury in his second season but still finished second on the team with 34 goals (points) and showed no rust in his return from a month-long absence, collecting at least one point in his final nine games. A big key for Toronto could be the No. 2 line centered by Nazem Kadri, who matched a career best with 32 goals and is joined by veteran Patrick Marleau (27 goals) and second-year forward Mitch Marner, the team's leading scorer with 69 points. Frederik Andersen is a quality goalie and went 38-21-5 during the regular season (2.81 GAA & .918 SP).
Boston: The Bruins clearly slumped at the wrong time in the season's final five games but they still finished with 112 points, won at least four straight on five different occasions and amassed an 18-game point streak. The Bruins have been one of the NHL's better defensive teams (2.57 GPG allowed ranks 4th) but they alos own more than enough offensive firepower. The No. 1 line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand (team-high 85 points) and David Pastrnak (team-high 35 goals) saw each score at least 30 goals and were the team's top three point producers. Forward Rick Nash, acquired in a blockbuster trade with the New York Rangers, practiced for the last two days after missing the final 12 games due to a concussion and is expected back in the lineup. Former Vezina Trophy winner Tuukka Rask put together point streaks of 21 (19-0-2) and 11 games (10-0-1) but enters having lost his last three starts, including that very important game last Sunday to Florida on home ice.
The pick: Speaking of home ice, the Bruins went an impressive 28-8-5 at home this season, averaging 3.59 GPG. However, Frederik Toronto's Frederik Andersen entered the season a perfect 9-0-0 against Boston and won two of three matchups this season, surrendering a combined eight goals. Meanwhile, not only has Rask stumbled in his last three starts (allowing 11 goals) but he has just one win in his last six starts against the Maple Leafs the last two seasons. Take the 1 1/2 goals and make Toronto a 6* play.
|04-07-18||Canucks +1.5 v. Oilers||Top||2-3||Win||100||11 h 35 m||Show|
The set-up: The Sedin twins - Daniel and Henrik - play their final game when the Vancouver Canucks visit the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. The Sedins provided the Vancouver faithful with a lasting memory when Daniel scored twice, including the winner in overtime, and Henrik assisted on both as the Canucks defeated Arizona 4-3 on Thursday at an emotion-filled Rogers Arena. The Sedins, who played with dignity, style and grace for 17 seasons - all with the Canucks, announced their retirement Monday before providing a storybook ending to the home portion of their careers. The question to be answered here is, can they deliver an encore performance tonight in Edmonton, against the Oilers? Edmonton, like Vancouver, will miss the playoffs in a season in which many believed it could contend for the Stanley Cup. The Oilers finished with 103 points last season but will play their final game of the current season at 35-40-6, giving them only 76 points.
Vancouver: Daniel Sedin shares the team lead in points (55) with rookie Brock Boeser (team-high 29 goals), who has been out since March 5 because of a back injury. Henrik is third with 50 points and his 830 career assists - including a club-high 47 this season - are good for 26th on the NHL's all-time list. Both Sedins have bedeviled Edmonton for nearly 20 years. Henrik has 17 goals and 67 assists in 95 games, while Daniel has 37 goals and 47 assists in 92 games.
Edmonton: The lone highlight for the Oilers this season will be Connor McDavid winning his second straight Art Ross Trophy as the league's top point-getter. His 106 points (41 goals) give him a sizable lead in the Art Ross race. "I don't think anybody is missing the fact that he's been a dominant player, night in and night out,'' Edmonton head coach Todd McLellan told reporters about McDavid. "The odd, tough game when you have to really fight through that checking line or that checking pair, but man, he's been a tremendous spark plug for our team and most of our offense runs through him." McDavid had three assists in Thursday's 4-3 victory over Vegas, giving him 14 goals and 21 assists in his last 20 games.
The pick: Vancouver has won two of the first three meetings this season with the Sedins combining for a goal (Daniel) and two assists. Daniel's 37 regular-season goals versus Edmonton are his most against any team. Let's stick with the "storybook ending" and take the 1 1/2 goals and make Vancouver an 8* play.
|04-06-18||Blues v. Blackhawks +1.5||Top||4-1||Loss||-215||12 h 10 m||Show|
The set-up: The St. Louis Blues have lost four straight and at 43-31-6 on the season, find themselves against the ropes in a bid to secure the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Blues have 92 points, one point behind the Avalanche for the final wild-card spot. St. Louis' most recent loss saw Chicago storm back from a two-goal deficit for a 4-3 victory. Defenseman Duncan Keith scored in the final seconds to complete the comeback and weaken the Blues' playoff chances. St. Louis goaltender Jake Allen took the blame for the loss (more later). The Blues play tonight in Chicago and then finish the season with a Saturday road game in Colorado. The 33-37-10 Blackhawks have just three wins in their last 10 outings (3-5-2), as they head toward their first spring without a playoff appearance since 2007-08. However, the team did address its future on Thursday by announcing that senior vice president/general manager Stan Bowman and head coach Joel Quenneville will remain in their current positions next season.
St. Louis: Vladimir Tarasenko joined Brayden Schenn by scoring and setting up a goal on Wednesday in the loss to the Blackhawks. Tarasenko has a team-high 33 goals but his 66 points are one behind team leader, Schenn. Schenn continued his career season with 10 points in his last 12 games, boosting his personal-best totals in goals (27), assists (40) and points (67). Getting back to Allen taking the blame for the loss, other Blues players said nerves might have played a role. "If you're going to play nervous, then you better play smart," St. Louis coach Mike Yeo said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It (stinks), but at the end of the day, we have to stay positive," Blues center Brayden Schenn said. "Two-game winning streak here to get into the postseason." Allen is expected to get another chance in net Friday for St. Louis. The 27-year-old is 27-24-3 with a 2.74 goals-against average and .906 save percentage in 58 games (55 starts) on the season
Chicago: Tonight's contest at the United Center is the finale of the home-and-home series. Rookie Alex DeBrincat, who had a hat trick in a 5-4 overtime loss to St. Louis on March 18, scored and set up a goal on Wednesday to boost his point total to 10 (six goals, four assists) in his past nine games. DeBrincat's owns a team-leading 28 goals are one more than former Hart Trophy recipient Patrick Kane, who has a team-leading 74 points. Jonathan Toews has 52 points (as does DeBrincat), while Nick Schmaltz has 51 points (21 goals).
The pick: St. Louis has won five of its last seven trips to the United Center (including the postseason) but knowing it can make the playoffs by winning tomorrow night in Colorado, make teh Blues a shaky investment in this contest. Allen is expected to be in net for the Blues and he is 8-5-1 with a 2.53 GAA and .915 save percentage. However, he also comes in winless in his last four contests. The Blackhawks have been eliminated from playoff contention for the first time in a decade but it is safe to assume that a pride-filled Chicago roster will energized (as will be the crowd) at the possibility of crushing the postseason hopes of its longtime division rival. "It'd be nice to see them miss the playoffs," Blackhawks right winger Patrick Kane said to the Chicago Sun-Times this week. "So it'd be nice to have a hand in that." Take the 1 1/2 goals and make Chicago a 6* play.
|04-01-18||Devils v. Canadiens +1.5||Top||2-1||Win||100||11 h 10 m||Show|
The set-up: The New Jersey Devils completed a 3-0-1 homestand with Saturday's 4-3 triumph over the New York Islanders. The victory moved the 41-28-9 Devils five points ahead of Florida for the second wild card and pulled it within one of Philadelphia for the first spot with four games remaining. New Jersey hopes to tighten its hold on a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference when they Devils visit the 28-38-12 Montreal Canadiens on Sunday. The Canadiens won the Atlantic Division with 103 points last season but the team's 68 points this season, are better than only two other clubs in the 16-team Eastern Conference.
New Jersey: Taylor Hall, a candidate for the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player, continued his torrid pace Saturday as he scored twice to increase his career-high totals to 36 goals and 88 points while helping the Devils climb within three points of Columbus for third place in the Metropolitan Division. Will Butcher notched a pair of assists against the Islanders to set the franchise record for most by a rookie defenseman (39). Kyle Palmieri had his three-game goal-scoring streak snapped Saturday but registered an assist to extend his point run to four contests before leaving midway through the third period after being clipped under his eye by the stick of captain Andy Greene. Blake Coleman scored the team's 11th short-handed goal of the season Saturday, tying it with Edmonton for the league lead.
Montreal: The Canadiens are kicking off a two-game homestand, before ending the season with a pair of contests on the road. Montreal dropped a 5-2 decision at Pittsburgh on Saturday, marking its third loss to the Penguins in 17 days.Brendan Gallagher recorded two assists against Pittsburgh to extend his point streak to five games (he's reached the 50-point plateau for the first time in his career with 51). Defenseman David Schlemko returned to the lineup Saturday after missing 12 games with an upper-body injury and blocked two shots while posting a minus-2 rating in 17 minutes, 17 seconds of ice time.
The pick: Both the Devils and the Canadiens will be playing the second of back-to-back games but only the Devils have something to play for. What's more, the Devils are 20-14-5 on the road this season, tied for the third-most victories away from home in the Eastern Conference behind only the Tampa Bay Lighting (25) and the Boston Bruins (22). That said, the Devils are allowing 3.10 GPG on the road this season, while the Cnadiens have been OK on home ice, going 18-13-8. I'm taking the 1 1/2 goals and will make Montreal a 6* play.
|03-30-18||Hurricanes +1.5 v. Capitals||Top||4-1||Win||100||11 h 22 m||Show|
The set-up: The surging Washington Capitals are the two-time reigning Presidents' Trophy winners. The Caps won't earn that distinction in 2018 but they are closing in on their third consecutive Metropolitan Division title. The 46-24-7 Capitals are five points ahead of the two-time defending champion Penguins (99-to-94 points), as they look to extend their winning streak to a season-high six games tonight, when they host the Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina's playoff hopes unraveled after the Hurricanes lost 11 of 14 starting in mid-February and now, even if they win their final five games, they will be mathematically eliminated from contention if New Jersey earns one point over its last five games (Good night, nurse!).
Carolina: The Hurricanes saw their three-game winning streak end Tuesday night in a 4-3 loss at New Jersey. Noah Hanifin, Phillip Di Giuseppe and Warren Foegele scored for the Hurricanes, and Scott Darling made 41 saves. Forward Phillip Di Giuseppe has come alive by netting three goals and setting up three others in the past four contests, after managing just one goal and one assist in an 18-game span. He owns just five goals and five assists in 44 games. The team's top-two scorers are Aho (27 goals and 63 points) and Teravainen (23 goals and 61 points). Rookie Warren Foegele has scored in each of his first two NHL games but he was sent back to Charlotte of the American Hockey League on Thursday.
Washington: The Caps completed a home-and-home sweep of the New York Rangers on Wednesday night (3-2 OT win) to improve to 9-1-0 over their last 10 games With Philipp Grubauer ailing, Washington needed Braden Holtby to come up with a solid effort and he delivered with 35 saves against New York. However, it marked only the second time in 11 starts that Holtby has yielded fewer than three goals. Alex Ovechkin leads with 45 goals and 83 points plus Nicklas Backstrom has eight assists during a three-game point streak and is four shy of reaching 50 for the fifth straight season (19 goals and 46 assists).
The pick: Carolian will certainly fall short of the playoffs but the Hurricanes did skate to a 3-1 victory in their last visit to Washington on Jan. 11.As noted above, Holtby has been far from great in goal as of late for Washington, while veteran Cam Ward has won his last three starst for Caroina. I'll take teh 1 1/2 goals and make the Hurricanes an 8* play.
|03-14-18||Canucks +1.5 v. Ducks||Top||0-3||Loss||-138||14 h 16 m||Show|
The set-up: The Anaheim Ducks have dropped outside of the playoff picture in the Western Conference in the wake of a three-game losing streak. The 34-24-12 Ducks have 80 points and were on a nine-game point streak at home prior to Monday's 4-2 loss to St. Louis, which dropped them below the top eight teams in the West and behind third-place Los Angeles in the Pacific Division. The Ducks hope to get back on track tonight when they welcome the 25-36-9 Vancouver Canucks to the Honda Center. Vancouver limps in having lost all four games since rookie sensation Brock Boeser suffered a back injury. The Canucks have been shut out in back-to-back contests and have managed only three goals during the four-game slide since Boeser and his 29 goals were lost for at least a month.
Vancouver: The Canucks' 59 points are better than only Arizona (57) and Buffalo (56) in the entire league. Clearly, the absence of Boeser has stalled the offense and head coach Travis Green acknowledged the team's psyche has been dented by the lack of scoring. "It's going to weigh on them," Green said. Daniel Sedin is second on the team with 47 points (Boeser leads with 55) but has cooled off with one assist in the last five games. His brother Henrik has 43 points, although just two goals.
Anaheim: The Ducks are also struggling to put the puck in the net, having scored just five times during the team's three-game slide. Forward Ondrej Kase (17 goals & 31 points) is in a 'deep freeze,' having been held off the scoresheet in 10 straight contests, following a stretch in which he pumped in six goals in seven games. Center Ryan Getzlaf (10 goals & 51 points) registered an assist in the loss to St. Louis and is riding a six-game point streak, collecting a pair of goals and 11 assists in that span. The Ducks' leading goal scorer is Rickard Rakel (31 goals).
The pick: Anaheim has won its last three meetings over Vancouver by a combined 13-2 margin but entering this game, neither team is scoring. With leading scorer Brock Boeser sidelined for the rest of the season with a back injury, the Canucks lack the offensive depth to threaten playoff contenders. Anaheim is clearly a playoff contender but I'm far from confident after the team's latest efforts. Take the 1 1/2 goals and make Vancouver an 8* play.
|03-10-18||Rangers +1.5 v. Panthers||Top||3-4||Win||100||12 h 45 m||Show|
The set-up: The 30-32-6 NY Rangers have 66 points and find themselves last in the Metropolitan Division, 10 points out of the East's final wild card spot. Meanwhile, the Florida Panthers are 14-3-1 over their last 18 games and at 33-25-7, the team's 73 points now have them just three points shy of that final wild card spot. The Panthers will host the Rangers on Saturday, looking to record a franchise-record eighth straight home win .
NY Rangers: After earning 102 points last season, New York's fortunes have been far from very positive this season. The Rangers have made the playoffs in each of the past seven seasons but appear destined to miss out at this year. They have lost nine of their past 12 games and raised the white flag of surrender last month when they traded many of their stars in exchange for draft picks, young players and hope for the future. Among the players traded away were star defenseman Ryan McDonagh and top-six forwards J.T. Miller, Michael Grabner and Rick Nash. However, Ryan Spooner is making quite the impression as he continued his torrid stretch on Thursday with a goal and two assists. He has 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in six games since being acquired from Boston on Feb. 25. Fellow forward Kevin Hayes scored and set up a goal versus the Lightning in a 5-3 Thursday loss, boosting his career-high goal total to 19 this season and his point total to 14 (eight goals, six assists) in his past 14 games.
Florida: The Panthers have sizzled since the All-Star break. Roberto Luongo turned aside all 40 shots he faced in Thursday's 5-0 romp over Montreal to improve his save percentage to .938 in his last 19 games. Evgenii Dadonov and fellow forward Vincent Trocheck each scored and set up a goal, giving the former 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in his past 13 games while the latter has 12 (eight goals, four assists) in that stretch. Frank Vatrano has been sidelined since Feb. 6 with a high-ankle sprain but is expected to make his debut with his new team on Saturday. Vatrano was acquired from the Bruins on Feb. 22 for a third-round pick. Vatrano is expected to be paired on the team's second line with Jonathan Huberdeau (career-best 21 goals) and Trocheck (team-leading 26 goals).
The pick: No doubt that the Panthers are the better (hotter) team right now but the Rangers own a 10-2-2 mark against the Panthers since the start of the 2013-14 season. Also, Henrik Lundqvist (the 2012 Vezina Trophy recipient), sports a 17-5-1 mark with two shutouts in his last 24 appearances versus Florida. Take the 1 1/2 goals and make the Rangers an 8* play.
|02-15-18||Oilers +1.5 v. Golden Knights||Top||1-4||Loss||-155||14 h 29 m||Show|
The set-up: The Edmonton Oilers were expected to be among the top contenders for the Pacific Division title, coming off a 103-point season last year. In contrast, the expansion Vegas Golden Knights were a great unknown, with little expected of them. However, lo and behold, when the teams square off Thursday night in Las Vegas, the 23-28-4 Oilers find themselves a staggering 28 points behind the division-leading 37-15-4 Golden Knights. The fortunes of each team were on display in their respective most recent games. Vegas scored four unanswered goals in the third period of a 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks to improve to an NHL-best 20-4-2 at home. Conversely, Edmonton surrendered four third-period goals to visiting Florida in a 7-5 loss on Monday. As the saying goes, "Go figure!"
Edmonton: The loss to Florida was Edmonton's fourth consecutive defeat. "It's frustrating for everyone in this room and the coaching staff," Oilers forward Patrick Maroon said after the game. "Everyone is not happy with our results of late." Cam Talbot, who has lost three starts in a row and saw his goals-against average rise to a career-worst 3.17 after he was beaten six times in Monday's loss to Florida, pointed the finger squarely at himself. "I'd say about four of them I'd like to have back," Talbot said. "Any time you go out and score five goals, you should win a game every night. I didn't give us a chance to win tonight." Connor McDavid has eight tallies and four assists in the last six games, and is having another outstanding season (23 goals and 66 points) but his play has mattered little.
Vegas: David Perron scored one goal and set up another in Tuesday's victory to reach 50 points for the third time in his career (14 goals & 37 assists). Perron has been on a scoring spree over the past month, notching five goals and 12 assists over the past 13 games dating to Jan. 18. The Knights are also receiving scoring from an unexpected source in Ryan Carpenter, a waiver-wire pickup from San Jose, has all three of his goals in the last five games. William Karlsson owns a team-high 29 goals and Jonathan Marchessault owns a team-best 54 points. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is 17-6-2 (2.07 GAA & .932 SP) on the season.
The pick: Vegas is 13-1-1 against Pacific Division teams during its remarkable inaugural season but the fly in the ointment has been Edmonton. The Oilers who are 2-0 against the Golden Knights, winning 8-2 at Rogers Place on Nov. 14 (the worst loss in Vegas' short history) and 3-2 in overtime at T-Mobile Arena on Jan. 13. Take the 1 1/2 goals and make the Oilers an 8* play.
|01-22-18||Senators +1.5 v. Wild||Top||1-3||Loss||-170||13 h 45 m||Show|
The set-up: The 25-17-5 Minnesota Wild will conclude a four-game homestand Monday with hopes of extending their point streak to six contests when they host the 15-20-9 Ottawa Senators. Minnesota is 2-0-1 on its current stretch at Xcel Energy Center, after improving to 3-0-2 in its last five overall with Saturday's 5-2 triumph over Tampa Bay. Meanwhile, Ottawa looks to avoid a third straight loss after dropping a 4-3 home decision to Toronto on Saturday. Neither team is currently inside the playoff cut line, although the Wild's 55 points have them tied with the Avs and Kings for the West's final spot, with Colorado currently owning the tiebreaker. As for the Senators, their 39 points leave them 15th of 16 teams in the East, 14 points out of playoff consideration.
Ottawa: The Senators have lost three of four and have drifting out of the playoff picture. Reports surfaced this week that general manager Pierre Dorion is meeting privately with players in anticipation that the Senators will be sellers at the trade deadline, although head coach Guy Boucher would not elaborate on those conversations. "What we do inside is not something I talk about outside," Boucher said after Saturday's 4-3 home loss to Toronto. "Whether we talk to a few guys or whether we decide to ... that's internal stuff."
Minnesota: Marcus Foligno ended a lengthy goal-scoring drought for the Wild in the win over the Lightning, tallying for the first time since Nov. 2, which halted a 33-game string of futility. Zach Parise recorded his first goal since returning from offseason back surgery on Saturday, giving him two points in eight contests this campaign. Veteran center Matt Cullen notched an assist versus the Lightning to end his six-game point drought and reach 700 for his career.
The pick: The Wild are unbeaten in regulation in their last eight at home (6-0-2) and have earned at least one point in 16 of their last 17 home games (13-1-3). However, I'm taking a shot with the Senators in this one, taking the 1 1/2 goals and making Ottawa an 8* play.
|12-05-17||Islanders +1.5 v. Lightning||Top||2-6||Loss||-180||22 h 3 m||Show|
The set-up: Both the NY Islanders and the Tampa Bay Lightning failed to make the playoffs last season. However, both teams' strong starts make it look as if that won't be an issue here in the 2017-18 season. The Islanders have earned at least one point in five of their last six games (4-1-1) after grinding out a 5-4 shootout victory at Florida on Monday. New York sits at 16-8-2 and the team's 34 points has them in second-place in the Metropolitan Division, one point behind first-place Columbus. Things have not gone a smoothly lately for the Lightning, although they snapped out of a 2-4-0 mini-slump Saturday in a 5-2 victory over San Jose. Tampa Bay is 18-6-2 and its 38 point not only has them in first in the Atlantic Division but the Lightning are tied with Winnipeg for the most points in the NHL.
NY Islanders: Anders Lee extended his goal-scoring streak to four games in Monday's win with his fifth tally in that span and captain John Tavares netted his team-leading 17th, as New York won for the fifth time in its last six on the road. Josh Bailey notched an assist in Monday’s victory and leads the team with 31 points, including 13 in his last nine games, and Tavares is just one behind his linemate. Lee’s goal against Florida was his 100th in the NHL and defenseman Nick Leddy notched an assist to give him 12 points in his last 10 contests. Goalie Thomas Greiss (8-2-2, 3.61 GAA & .896 SP) sat out Monday’s win but will likely get the start after making 36 saves against Tampa Bay in mid-November to improve to 4-2-0 lifetime versus the Lightning.
Tampa Bay: Nikita Kucherov moved onto the line with center Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat and tallied twice while Tyler Johnson was switched from third-line center to right wing with captain Steven Stamkos and Vladislav Namestnikov and scored a pair of goals Johnson’s two tallies snapped a 15-game goal-scoring drought during which he posted a minus-5 rating and registered 24 shots. “That’s how hockey goes,” Johnson told reporters. “Sometimes you get the chances and the bounces don’t go your way, and other times you kind of get those garbage goals that find a way to go in."
The pick: Andrei Vasilevskiy (17-4-1, 2.22 GAA & .932 SP) is expected to be in goal for Tamp Bay and as you can see, his numbers are significantly better than Greiss'. However, the Lightning were 15-2-2 the last time the Islanders visited Amalie Arena (Nov. 18), with New York skating away with a 5-3 victory. The Islanders have overtaken the Lightning as the league's top scoring team (New York averages 3.73 GPG and Tampa Bay, 3.62) and I'm taking the 1 1/2-goals. Make the Islanders a 6* play.
|11-09-17||Coyotes +1.5 v. Blues||Top||2-3||Win||100||20 h 32 m||Show|
The set-up: The Arizona Coyotes are 2-13-2. giving them not only the worst record among all Western Conference teams but also the worst record in the entire NHL. They travel to St. Louis tonight to take on the Blues, owners of the West's best record at 12-3-1. The Blues' 25 points are just one shy of Atlantic Division leader Tampa Bay, which owns the NHL's best record at 12-2-2 (26 points). The Coyotes limp in 1-8-1 on the road so far, while the Blues are 6-1-0 at home plus come in 8-1-1 in their last 10 overall contests.
Ariziona: First-year Arizona head coach Rick Tocchet is trying to take a patient approach to the Coyotes' performance, looking for small ways that the team can improve. Does he have another option? "Been here a couple months and one thing I noticed, I don't want us to be a perimeter team," Tocchet told NHL.com after the Coyotes' most recent loss, 3-1 to the Penguins on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. "You have to go to the net. You have to be good along the walls. That's something that we as an organization, we have to get better at. I have to teach it better because you can't win in this league unless you have people that go to the net or you win battles along the wall." Surely a bright spot has been the play of 19-year-old rookie Clayton Keller, who has scored 11 goals and contributed six assists. Only one other player on the team has scored more than three goals. No. 1 goaltender Antti Raanta has his work cut out for himself, as with Arizona's 2.4 goals per game ranking 29th in the league and its 28th-ranked penalty kill (only 75.0 percent), he rarely has any margin of error.
St. Louis: The Blues have won 12 of their first 16 games of a season for the first time in franchise history while the team's 25 points after that stretch ties a club record. Goalie Jake Allen has stepped up his game with a 5-1-0 mark, 1.84 goals-against average and .933 save percentage in his last six starts. Brayden Schenn, who will play in his 450th career game on Thursday, followed up a four-assist performance in St. Louis' 6-4 win over Toronto on Saturday by joining Vladimir Tarasenko with a three-point effort in a 3-1 triumph at New Jersey three nights later. "It's been fun, two guys with tons of skill," Schenn said of Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz, a line that has accounted for 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in the last two games.
The pick: The Blues outscored the Coyotes 10-2 en route to winning all three meetings last season, making the results of their head-to-head games in recent yearstotally one-sided. also have been one-sided. St. Louis has won 10 of its past 11 meetings with Arizona plus goalie Jake Allen has turned aside a staggering 174 of 181 shots (.961 SP) to record two shutouts and win all seven career encounters with teh Coyotes, Any chance here for Arizona? Antti Raanta stumbled out of the blocks in his 100th career game on Tuesday, yielding two goals in the first 3:07 of the contest before settling in for the night against the Penguins, in a 3-1 loss. However, he's faced 37 shots in each of his last two games, allowing a modest four goals, for .946 SP. I'm taking the 1 1/2 goals and making Arizona an 8* play.
|11-02-17||Golden Knights +1.5 v. Bruins||Top||1-2||Win||100||19 h 44 m||Show|
The set-up: The expansion Vegas Golden Knights are 8-3-0, a record made more remarkable by the goaltender 'carousel' they've had to deal with. The Golden Knights will visit the TD Garden on Thursday night to play the 4-3-3 Boston Bruins, who have their own health issues of late. Both teams will be looking to snap two-game losing skids in tonight's contest. The Bruins wil be playing with revenge, as they lost in Las Vegas 3-1 back on Oct. 15.
Vegas: The Golden Knights left Nevada with an 8-1-0 overall mark, after finishing a 6-1-0 homestand. However, they were 0-2 in New York, losing 6-3 to the Islanders in Brooklyn on Monday after leading 2-1 late in the second period and then squandered a two-goal third-period lead and fell 6-4 to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. Maxime Lagace became the fourth goaltender to start for the Golden Knights this season after turning aside 32 shots in a 6-4 loss at the New York Rangers on Tuesday. "I'm taking the experience in and I'm having fun with all of that. I wish we won (Tuesday) but it's going to be refocus for next game," said the 24-year-old Lagace, who made his second appearance and first NHL start after Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion), Malcolm Subban (lower body) and Oscar Dansk (lower body) were placed on injured reserve.
Boston: The Bruins are 1-0-3 over their last four games. Goalie Tuukka Rask has lost five straight, after falling in a shootout on Monday after his team rallied from three goals down to force overtime. The loss came two nights after Rask and the Bruins were stunned by a last-second overtime defeat that saw the Los Angeles Kings score off a faceoff in the Boston zone with nine-tenths of a second remaining. The Bruins have also been dealing with all kinds of injury and illness. It was announced on Wednesday that veteran David Backes is having surgery to remove part of his colon after his bout with diverticulitis. With David Krejci (back) still not on the ice for practice Wednesday, Jordan Szwarz was recalled from Providence of the American Hockey League. Zane McIntyre was recalled on an emergency basis because backup goalie Anton Khudobin is battling a lower-body injury.
The pick: Boston may actually have more issues than the Vegas and Rask, after winning his first start of the season, has gone 0-3-2 since. He has a 2.93 goals-against average and .898 save percentage. I'll take the 1 1/2 goals and make Vegas an 8* play.
|10-07-17||Oilers v. Canucks +1.5||Top||2-3||Win||100||16 h 55 m||Show|
The set-up: Connor McDavid was made the league's highest-paid player in the off-season (signed eight-year, $100 million contract) and wasted no time looking to prove he's worth every penny. He had seven shots on goal in the Oilers' season-opener Wednesday vs. Calgary, scoring all of the team's goals in a 3-0 win. Goalie Cam Talbot 'pitched' a 26-save shutout. The Oilers play their first road game of the season tonight in Vancouver, as the Canucks play their season-opener. Vancouver was 30-43-9 (7th in the Pacific Division), finishing with the second-fewest goals in the league. The Canucks produced just 11 goals in a season-ending eight-game losing streak.
Edmonton: The Oilers are a 'sexy' pick to win the West Conference this coming season and we saw nothing Wednesday to dull those expectations. Cam Talbot tied for the league lead with 42 wins last season and looked sharp in his 19th career shutout. "I would start the season with a win any day of the week -- the shutout is just an added bonus," Talbot said. "To play the way we did tonight defensively and to start out with a shutout is pretty special." Edmonton is predominantly a young team but the Oilers are setting their sights on a Stanley Cup after rebuilding largely through four first-overall draft picks that resulted from six mediocre seasons.
Vancouver: The Canucks opened last season with four straight victories (all at home) but it was all downhill from there. They followed that hot start by losing their next nine, en route to a last-place finish in the Pacific Division. Henrik and Daniel Sedin have enjoyed long and illustrious careers with Vancouver but the fact that the 37-year-old twins comprise the team's top line speaks volumes of the challenges awaiting the Canucks and new coach Travis Green. Bo Horvat was the only player to score 20 goals and joined Daniel Sedin as the only ones to eclipse 50 points. The Canucks will be looking for Markus Granlund and Sven Baertschi to continue their rise after notching career highs of 19 and 18 goals, respectively. Veterans Thomas Vanek and Sam Gagner were brought in to bolster the attack while the hope is that Loui Eriksson can rebound after dipping from 30 goals in 2015-16 to 11 last season. There is talent on the blue line, headed by Alexander Edler and youngsters Ben Hutton and Troy Stecher, but neither Jakob Markstrom nor Anders Nilsson has been proven to be a full-time starter in net.
The pick: OK, Edmonton is the far superior team but let's not forget, Vancouver opened last season with four straight wins. Deja vu here in October 2017? Take the 1 1/2 goals and make the Canucks a 6* play.
|10-05-17||Avalanche +1.5 v. Rangers||Top||4-2||Win||100||12 h 37 m||Show|
The set-up: The New York Rangers are coming off a third straight 100-point season but hope to do better than only reaching the second round of the playoffs, where they were upset by the Ottawa Senators in six games last spring. As for the Colorado Avalanche, they were so bad last season (22-56-4) that it's almost impossible for this season to be worse. The Avalanche managed just 48 points last season, the lowest total since the expansion Atlanta Thrashers totaled 39 points in the 1999-2000 season. The Avalanche finished last in the league in goals per game (2.01), goals allowed (3.37), power-play efficiency (12.6) and second to last on the penalty kill (77.3). The two teams will open their respective seasons against each other at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night in New York City.
Colorado: Clearly, there is nowhere for Colorado to go but up. Potential trade pieces Matt Duchene and captain Gabriel Landeskog remained with the club during last year's dismal campaign but let's see how they fare, this time around at the trade deadline. Mikko Rantanen's 20 goals led the way for Colorado, which needs more on the offensive front from former top overall picks Nathan MacKinnon (team-best 37 assists, 53 points) and Nail Yakupov (three goals) as well as second-overall selection Landeskog (18 goals). Colorado's former Vezina Trophy finalist Semyon Varlamov, who is returning from a hip surgery, will be put to the test in short order behind a leaky defense that yielded a league-worst 276 goals.
NY Rangers: New York (48-28-6, 4th in Metropolitan Division) boasts substantial depth as opposed to individual stars on offense, with Chris Kreider (club-high 28 goals), Mats Zuccarello (team-leading 44 assists, 59 points), Kevin Hayes (49 points) and Mika Zibanejad (37 points). The 33-year-old Rick Nash (23 goals) enters the final season of a four-year deal that pays the him $7.8 million. The biggest off-season changes for New York occurred with one trade designed to create cap space, dealing top center Derek Stepan and backup goaltender Antti Raanta to the Arizona Coyotes. The Rangers filled the hole left by Stepan from within the organization but had to sign former Winnipeg Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec to back up Lundqvist.The Rangers also signed smooth-skating free agent Kevin Shattenkirk to a four-year, $26.6 million contract to calm the waters following the off-season departure of respected defenseman Dan Girardi. Shattenkirk will make his official debut on Broadway, tonight. Speaking of Lundqvist, he endured his worst season last year since entering the NHL in 2005-06, so the Rangers are hoping Shattenkirk's presence helps fortify the defense and takes pressure off the veteran goaltender.
The pick: While it's easy to say "it can't get worse than last year for the Avalanche," we don't know that. However, I believe it will be better and as for the Rangers, a 100-point season may be beyond the team' reach in the top-heavy Metropolitan Division.. I'll take the 1 1/2 goals and make Colorado an 8* play.
|05-15-17||Senators +1.5 v. Penguins||Top||0-1||Win||100||33 h 18 m||Show|
The set-up: Were the defending Stanley Cup champs a little flat in Game 1 against Ottawa, after taking out the Presidents' Trophy-winning Caps in seven games? Flat or not, Pittsburgh fell to Ottawa in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals by the score of 2-1 in OT. Bobby Ryan set up Jean-Gabriel Pageau for the series-opening goal and then Pageau returned the favor on the Ryans overtime game-winner at 4:59 of OT. Ottawa is now 5-2 on the road this postseason. While Pittsburgh saw Evgeni Malkin register his league-leading 19th playoff point with his third-period goal, head coach Mike Sullivan insisted his team needs to generate more shots after mustering only 17 at even strength in the series opener.
Ottawa: Ryan had been taken to task for a career-worst regular-season point total of 25 (13 goals, 12 assists) but has erupted for 11 points (five goals, six assists) in the playoffs, with nine of them (four goals, five assists and three game-winning tallies) coming in seven road games. Pageau scored only 12 goals while playing in all 82 regular-season games but has a team-leading eight postseason goals, with seven coming in the last six contests! Craig Anderson stopped 27 of 28 shots in Saturday's Game 1 and is now 9-4 witha 2.37 GAA and .917 SP this postseason.
Pittsburgh: Captain Sidney Crosby ia as about as even keel as they come and commented bout the Game 1 loss saying, "There were some good looks there. They're not going to give you anything but we worked hard to get our chances and we've got to bury them whean we get them." The Penguins won 17-of-23 faceoffs in the third period of the series opener but was only able to tie the score. More troubling is the fact that Pittsburgh came up empty on five chances on the power play, extending its rut to 0-for-10 in the last three contests. Crosby only had two shots in 23:32 of ice time.
The pick: Yes, Pittsburgh is 5-0 in Game 2 of a series dating back to last season's playoff run but as I noted in taking the Senators in Game 1, this team just keeps playing one-goal games. Ottawa's 2-1 OT win in Game 1 makes it 10 one-goal games in the Senators' 13 playoff games, so far. Ottawa has six wins in the extra session, pushing the club one shy of matching the 2002 Carolina Hurricanes and 2003 Anaheim Ducks and four behind the 1993 Montreal Canadiens for most during a playoff season.Take the 1 1/2 goals and make the Senators a 10* play.
|05-13-17||Senators +1.5 v. Penguins||Top||2-1||Win||100||11 h 43 m||Show|
The set-up: Two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson guided the Senators to six-game series victories over Boston and the New York Rangers despite playing with two hairline fractures in his left heel. He raised his team-high point total to 13 (two goals, 11 assists) by recording game-winning goals in the series opener and clincher against New York. The Senators are making their first trip to the conference finals since 2007 and just their third trip in franchise history. Awaiting them for Game 1 of this series in Pittsburgh are the Penguins. Pittsburgh is the defending champs and the Penguins are looking to become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98 to repeat as champions. Pittsburgh needed just five games to dispatch Columbus in the first round but after taking a 3-1 lead over Washington, the Penguins were extended to a seventh game before taking out the Presidents' Trophy-winning Caps (again!) with a 2-0 Game 7 victory. Evgeni Malkin (NHL-leading 18 points in the playoffs) and rookie Jake Guentzel (league-best nine goals), have led the way.
Ottawa: Head coach Guy Boucher has 'played the underdog card' in each of his team's first two series and while that assessment could have been debated against the Bruins and Rangers, Boucher's Senators are clearly the underdog in this series. Karlsson is the team leader in points, as well as being the 'heart' of this team, but note that Jean-Gabriel Pageau recorded six of his team-leading seven goals versus the Rangers on the heels of being limited to only 12 goals on the season and one in the first-round series against the Bruins. Craig Anderson has been publicly shredded for his questionable puck-handling decisions in these playoffs but he owns a respectable 2.49 GAA and .914 save percentage.
Pittsburgh: The Penguins were out-played and out-shot by the Caps for most of the series but in the end, came out as the winner. A big reason was the play of Marc-Andre Fleury, who saved his best for Game 7 at Washington, recording a 29-save shutout. He's hasn't put up Rinne-like numbers this postseason but he's got a 2.55 goals-against average and .927 save percentage (.927). Head coach Mike Sullivan has stated that Fleury "deserves the opportunity to play" even though regular-season starter Matt Murray has returned to health. "If we traded (Fleury), we wouldn't be in this room right now," Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford said of the veteran, who was the subject of trade rumors throughout the season. "You'd be in another city. If not for our goalie, we wouldn't have won that series (against Washington)."
The pick: The Penguins have won three of four postseason meetings with the Senators but note that this season, Ottawa captured two of the three meetings against Pittsburgh, with Karlsson erupting for seven points (one goal, six assists) in those three games. Yes, Pittsburgh has enjoyed comfortable wins by two or more goals on five occasions this postseason but Ottawa has seen nine of its 12 playoff games decided by just one goal, including the first eight the Senators played. Take the 1 1/2 goals and make the Senators an 8* play.
|04-22-17||Blues +1.5 v. Wild||Top||4-3||Win||100||8 h 28 m||Show|
The set-up: The Minnesota Wild avoided a sweep of their Western Conference first-round series against the Blues by winning 2-0 in Game 4. The teams are back in Minnesota for Game 5 on Saturday afternoon. The Wild had only managed three goals in losing the first three games of the series but their two goals on Wednesday were good enough, as Devan Dubnyk turned aside all 28 shots he faced.
St Louis: The Blues appeared to take their foot off the gas in Game 4 and the Wild limited their quality chances. Some good news may be on the way, though. Paul Stastny (foot) skated with the top line at practice on Friday and could be in the lineup for the first time since March 21. St. Louis also needs leading scorer Vladimir Tarasenko to get things going. He leads the team with 16 shots in the series but has yet to score, managing only two assists in four games. Minnesota: “We just said coming into the game, we need to win one game and this is the only thing that matters,” Dubnyk told reporters. “This was our Stanley Cup. And it’s gonna be the same thing on Saturday, because if not, it’s over, and we’re not gonna think any further ahead than that.” Charlie Coyle has stepped up with a goal in each of the last two games and Martin Hanzal netted his first of the postseason in the Game 4 victory. Zach Parise leads the team with three points while Jason Zucker, who scored a career-best 22 goals in the regular season, has yet to notch a point despite pacing the Wild with 18 shots.
The pick: After going 27-11-3 on home ice during the regular season, the Wild lost the first two of this series in OT. Can (will?) Minnesota win here at home and send the series back to St. Louis? I Maybe so but St. Louis goalie Jake Allen has stopped 140 of the 145 shots he has faced in the series. Take the 1 1/2 goals and make the Blues an 8* play
|04-21-17||Maple Leafs +1.5 v. Capitals||Top||1-2||Win||100||28 h 39 m||Show|
The set-up: The Caps delivered a four-goal first period in Game 4 and hung on for a 5-4 win to even this first round series at one apiece. It's now the always pivotal Game 5, when a seven-game series is tied at two-all. The Capitals had an NHL-high 118 points in the regular season, while the Maple Leafs' 95 points made them the "last team into the playoff field."
Toronto: Head coach Mike Babcock feels his team should be optimistic heading into Friday's Game 5. "If you'd told our guys at the start of the series it would be 2-2, they'd all do a cartwheel if they knew how. I couldn't do it, I'd hurt my back," Babcock said on Thursday. Toronto was not ready to play at the start of both Games 3 and 4. The Maple leafs were able to overcome Game 3's sluggish start (won 4-3 in OT) but that four-goal first period in Game 4 proved too much of an obstacle to overcome. Youth is being served by the Maple Leafs, as Toronto has five rookie goal-scorers thi series to join the 2007-08 New York Rangers as the only teams over the last 25 years of the playoffs to accomplish that feat.
Washington: The Caps, the President's Trophy winners, have had their hands full with the upstart Leafs, in part because the Capitals feel Toronto has gotten most of the favorable bounces in the series, leaving them feeling helpless at times. "We're becoming really mentally tough in this series," Washington coach Barry Trotz said Thursday. "They've got some strange goals, and that sometimes can play on your mind a little bit." T.J. Oshie has been 'killing' Toronto, highlighted by him recording his third career postseason multi-goal performance on Wednesday. Oshie is riding a six-game playoff point streak (four goals, five assists) dating to last year while fellow forwards Nicklas Backstrom (two goals, three assists) and captain Alex Ovechkin are enjoying three-game point and goal streaks, respectively.
The pick: Here's the rub. Washington is best-known for its past playoff failures and now it's a best-of-three series. It sure doesn't help that Braden Holtby is hardly playing like a reigning Vezina Trophy winner, having allowed 12 goals allowed, a 3.37 goals-against average and an .897 save percentage, in the last three contests. Washington's two wins in the series have each come by just one goal, a 3-2 OT win in Game 1 and Game 4's 5-4 win. Take the 1 1/2 goals with Toronto and make teh Maple Leafs an 8* play.
|03-11-17||Flyers +1.5 v. Bruins||Top||1-2||Win||100||11 h 0 m||Show|
The set-up: The 31-27-8 Philadelphia Flyers have lost nine of 14 (5-7-2) to fall five points behind the New York Islanders for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the 35-26-6 Boston Bruins now occupy third place in the Atlantic Division (76 points) on the heels of a 9-3-0 surge since Bruce Cassidy replaced the fired Claude Julien on Feb. 7 behind the bench. The two long-time rivals meet in an early Saturday afternoon game in Boston.
|01-16-17||Coyotes +1.5 v. Oilers||Top||1-3||Loss||-160||13 h 56 m||Show|
The set-up: The 23-15-7 Edmonton Oilers will host the 13-23-6 Arizona Coyotes, looking to make it three wins in a row on the team's current six-game homestand. Edmonton (53) is one point ahead of San Jose (52) for second place in the Pacific, while the Coyotes sit in last-place (7th) in the division and only Colorado's 27 points are fewer than Arizona's total of 32.
Arizona: The Coyotes are beginning a three-game road trip after being denied a third consecutive victory by visiting Anaheim on Saturday. The Coyotes were shut out for the fourth time this season (3-0) and the second time this month, as they failed to complete a sweep of their three-game homestand. Scoring has been a major issue this season, as Arizona ranks ahead of only Colorado (82) with 86 goals (2.05 per). The team has yet to have a player reach double digits in tallies, with Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal sharing the lead with nine apiece.
Edmonton: The Oilers opened their homestand with a loss to the Sharks but have posted back-to-back victories over New Jersey (in overtime) and Calgary (in a shootout) to improve to 4-1-1 in their last six at home.Patrick Maroon continues to enjoy a career season as he enters Monday's contest with seven goals in his last six games and a team-leading - and personal-best - 18 overall this campaign.
The pick: Edmonton'sir three remaining games on this homestand are all against teams that are below them in the standings. It's vital for the Oilers to take advantage of the favorable January schedule, because things will get awfully tough after this stretch, with the Oilers playing 12 of their next 16 on the road after this homestand. Arizona should play the perfect foil here, coming in 1-12-4 on the road, averaging just 1.95 GPG, while allowing 3.52. Make Edmonton an 8* play.
|12-29-16||Devils +1.5 v. Capitals||Top||2-1||Win||100||11 h 27 m||Show|
The set-up: The 13-15-5 New Jersey Devils limp into Washington just 1-8-1 over the last 10 for the opener of a home-and-home series with 20-9-4 Washington Capitals.
New Jersey: The Devils dropped both ends of a home-and-home versus Pittsburgh, after a 5-2 Tuesday home loss to the Penguins. "I don't know what happened," workhorse goaltender Cory Schneider said following the game. "Again, a late goal in the second, 3-2, you would have thought the game was over. You would have thought it was 5-1 at that point. ... I just don't know. They get the next one and there's the game." The loss dropped the Devils into last place in the Metropolitan Division because the New York Islanders moved ahead of New Jersey by ruining the Capitals post-Christmas debut with a 4-3 win in Brooklyn. New York broke a 2-2 tie with a pair of third-period goals and survived two Washington power plays in the final minutes. Washington: That marked the first time in over a month that the Capitals surrendered four goals. "When you come back after a break, you just need everybody playing well," Capitals head coach Barry Trotz told NHL.com. "You need to go in with a four-line mentality, and I didn't think we had all four lines going as much as I hoped." The top-heavy Metropolitan Division makes the going tough for the Caps, who have struggled against division rivals.
The pick: Washington isn't quite sure why it has had trouble with its Metro foes but the results speak for themselves. The Caps have suffered eight losses in 12 contests versus thir division rivals. I'm taking the 1 1/2 goals and making New Jersey an 8* play.
|12-12-16||Coyotes +1.5 v. Penguins||Top||0-7||Loss||-110||11 h 5 m||Show|
The set-up: The 9-13-5 Arizona Coyotes and the 18-7-3 Pittsburgh Penguins meet tonight in Pittsburgh. Both are off Saturday night wins but while Saturday’s 4-3 win in Tampa marked Pittsburgh’s fifth straight win, Arizona's 4-1 win over Nashville broke a season-long six-game losing streak (0-4-2) for the Coyotes. Arizona: The Coyotes’ 23 points leaves them last in the Pacific Division and tied with Colorado for the fewest points of any team in the NHL. Injuries contuinue to pile up and the team's second-leading scorer Max Domi (16 points) was placed on injured reserve with an upper-body ailment that resulted from a fight during the loss to Calgary on Thursday. “He’s an impact player, so when you lose a guy like that, it’s opportunity for other guys,” Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett told reporters. “But when you lose top players like that, you gotta overcome it.” Nicely put but Arizona has not overcome much, up to this point. Pittsburgh: The Penguins are feeling pretty good about themselves, shaking off a 5-5-1 stretch to win five in a row. Pittsburgh has a fully healthy roster these days and is getting great production from its stars. Sidney Crosby leads the league with 20 goals (in 22 games) and with 31 points. Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel are on Crosby's heels with 30 points each. The pick: The Penguins are rolling but just maybe Arizona found a little spark in Saturday’s win. Arizona goalie Mike Smith has allowed two or fewer goals in six of his last eight games and is 5-7-0 in 13 career contests versus Pittsburgh, including two shutouts against the Penguins. Taking the 1 1/2 goals makes Arizona an 8* play.
|12-08-16||Canucks +1.5 v. Lightning||Top||5-1||Win||100||10 h 9 m||Show|
The set-up: The Vancouver Canucks opened the season with a four-game homestand and went 4-0-0. However, that seems like light years ago now, as the Cancucks visit Tampa Bay tonight with an 11-13-2 mark, looking to break through against the 14-11-2 Lightning. The Lightning lost four in a row from Nov.2 5 through Dec. 1, the team's longest skid since the end of the 2013 lockout season, but have somewhat stopped the bleeding by picking up three points in back-to-backs against Washington (a 2-1 shootout win) and at Carolina (a 1-0 OT loss). Vancouver: The Canucks are the third-lowest scoring team in the NHL, averaging 2.19 goals per game, have been shutout four times this season and been held to two-or-fewer goals 16 times in 26 games. Admittedly, a 3-8-1 road record does not inspire much confidence. Tampa Bay: Head coach Jon Cooper took over at the end of the 2013 season and since then, the Lightning have been among the stingiest teams in the league, finishing fifth in goals against last season. Tampa’s defensive mentality has returned these last two games, allowing just one goal in each contest. The pick: The Canucks are back to playing hockey these days, as they are 5-2-1 in their previous eight contests. Goalie Ryan Miller is expected back in net tonight and he he is 20-10-0 all-time versus Tampa Bay. Goalie Ben Bishop of Tampa Bay has picked up his play in his last three outings, allowing one goal in each contest to raise his save percentage to .910. Expect a low-scoring game and the 1 1/2 goals figure to be YUGE in this contest. Vancouver is an 8* play.
|11-27-16||Coyotes +1.5 v. Oilers||Top||2-1||Win||100||6 h 22 m||Show|
The set-up: The 7-10-2 Arizona Coyotes are currently 14th and last in the Western Conference, which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise for a franchise that hasn’t been to the playoffs in four straight seasons. Frankly, the Coyotes prospects of ending that streak this season don't appear promising, at least so far. Arizona visits Edmonton, which has been a huge surprise in the 206-17 season, to-date. The Oilers won the Stanley Cup back in 2005-06 but haven’t made the postseason since, a run of 10 consecutive playoff-less seasons. Edmonton has averaged just 28 wins per year the last three seasons, averaging just barely over 66 points per season, as well. However, at 12-8-2, the Oilers currently sit atop the Pacific Division. Arizona: Many of Arizona’s early woes can be attributed to the fact that the team's No. 1 goalie, Mike Smith, was sidelined early on with an injury. His back-up, Louis Domingue, has played in 14 games, going 4-8-1 with a 3.21 GAA. Smith is back healthy now and is 3-1-1 with a 2.96 GAA and .911 save percentage. Domingue is now the one hurt with a lower body injury, which has landed him on injured reserve. Justin Peters will serve as the backup. Smith was in goal Friday night when Arizona beat Edmonton at home, 3-2 in a shootout. Edmonton: Oilers captain Connor McDavid recorded his first NHL hat trick earlier this month to start a scoring tear. With a goal against the Coyotes on Friday, McDavid has five goals and four assists in a four-game points streak and leads the league with 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists). Also making noise lately are Leon Draisaitl (three goals, three assists) and Milan Lucic (one goal, five assists) each have six points, while Jordan Eberle (two goals, two assists), Oscar Klefbom (two goals, two assists) and rookie Jesse Puljujarvi (four assists) each have four points. The Oilers tweeted Saturday that Cam Talbot will start in goal. Talbot is 11-7-2 with a 2.47 goals-against average, a .921 save percentage and three shutouts. The pick: Edmonton is easily the better team so far this season but Friday’s win by the Coyotes over the Oilers can’t be considered a fluke. That’s an understatement. Since dropping a 4-3 decision in regulation back on Jan. 25, 2011, the Coyotes are 20-0-4 against the Oilers. Arizona's point streak is the longest by one team against a single opponent since the Oilers' 24-game run against the Vancouver Canucks from 1985-88. Edmonton is 5-4-0 at home but 0-4-0 when scoring fewer than three goals per game and faces Mike Smith, who improved to 14-1-1 lifetime against Edmonton with Friday’s triumph. Meanwhile, Talbot’s given up nine goals while going 0-2-1 over his last three starts versus Arizona. I’ll take Arizona plus the 1 1/2 goals and make it an 8* play.
|11-15-16||Rangers v. Canucks +1.5||Top||7-2||Loss||-170||13 h 16 m||Show|
The set-up: The 6-9-1 Vancouver Canucks overcame deficits of 2-1 after the first period, 3-1 after the second and 4-3 in the third to beat the Stars 5-4 in OT on Sunday. It marked just the team’s second win in its last 12 games. The 12-4-0 NY Rangers visit Vancouver tonight, off a 3-1 victory over the Oilers in Edmonton on Sunday night. NY Rangers: Alain Vigneault was Vancouver's all-time winningest coach (guiding them within one victory of the Stanley Cup in 2010-11) before he was unceremoniously fired after the 2013-14 season and promptly hired by the Rangers. He and his team will be properly motivated, as the Canucks won 5-3 at Madison Square Garden just last Tuesday (Nov. 8). The Rangers enter tonight’s contest leading the NHL by averaging 4.1 goals per game and rank 4th in goals allowed, at 2.2 per. Vancouver: While the Rangers will be playing with revenge, the Canucks have an opportunity to show that their 5-3 victory over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden a week ago was no fluke. Markus Granlund supplied the game-winner in overtime in Sunday's win over Dallas but it was rookie defenseman Troy Stecher who tied the game with 1:40 left in regulation, scoring his first career goal. The pick: Vancouver was 15-21-5 on home ice last season but is 5-3-0 at Rogers arena so far this season. I’m taking the 1 1/2 goals and making the Canucks an 8* play.
|11-08-16||Canucks +1.5 v. Rangers||Top||5-3||Win||100||11 h 42 m||Show|
The set-up: The 4-8-1 Vancouver Canucks travel to Madison Square Garden to take on the 10-3-0 NY Rangers, who are 8-1-0 to open the new season on home ice. New York has scored at least five goals in six of its last seven contests and in each contest of its current five-game winning streak. The Rangers have scored a league-high 55 goals and own an NHL-best plus-26 goal differential. In contrast, Vancouver heads into its fifth contest of its six-game road trip with a winless streak that has reached back nine games (0-8-1) after Monday's 4-2 loss to the New York Islanders. Vancouver: The Canucks entered the third period tied at 2-2 on Monday but allowed two goals in a span of less than two minutes midway through the session and fell to 0-4-0 on their current road trip by the score of 4-2. Vancouver opened the season with four consecutive home games and began 4-0-0 but has now lost nine consecutive games (0-8-1). NY Rangers: New York has won eight of its first nine home contests for the third time in franchise history, also accomplishing the feat in 1972-73 and 1990-91. Henrik Lundqvist is expected to be in net and comes in 7-3-0 on the season, posting a 2.21 GAA and a .914 save percentage. The pick: Vancouver has scored fewer than three goals in 10 of its 13 games this season, while the Rangers have scored a league-high 55 goals and own an NHL-best plus-26 goal differential. Is it as simple as the Rangers can't seem to lose, while the Canucks can't seem to win? It never is. Franchise goals and points leader Daniel Sedin is heating up for the Canucks with goals in two straight contests following a seven-game drought plus goaltender Markstrom owns a better GAA (2.11) than Lundqvist, as well as a better save percentage (.920). Vancouver plus 1 1/2 goals is a 10* play.
|10-24-16||Flyers +1.5 v. Canadiens||Top||1-3||Loss||-210||18 h 24 m||Show|
The set-up: The 2-2-1 Philadelphia Flyers visit Montreal Monday night going up against a team which has opened 4-0-1. The Flyers rallied to win 6-3 Saturday in Carolina while finding their offensive groove, something they'll need against the Canadiens, who lead the NHL by averaging four goals per game. Philadelphia: The Flyers trailed 2-0 early in the second period on Saturday but rallied with four straight goals before skating away with the 6-3 victory. Six players have notched at least five points for the Flyers but while captain Claude Giroux has collected six assists, he has yet to put a puck behind a goaltender. Philadelphia ia averaging 3.8 GPG but are also allowing the same number. Montreal: The Canadiens extended their winning streak to three games with a 4-1 triumph over the Boston Bruins on Saturday night. Montreal’s “big names” are Max Pacioretty, Alex Radulov, Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk but 13 different players who have scored so far this season. Goaltender Carey Price has stopped 46-of-50 shots in a pair of victories since returning from a bout with the flu after enduring an injury-plagued 2015-16 season. The pick: Led by the healthy return of Price, the Canadiens own a league-best 1.60 goals-against average while Philadelphia is allowing 3.8 goals against. Netminders Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth carry well-below average statistics into the week, with Mason's 3.35 GAA and .882 save percentage holding a slight edge over Neuvirth's 4.24 GAA and .854 save percentage. Mason is expected to be in net against Price and while the Canadiens own more than a few edges, I’m gambling a bit here (it worked Sunday when Arizona plus-1 1/2 goals got the cash in a 3-2 loss!) and will again take the 1 1/2 goals, this time with the Flyers. Make them a 5* play.
|10-23-16||Coyotes +1.5 v. Rangers||Top||2-3||Win||100||9 h 41 m||Show|
The set-up: The Coyotes opened the season with a 4-3 OT win at home over the Flyers but they have dropped the first three of what will be a six-game road trip. Defense has been an issue, as the Coyotes have allowed 18 goals, including 15 in their three-game skid. The Rangers come into this game 3-2-0, after winning 4-2 last night in Washington. Arizona: Louis Domingue has been in net for all of Arizona’s losses, replacing injured No. 1 goalie Mike Smith (knee). He’s 0-3-0 with an .836 save percentage, having allowed eight goals on his past 70 shots. Head coach Dave Tippett was non-committal after the loss to the Islanders but Domingue is expected get his fourth straight start on Sunday. Goaltending has been an issue but so has scoring, as talented forwards Max Domi, Anthony Duclair and Martin Hanzal have combined for one goal and two assists. NY Rangers: Head coach Alain Vigneault said his club has played well enough to be undefeated this year. He’s got a point, as the Rangers' two losses have been a one-goal setback in St. Louis in which they outshot the Blues 15-0 in the third period but could not find the tying goal and a one-goal defeat at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings, who were buoyed by a brilliant performance by goaltender Jimmy Howard. Last night, the Rangers rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Capitals 4-2 at Verizon Center. The pick: The problem here for the Rangers is that this contest with the Coyotes will come less than 24 hours after that comeback win against a rested Arizona team. New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist evened his record at 2-2-0 with 26 saves in the victory over Washington but may be rested Sunday in favor of Antti Raanta. I’d love to see the Coyotes avoid Lundqvist but regardless, Arizona is 6* play on the puck line.
|05-13-16||Lightning +1.5 v. Penguins||Top||3-1||Win||100||19 h 38 m||Show|
The Tampa Bay Lightning dropped the opener of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the New York Islanders but swept the Islanders over the next four games. Only the Pittsburgh Penguins are now between them and a back-to-back appearance in the Stanley Cup finals, and I think the Lightning are undervalued in Friday's match-up. Here are my keys to the game: 1. Recent Meetings - The Lightning swept the three-game regular season series with Pittsburgh, including a 4-2 victory at Consol Energy Center on Feb. 20. 2. Special Teams - The Pens power play unit is 11-for-40 in the first two rounds and they scored two goals on the man advantage when they eliminated Washington with a 4-3 OT win on Tuesday. The Lightning’s have however killed off a NHL-best 88.4 percent of their shorthanded situations in the playoffs. 3. X-Factor - Tampa Bay's Tyler Johnson has two goals and four assists in his last four games. He tallied two and set up another three goals in the three regular season meetings with Pittsburgh. Selection: This is a play on the Tampa Bay Lightning +1.5 (5*)
|03-25-16||Canucks +1.5 v. Blues||Top||0-4||Loss||-120||12 h 46 m||Show|
The Vancouver Canucks are traveling to St. Louis hoping to end a six-game slide. The Blues are looking to continue pursuit of the Central Division title, entering Friday two points behind the Stars but with a game in hand. I think the home-team is unreasonable big favorites tonight though and would not be surprised to see the Nucks record an upset.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. Vancouver's Last Game - The Nucks had been shut out in three consecutive games prior to an improved performance in last night's 3-2 shootout loss at Nashville. "It's never good to lose, but you've got to look at the way we played and I thought we played one of our best games of the year," captain Henrik Sedin said. I think it will be a positive for the Canucks to be able to ride that momentum here the next day and the Nucks are 10-4 in their last 14 games following OT on the previous day.
2. Previous Meetings - The Blues defeated the Nucks 3-0 at Vancouver on Saturday, but the Canucks have won six of the last eight in the series and four of the last five meetings at Scottrade Center.
3. X-Factor - Vancouver's Jannik Hansen returned to the lineup last night after sitting out almost a month with a rib injury. Good news for the injury riddled Canucks.
Selection: This is a play on the Vancouver Canucks +1.5 (10*)
|02-26-16||Sabres v. Sharks -1.5||3-1||Loss||-100||30 h 5 m||Show|
*8* PUCK-LINE play on San Jose Sharks.
The Buffalo Sabres will make the second stop of a three-game California road-trip Friday night. They lost 1-0 at Anaheim Wednesday and will play the Kings tomorrow, and this looks like a bad time to face the San Jose Sharks.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. Ryan O'Reilly's Absence - The Sabres' top-scorer will be out of action for three-to-four weeks with a lower-body injury. He's missed the last two games and the Sabres have mustered only two goals in three games since he went missing.
2. Home Cookin' - The Sharks have played nine of their 11 games since the All-Star break on the road. They defeated the Coyotes 4-1 in their last home game and will be motivated to put up another show in front of the home-fans tonight.
3. X-Factor - The Sharks' Joe Thornton has 15 points in his last 10 games.
Selection: This is a play on the San Jose Sharks PL (8*)
|02-26-16||Oilers v. Ducks -1.5||1-2||Loss||-100||30 h 45 m||Show|
*8* PUCK-LINE play on Anaheim Ducks.
The Anaheim Ducks carry a tied season-high six-game winning streak into Friday night's meeting with Pacific Division rival the Edmonton Oilers. Edmonton has lost six straight games, and I think this will be exactly as much of a one sided affair as one would expect by lookin at those recent results.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. Recent Meetings - The Ducks have won 23 of the last 28 meetings overall and six of the last seven at Anaheim. They defeated the Oilers 5-3 at Rexall Place on Feb. 16 in the very last match-up.
2. Home Cookin' - The Ducks have recorded five consecutive wins on home-ice and they've covered the puckline in six of their last nine wins in front of the home-town crowd.
3. X-Factor - The Oilers are struggling offensively and have been held to just one goal in six their last 10 games.
Selection: This is a play on the Anaheim Ducks PL (8*)
|02-26-16||Wild v. Capitals -1.5||2-3||Loss||-100||9 h 42 m||Show|
*8* PUCK-LINE play on Washington Capitals.
The NHL-best Washington Capitals will be aiming to get back to their winning ways when hosting the Minnesota Wild Friday night. They had won 10 of 11 before losing 4-1 against the Habs Wednesday, and I think they'll rebound with a big win.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. The Wild's Schedule - This will be the Wild's fourth game in six days and they're just 1-4 in their last 5 in the fourth game of a 4-in-6 situation. They fell 3-2 at Philly last night so I don't see them matching the Caps tempo.
2. Home Cookin' - The Caps are 17-2-1 in their last 12 home games and they've won four of the last five meetings with the Wild at Verizon Center.
3. X-Factor - The Caps Alexander Ovechkin was held of the scoresheet in Wednesday's loss but he had scored four goals in his last three games prior and recorded a hat-trick the last meeting with the Wild.
Selection: This is a play on the Washington Capitals PL (8*)
|02-23-16||Flames +1.5 v. Kings||1-2||Win||100||12 h 19 m||Show|
*8* PUCK-LINE play on Flames.
The LA Kings are still one of the top teams in the Western Conference, and they'll be a big gigantic favorite at home to Calgary tonight. This could be a tough spot for the Kings, playing a team that doesn't really pose a threat in the playoff race, in their first game back from a grueling seven game road trip. My money is on the visitors on the puckline.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. Previous History - The Kings were 3-3-1 on their recent road trip, and four of their last five games were decided by just one goal. These teams have split the last 10 head to head meetings, and five of those games were decided by a single goal.
2. Johnny Hockey - The Flames leading scorer has a history of lighting up the Kings, with four goals and four assists in six career games against the Kings. He has a goal and five assists over his last five games.
3. X-Factor - The Flames starting netminder has owned the Kings, with a record of 4-1-1 with a 2.02 GAA in his last six versus LA.
Selection: This is a play on the Calgary Flames +1.5 (8*)
|12-13-15||Canucks +1.5 v. Blackhawks||0-4||Loss||-175||28 h 13 m||Show|
*6* Puck-Line ANNIHILATOR on Vancouver Canucks.
|11-19-15||Sabres +1.5 v. Blues||2-3||Win||100||27 h 12 m||Show|
*7* Puck Line MASSACRE on Buffalo Sabres.
|10-22-15||Columbus Blue Jackets +1.5 v. Minnesota Wild||2-3||Win||100||11 h 18 m||Show|
|10-22-15||Arizona Coyotes +1.5 v. NY Rangers||1-4||Loss||-150||10 h 22 m||Show|
The Arizona Coyotes opened the season with three consecutive wins but have picked up just one point over their last three. They've kept each game close though and I like them to cover the puckline when visiting the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden Thursday evening.
|10-14-15||Arizona Coyotes +1.5 v. Anaheim Ducks||4-0||Win||100||15 h 49 m||Show|
The Arizona Coyotes have pulled off two upsets to open their 2015/2016 campaign. They'll visit Pacific Division rivals the Anaheim Ducks Wednesday, and I like the Coyotes to at the very minimum cover the puckline if not snatching the win outright.
|06-15-15||Tampa Bay Lightning +1.5 v. Chicago Blackhawks||0-2||Loss||-210||18 h 39 m||Show|
The Lightning face a must win situation here in Chicago tonight, looking to force a Game 7. They've been in this situation before in these playoffs, and I wouldn't write them off just yet. All five games in this series have been close, and it would be only fitting if this series went to seven games.
2. Tyler Johnson - The Lightning's second line center leads all scorers with 23 points this post-season, and the line of Johnson, Kucherov and Palat has been dominant through the first three rounds.
Selection: This is a play on the Tampa Lightning +1.5 (5*)
|06-10-15||Tampa Bay Lightning +1.5 v. Chicago Blackhawks||1-2||Win||100||32 h 21 m||Show|
The Blackhawks got a little of their own medicine in Game 3, as they appeared to take control of the game with a go-ahead goal midway through the third period. The Lightning equalized just 13 seconds later, and scored a late winner. This was roughly the opposite scenario to what we saw in Game 1, when Chicago stole the game with a pair of late goals.
1. Goaltending - While the status of Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop was in doubt prior to Game 3, he stopped 36-of-38 shots in overall brilliant performance. Corey Crawford on the other hand has not been sharp in the series, and appears to be the Blackhawks weakest link.
|06-08-15||Tampa Bay Lightning +1.5 v. Chicago Blackhawks||3-2||Win||100||17 h 32 m||Show|
The Lightning bounced back with a win in Game 2 on home ice to even this series at 1-1, and now they need to steal a game in Chicago. The Blackhawks are a heavy favorite in Game 3, and given that the Lightning won three straight on the road, I think they look good as a dog in Chicago tonight.
1. Goaltending - While the status of Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop is in some doubt, backup Andrei Vasilevsky has been very solid when called upon. Corey Crawford on the other hand was not sharp in Game 2, and appears to be the Blackhawks weakest link.
|05-29-15||Tampa Bay Lightning +1.5 v. NY Rangers||2-0||Win||100||19 h 39 m||Show|
The New York Rangers managed to force a deciding Game 7 of this Eastern Conference finals series with a 7-3 win at Tampa Bay Tuesday. Picking a winner in this ain't easy, but I'm taking the Lightning as a dog in a game that very well might go past regulation.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. The Lightning's Surging Offense - The Triplets (Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov) have combined for 27 of Tampa Bay's 47 post-season goals, and Tyler Johnson tallied two in Tuesday's defeat catapulting him to the lead for both points (20) and goals (20) in the post-season. The youngsters are wreaking havoc in the Rangers zone with their speed an tenacity whenever taking the ice, and odds are one of them will come up with something spectacular to win tonight's game. If they were to fail Tampa can always rely on its captain and notorious game-winner Steven Stamkos who has four goals and three assists in his last five games.
2. Previous Meetings - Tampa Bay has won five of the last six meetings in New York, including two of three in this series. It is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings overall.
3. X-Factor - The Lightning are 8-0 this post-season when scoring the first goal and we can expect them to be extra careful not to fall behind here at MSG.
Selection: This is a play on the Tampa Bay Lightning (5*)
|05-25-15||Chicago Blackhawks +1.5 v. Anaheim Ducks||4-5||Win||100||20 h 22 m||Show|
The Chicago Blackhawks and the Anaheim Ducks are coming into Game 5 of the series tied at 2-2. Three of the four games have been decided by just one goal, and the Hawks have already prevailed once here at the Duck Pond. I like their chances of recording an upset on the road tonight as well.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. The Blackhawks Routine - The Blackhawks current core players are the same as when they won the Stanley Cup in 2010 and 2013. With this now being effectively a best-of-three series, I like the team that's been there and done that before.
2. Situational - The Hawks have won four of the last five match-ups at Anaheim and six of their last seven playing on one days rest.
3. X-Factor - Four of the Blackhawks 14 games in the post-season have gone past regulation with the Hawks coming out ahead each time.
Selection: This is a play on the Chicago Blackhawks +1.5 (5*)
|05-24-15||Tampa Bay Lightning +1.5 v. NY Rangers||2-0||Win||100||17 h 5 m||Show|
The Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Rangers are comin into Sunday's clash tied at 2-2 in this Eastern Conference finals series. The Rangers equalized the series with a 5-1 win Friday, the first time in this post-season they won a game by more than one goal. I expect another close contest tonight and would not be surprised to see the Lightning prevail at MSG as they did in Game 2 in the series.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. The Lightning's Surging Offense - Tampa Bay has scored 14 goals in this series and Tyler Johnson is on fire with four goals and two assists over the first four games in the series as Tampa Bay's Triplets (Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov) have combined for 25 of Tampa Bay's 48 postseason goals. Henrik Lundqvist in the Rangers net made 38 saves Friday but has a mere .891 SV% in the series.
2. Situational - The Lightning have won six of the last eight meetings and are 6-2 in their last eight games playing on one days rest.
3. X-Factor - The Rangers have been unable to contain the Lightning's high-octane power play unit who is 5-for-16 so far in the series.
Selection: This is a play on the Tampa Bay Lightning +1.5 (5*)
|05-23-15||Anaheim Ducks +1.5 v. Chicago Blackhawks||4-5||Win||100||19 h 43 m||Show|
The Anaheim Ducks have reclaimed home-ice advantage after defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 at United Center Thursday. They're now holding a 2-1 lead in the series and I like the Ducks chances of recording an upset tonight.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. The Ducks Winning Mentality - Anaheim has shown some amazing never-say-die attitude throughout the season and came from behind in each game in the first round when they swept the Jets 4-0. The Ducks players sacrifices themselves for each-other in a fashion unmatched by any other team in the playoffs proved by the fact that they've blocked 84 shots so far in this series which can be compared to the Blackhawks 47.
2. Road Warriors - The Ducks are a mighty 9-1 in their last 10 road-games and have won five of the last six meetings at United Center.
3. X-Factor - Anaheim has lost just two of its 12 games in the post-season, both in overtime.
Selection: This is a play on the Anaheim Ducks +1.5 (8*)
|05-21-15||Anaheim Ducks +1.5 v. Chicago Blackhawks||2-1||Win||100||20 h 38 m||Show|
The Anaheim Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks are tied at 1-1 in this Western Conference finals series as they'll take the ice at United Center tonight. Chicago won a marathon-match in the third overtime period 3-2 Tuesday, and I expect another tight contest here where the visitors may very well record an upset.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. Goaltending - Fredrik Andersen stopped 53 of 56 shots Tuesday and has been rock-solid throughout the playoffs, holding opponents to two goals or less in all but three of his 11 starts. While Corey Crawford outshone him in the most recent match-up with 60 saves, he's not been as reliable in the post-season and conceded nine goals in the first two games at Nashville alone. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf will keep crashing the net, and I have a feeling Crawford might be due for a stinker sooner rather than later.
2. Road Warriors - Chicago is the only team who is undefeated on home-ice in the playoffs after the win at the Duck Pond Tuesday, but how long will that last? Anaheim has won seven of its last eight away from home and four of the last five meetings at United Center.
3. X-Factor - Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf are both among the top six for points in the playoffs and Getzlaf is post-season best with his 12 assists.
Selection: This is a play on the Anaheim Ducks +1.5 (5*)
|05-18-15||Tampa Bay Lightning +1.5 v. NY Rangers||6-2||Win||100||14 h 27 m||Show|
The New York Rangers opened this Eastern Conference finals with a narrow 2-1 win Saturday as Dominic Moore scored the winner with just 2.35 to go of the third period. I expect another tight contest tonight and would not be surprised to see the Lightning record and upset here before the series switch to Tampa Bay for Game 3 and 4.
Here are my keys to the game:
2. Special Teams - Tampa Bay killed off both of its penalties Saturday successfully while converting on one of its four opportunities on the power play and is now 4-for-9 in its last four games.
3. X-Factor - Each of the Rangers 13 games in the playoffs so far have been decided by a single goal.
Selection: This is a play on the Tampa Bay Lightning +1.5 (5*)
|05-17-15||Chicago Blackhawks +1.5 v. Anaheim Ducks||1-4||Loss||-245||11 h 12 m||Show|
The Anaheim Ducks will host the Chicago Blackhawks for the opener of 2015's Western Conference finals. Both teams have impressed so far in the playoffs with the Ducks winning all but one game and the Blackhawks suffering just two defeats. This is a contest to close to call and I like the visitors on the puck-line in a game very likely to go past regulation.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. Chicago's Routine - The Blackhawks are in their fifth conference finals in seven seasons and will be looking for their third Stanley Cup title in six years. The core is still the same as when they won the cup in 2013 and if anyone knows what it takes to navigate through tough playoff games it's this Chicago team.
2. Road Warriors - The Blackhawks defeated the Ducks in both meetings at the Duck Pond during the regular season.
3. X-Factor - Corey Crawford started the playoffs in questionable form to say the least but stepped up big time in the semifinals against the Wild.
Selection: This is a play on the Chicago Blackhawks +1.5 (5*)
|05-16-15||Tampa Bay Lightning +1.5 v. NY Rangers||1-2||Win||100||31 h 20 m||Show|
The New York Rangers are hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning for the opener of the 2015 Eastern Conference finals. The hosts needed seven games to get past Washington in their semifinal and each of their 12 playoff games on the year have been decided by just one goal. The Lightning should at the very least be able to keep this a close game that is very likely to go past regulation.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. Steven Stamkos - The 25 year old started the post-season slow but has been back to his usual self over recent games. He has one point or more in each of his last five games and had two goals and five assists over three regular season meetings with the Rangers.
2. Road Warriors - The Lightning won all three meetings during the regular season and defeated the Rangers 5-1 and 6-3 here at MSG. They've won four of their six road games in the playoffs so far.
3. X-Factor - Ben Bishop has a 1.81 goals-against average in 13 playoff games and has not lost to the Rangers in eight games.
Selection: This is a play on the Tampa Bay Lightning +1.5 (5*)
|05-13-15||Washington Capitals +1.5 v. NY Rangers||1-2||Win||100||36 h 23 m||Show|
The Washington Capitals looked like they had this Eastern Conference series wrapped up but the New York Rangers have won each of the previous two meetings to equalize the series 3-3. We'll have a real nail-biter on our hands at MSG tonight, and I would not be surprised to see the Caps record an upset.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. Alexander Ovechkin - The Russian superstar has been rather quiet of late, but this is the kind of situations he lives for. He had more game-winning goals (11) than any other player during the regular season and he won the league with his 53 goals, 10 more than Steven Stamkos in second.
2. Previous Meetings - Each game in this series have been decided by one goal.
3. X-Factor - Braden Holty has the best save percentage (.944) of goaltenders with more than five games in this year's post-season.
Selection: This is a play on the Washington Capitals +1.5 (5*)
|05-10-15||Calgary Flames +1.5 v. Anaheim Ducks||2-3||Win||100||17 h 33 m||Show|
The Calgary Flames are facing elimination tonight as they'll battle the Anaheim Ducks in Game 5 of this Western Conference semifinals series. I don't expect them to roll over and we're getting a fair price on them on the puckline in a game that is very likely to go past regulation.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. Never Underestimate The Flames - Calgary has been coming from behind all season long punishing teams when they least expect it. I've been impressed with this teams attitude throughout the season and I think this do or die situation will bring out the best of the players.
2. The Flames to Bounce Back - Calgary was held to two goals in Friday's 4-2 defeat but is 4-1 in its last 5 games playing on one days rest and 8-2 in its last 10 after scoring 2 goals or less in their previous game.
3. X-Factor - Corey Perry leads the league in playoff scoring with 14 points but was held off the scoresheet Friday. If the Flames can slow him down once again then they have a real shot at winning this game outright.
Selection: This is a play on the Calgary Flames +1.5 (8*)
|05-08-15||Anaheim Ducks v. Calgary Flames +1.5||4-2||Loss||-240||17 h 39 m||Show|
The Calgary Flames came off back-to-back losses at Anaheim but managed to defend the Saddledome as they made a trademark comeback winning Tuesday's meeting 4-3 in overtime. They're once again coming in as a home-dog here and I think the Ducks might be in for a tougher game than the books seem to expect.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. Shift In Momentum - The Ducks suffered their first loss in the 2015 playoffs Tuesday and one must wonder how they'll react to that. Particularly as they looked destined to go up 3-0 in the series before Johnny Gaudreau scored with just 19.5 seconds left in the third period to tie the game. The following overtime win must be a huge morale-boost for the Flames and we should all have learned by now not to underestimate this feisty Calgary team.
2. Home Cookin' - The Flames have won each of their four games home at the Saddledome in the playoffs and is on a six-game undefeated run home in Calgary with the regular-season included. The Ducks are no strangers to the Flames home-ice advantage as they've left the ice as losers on five of the last seven visits.
3. X-Factor - Calgary converted on one of its six chances on the man advantage Tuesday and if the Ducks are to give them as many opportunities tonight as well they're only likely get more and more efficient.
Selection: This is a play on the Calgary Flames +1.5 (5*)
|05-08-15||Washington Capitals +1.5 v. NY Rangers||1-2||Win||100||14 h 60 m||Show|
The New York Rangers are facing elimination tonight as they host the Washington Capitals for Game 5 of this Eastern Conference semifinals series. This has been an incredible even series and considering the circumstances I would not be surprised to see this one go past regulation which would see Washington cover the puck-line.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. Situational - The Caps have not put themselves in this favorable position only to give it up easy. They know they can't afford to throw the Rangers who finished the regular season with the best road-record in the league a bone here despite playing a hypothetical Game 6 at home and will be looking to close out the series as quickly as possible.
2. Previous Meetings - Each of the previous four games in the series have been decided by a single goal.
3. X-Factor - Alexander Ovechkin has totaled six goals while scoring in five straight visits to MSG.
Selection: This is a play on the Washington Capitals +1.5 (5*)
|04-07-15||Arizona Coyotes v. Calgary Flames -1.5||Top||2-3||Loss||-102||20 h 22 m||Show|
The Calgary Flames are back on home ice after a rather successful road trip which saw them win three of the last four games, and I like their chances of building on that momentum against the Western Conference worst Arizona Coyotes tonight. The Yotes are off a 5-3 victory against the Sharks but they're a lowly 2-8 in their last 10 following a win, and now then they've made themselves worthy of this month's salary I expect them to get back to their losing ways again.
Selection: This is a play on the Calgary Flames -1.5
|04-04-15||Buffalo Sabres v. NY Islanders -1.5||Top||0-3||Win||100||18 h 17 m||Show|
Selection: This is a play on the New York Islanders -1.5
|04-03-15||Arizona Coyotes v. San Jose Sharks -1.5||Top||1-3||Win||105||25 h 16 m||Show|
The San Jose Sharks are sitting 10th in the West, five points back of the Kings for the final wild card in the conference as they're hosting bottom dwelling Arizona Coyotes for the first of two back-to-back meetings tonight. San Jose is not ready to give up on the season just yet and has won three of its last four games while Arizona is off a 4-1 loss to the league-worst Sabres. I think the visitors are in for another big loss here in the Shark Tank.
Selection: This is a play on the San Jose Sharks -1.5
|03-31-15||Tampa Bay Lightning v. Toronto Maple Leafs +1.5||1-3||Win||100||18 h 6 m||Show|
The Tampa Bay Lightning snapped a two game skid as they won 5-3 at Montreal last night. They're coming to Air Canada Centre to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight, a venue where they've already suffered a defeat once this season losing 5-2 back in November. While Tampa Bay undoubtedly is the superior team, I think Toronto will be able to keep this a close game.
Selection: This is a play on the Toronto Maple Leafs +1.5
|03-28-15||Buffalo Sabres v. Colorado Avalanche -1.5||Top||3-5||Win||100||18 h 28 m||Show|
The Colorado Avalanche closed out a five game road trip with a 4-1 win at Vancouver after losing three consecutive prior. Tonight they're back home in the Rocky Mountains, and I think they're looking good to book a second consecutive win hosting the league-worst Buffalo Sabres, a team they blew away in Buffalo earlier in the season.
Selection: This is a play on the Colorado Avalanche -1.5
|03-24-15||Arizona Coyotes v. Detroit Red Wings -1.5||5-4||Loss||-112||18 h 2 m||Show|
The Arizona Coyotes are in shambles, coming into this contest on the back of eight consecutive losses and have failed to cover the puck-line in five of those setbacks. They've averaged only one goal per game over those eight losses, and goals will come at a premium tonight as they'll be up against Jimmy Howard in the Detroit net who is coming off a strong performance holding the St. Louis Blues to one goal in a 2-1 OT win Sunday. Detroit need this win while Arizona has more or less given up on the season, and we're getting a fair price on the hosts on the puck-line here.
Selection: This is a play on the Detroit Red Wings -1.5.
|03-14-15||Toronto Maple Leafs v. Vancouver Canucks -1.5||1-4||Win||136||17 h 55 m||Show|
The Vancouver Canucks coming into tonight's game with double revenge on their minds. First of all they'll be looking to bounce back from a 4-0 setback at home against the Kings Thursday, but also to get back at the Maple Leafs who beat them 5-2 at Toronto earlier in the season. With the visitors coming straight off a 6-3 loss at Calgary last night I expect the hosts to take advantage of a tired team here in Vancouver.
|03-12-15||Edmonton Oilers v. Pittsburgh Penguins -1.5||4-6||Win||100||16 h 55 m||Show|
Selection: This is a play on the Pittsburgh Penguins -1.5
|03-07-15||Philadelphia Flyers v. Boston Bruins||2-3||Win||100||10 h 44 m||Show|
It's a huge game for both teams when the Philadelphia Flyers travel to Boston to take on the Bruins at TD Garden Saturday. The hosts are currently holding down the last wild card spot in the East, while the Flyers are in a pack of three teams trying to hunt them down. A Philly win would take them within two points of the Bruins, but Boston has won the first two meetings of the season and I like it's chances of completing the season sweep tonight.
Selection: This is a play on the Boston Bruins
|03-03-15||Buffalo Sabres v. Tampa Bay Lightning -1.5||Top||0-3||Win||100||18 h 44 m||Show|
The Tampa Bay Lightning are off a disappointing 4-3 loss to their local rival the Panthers. I like their chances of bouncing back with a big win tonight though as they're hosting the worst team in the NHL. The Buffalo Sabres have already given up on the season looking to rebuild for the next. Tampa meanwhile needs to get going in time for the playoffs and should prove to be the better team tonight.
Selection: This is a play on the Tampa Bay Lightning -1.5 (10*)
|02-14-15||Toronto Maple Leafs +1.5 v. Montreal Canadiens||1-2||Win||100||18 h 51 m||Show|
The rivalry between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadians is one of the oldest in sports. These teams will meet again at the Bell Center tonight, and the hosts are heavily favored. While Montreal has proven to be by far the better team in recent seasons, it hasn't prevented these two teams from playing close games in recent meetings.
|01-31-15||Edmonton Oilers +1.5 v. Calgary Flames||Top||2-4||Loss||-155||19 h 16 m||Show|
The Edmonton Oilers have picked up some momentum of late winning three of their last four games. Each game has been decided by one goal and I think they'll keep it close tonight as well as they're staying in Alberta to do battle with the Calgary Flames.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. Situational/Motivational - Sitting bottom of the Western Conference with only 35 points this season is already all but over for the Oilers. They do have two games against their Alberta foe left on the schedule though, and I expect them to give it their all in these rivalry games.
2. Home Woes - The Flames have lost four of their last five at home, with the lone win coming against the lowly Buffalo Sabres. The Oilers have won two straight on the road and must be poised to keep that momentum going.
3. X-Factor - Both teams rank near them bottom of the league for shots per game. This speaks for a close low-scoring contest.
Selection: This is a play on the Edmonton Oilers +1.5. (8*)
|01-31-15||Toronto Maple Leafs +1.5 v. Philadelphia Flyers||Top||0-1||Win||100||16 h 17 m||Show|
The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Philadelphia Flyers are sitting right next to each-other in the standings with both sides a good 9-10 points off a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers are without a doubt the hotter of the the two teams as the Leafs have won only one of their last 12 games, dropping eight consecutive. I think we'll see a close game at Wells Fargo Center though and I like the Leafs on the puckline.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. Idling Maple Leafs Offense - Toronto had some decent offensive success earlier in the season so the quality is undoubtedly there. This could be a good spot to start finding the net again facing Steve Mason who is showing a 3.64 GAA in seven starts against the Leafs lifetime.
2. Special Teams - Philadelphia has won four of its last five, much thanks to a strong power play that has gone 6-for-16. Toronto has a penalty that ranks among the top 10 in the league and has yielded only one goal over its last 17 penalties though. Philly on the other hand has one of the worst penalty kill units in the NHL allowing a goal on close to 75% of its penalties.
3. X-Factor - Phil Kessel is leading Toronto with 45 points and had two assists in the first meeting with the Flyers this season.
Selection: This is a play on the Toronto Maple Leafs +1.5 (6*)
|01-29-15||Arizona Coyotes v. Toronto Maple Leafs -1.5||Top||3-1||Loss||-100||11 h 55 m||Show|
Two slumping teams will face off at Air Canada Centre tonight as the Toronto Maple Leafs are hosting the Arizona Coyotes. Both teams look to avoid an eighth straight loss, but remember that all but one of the Leafs losses during that span have come on the road. I think they'll wipe the floor with the Coyotes tonight back on home ice.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. Home Cookin' - The Leafs have produced only six goals over their seven game slide but I expect an offensive outburst tonight. They're averaging 3.5 goals in their own building compared to 2.2 goals per game on the road and have covered the puckline in 10 of their last 11 home wins.
2. The Coyotes Defense - Arizona's "star" netminder Mike Smith has had a rough season. He's posting a league worst 3.49 GAA, is leading the NHL with his 20 losses for the season and has allowed 12 goals over his last three games. To be fair Smith he's not had much help from his D, facing no less than 123 shots over that three game span.
3. X-Factor - Phil Kessel leads the Leafs with his 44 points for the season but has been quiet of late producing only one point over his last seven games. He had good success earlier this season against Phoenix though, setting up both of Toronto's goals in a 3-2 loss.
Selection: This is a play on the Toronto Maple Leafs -1.5 (8*)
|01-27-15||Buffalo Sabres v. Calgary Flames -1.5||Top||1-4||Win||100||16 h 28 m||Show|
The Buffalo Sabres came into the All Star break ranked dead last in the NHL, and I can't find anything that says we won't find them there come the end of the season as well. They're currently on an extended losing streak, while the Flames will play their first game on home-ice after a very successful five game road swing which saw them go 4-1-0. The Sabres won the first meeting of the season 4-3 in Buffalo despite getting out-shot 45-19. Tonight order will be restored and we can expect a blow-out win for the home-team.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. The Buffalo Sabres Struggles - The Sabres are struggling at both ends of the ice, getting outscored 49-16 over 11 consecutive losses covering the spread only twice. Their struggles are particularly obvious away from home where they're conceding 4.18 goals per game for the season while scoring only 1.68 themselves. They have the worst special team unit in the NHL for both power play and penalty kill, and have given up a goal on 13 of their last 36 penalties.
2. Home Cookin - The Flames are posting a losing home record for the season but have not disappointed when hosting lesser competition going 9-0 in their last nine facing a team with a road winning % of less than .400. The Sabres are 4-17-1 outside of their own building for the season and are a notoriously poor road team having won only nine of their last 55 outside of Buffalo.
3. X-Factor - No defensman in the NHL has contributed with more points than the Flames Mark Giordano and his 40 this season which rewarded him with a spot in the All Star game. He did not disappoint, recording one assist and had one goal and four points over the four games leading up to the exhibition game.
Selection: This is a play on the Calgary Flames -1.5 (8*)
|01-21-15||Calgary Flames +1.5 v. Anaheim Ducks||Top||3-6||Loss||-169||15 h 23 m||Show|
The Anaheim Ducks will enter the All Star break leading the league no matter the outcome in this game. They're off four consecutive wins, but needed a shootout to get the decision against the Kings their last time out. The Calgary Flames are off four straight wins as well, and have split the season series with the Ducks so far with both games decided by one goal. I don't think this contest will be any different.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. The Flames D - Injuries to Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo gave Joni Ortio a chance to prove himself in goal. And he has certainly made the most of it, going a perfect 4-0-0 with a 1.23 GAA over his four starts, and is likely to tend the net tonight again. He's had good support from his skaters as well, and if they can show the same resilience tonight as they have over recent games they'll certainly give the Ducks a run for their money.
2. Road Warriors - The Flames are 14-9-1 on the road for the season, coming off five consecutive wins away from home. It's almost now or never for them to end a 0-14-5 stretch at Honda Center.
3. X-Factor - Sean Monahan is red hot, scoring in three straight contests.
Selection: This is a play on the Calgary Flames +1.5 (8*)
|01-21-15||Columbus Blue Jackets +1.5 v. Winnipeg Jets||Top||0-4||Loss||-210||14 h 24 m||Show|
The Columbus Blue Jackets are coming to Winnipeg tonight on the back of two consecutive 3-1 road wins (at Boston and Minnesota). The home team will be looking to record a fifth consecutive win before entering the All Star break, but needed a shootout to overcome the lowly Arizona Coyotes its last time out. Winnipeg has been better on the road than at home ice this season, and I think they'll be in for a tough, close game home at MTS Centre tonight.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. Columbus Power Play - They have the league's third best power play unit at their disposal, taking advantage on exactly a quarter of their opportunities on the man advantage so far. The power play has been particularly efficient of late, with Columbus notching a goal on the power play in 10 of their last 12 games.
2. Road Warriors - The Blue Jackets have won four straight meetings in Winnipeg and eight of their last 10 on the road overall. They're 11-9-1 away from home for the season, and the Jets have lost 14 of their last 17 at home against a team with a winning road record.
3. X-Factor - Ryan Johansen had a 13 game point streak snapped Monday. He'll be looking to start another one tonight, and I like his chances as he has tallied three goals and two assists over four meetings with the Jets.
Selection: This is a play on the Columbus Blue Jackets +1.5 (5*)
|01-20-15||Minnesota Wild +1.5 v. Detroit Red Wings||Top||4-5||Win||100||18 h 25 m||Show|
The Detroit Red Wings have been hot of late, winning six of their last seven games coming off four victories in a row. Hosting the slumping Minnesota Wild may seem like a mismatch, but I think the Wild will give the Wings a run for their money.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. Return From Injury - Devan Dubnyk has had a positive impact in net since coming over from Coyotes, but the Wild could have their star netminder Darcy Kuemper available for this contest. He was activated from injured reserve yesterday, and as Dubnyk started in Columbus last night we could see Kuemper in goal tonight. Mikael Granlund is another key player that could be available, to the delight of coach Mike Yeo: "(Granlund) is a guy that's a huge part of our lineup and a huge part of our team, and certainly we've missed him".
2. Previous Meetings - The Wild have won three of the last four meetings overall and both of the last two match-ups in Detroit.
3. X-Factor - Minnesota won its last game on the road 7-0, a game where team leading Jason Pominville had three assists.
Selection: This is a play on the Minnesota Wild +1.5. (8*)
|01-19-15||Calgary Flames +1.5 v. Los Angeles Kings||Top||2-1||Win||100||14 h 32 m||Show|
The Calgary Flames are hot, coming off three consecutive wins as they'll enter Staples Center to battle it out with Pacific Division rivals the Los Angeles Kings tonight. I don't think hot and the Kings are words anyone would use in the same sentence at the moment, with the hosts dropping seven of their last nine. An outright win for the Flames is not out of the question, but I prefer a one goal cushion with a play on the puckline.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. Defensive Woes - The Kings have allowed 21 goals over their last six games, going 10-for-17 on the penalty kill. Their top netminder Jonathan Quick is ice-cold, going win-less over five appearances since New Years Day.
2. Home Woes - Los Angeles is 1-2-3 over a seven game home-stand it will conclude tonight. It has dropped five of the last seven meeting in L.A, and another loss could be imminent as the Flames have won four straight away from home.
3. X-Factor - The Kings have lost seven straight shootouts, going 1-for-7 for the season.
Selection: This is a play on the Calgary Flames +1.5 (8*)
|01-19-15||Colorado Avalanche +1.5 v. St Louis Blues||Top||1-3||Loss||-155||11 h 2 m||Show|
The Colorado Avalanche and the St. Louis Blues will close out the season series as they face off for the fifth and final time tonight. St. Louis has taken three of the previous four, but two of games were decided by one goal. I expect another close contest at Scottrade Center here.
Here are my keys to the game:
1. Keeping It Close - The Avs have lost three of their last four, but each loss came by one goal with two of those games going past regulation. They out-shot the Lightning 42-31 at Tampa Bay their last time out, something not many teams can boast about. If they can run with the Lightning, why not the Blues?
2. Semyon Varlamov - The 26 year old Russian is likely to tend the net and has been dominant of late, going 4-1-1 allowing only 11 goals over his last six starts. He's faced the Blues three times this season, going 1-1-1 behind a 1.67 GAA.
3. X-Factor - Alex Tanguay is leading the Avs with 31 points and has one goal and three assists over his last four on the road.
Selection: This is a play on the Colorado Avalanche +1.5 (8*)