Free Picks for a Massive 14 Game Lineup on Tuesday 1/31 – Edmonton Over Minnesota

By Cameron Dorrett in NHL on January 31, 2017

Well, that was fun. The NHL put on an absolute clinic over the weekend on how to run all All-Star Celebrations with everything from Snoop Dogg at centre ice to Justin Bieber getting his face smashed into the boards by Chris Pronger.

The young guns dazzled, the veterans dusted off their sticks for a little extra magic and Wayne Gretzky added another achievement to his long list of accomplishments when he won the All-Star game as a coach.

Now the fun is over, at least for the players. We, on the other hand get to immerse ourselves in an absolutely enormous 14 game Tuesday night slate and get ready to officially kick off the second half of the season. While every team has played more than half of their games, the All-Star break gives everyone a chance to regroup, refocus and put one goal in mind: The Playoffs.

With the exception of the Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes, every single team still has a chance to play some hockey in spring. Just three points separate a playoff spot from 13th in the West and out East there’s just a seven point gap between dead last and a ticket to the postseason.

Now is the time we find out who’s contending and who’s pretending and how to make some money off them. Hockey is back! Let’s get to it!

Minnesota Wild at Edmonton Oilers

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Minnesota (n/a) at Edmonton (n/a)

Spread

  • Minnesota (n/a) at Edmonton (n/a)

Total – Over/Under

  • (n/a)

The Wild and Oilers kick off our return to hockey with a date in Edmonton for a showdown of two Western conference powerhouses. Minnesota has been on cruise control since the season started. The Wild are 32-11-5, sit in first place in the West with 69 points and are coming off two straight wins including a 5-1 thrashing of the St. Louis Blues on the road.

They’re 8-2-0 in their last ten games overall and have one of the most well-rounded, balanced and deep team this league has ever seen. Now they need to stay focused against hungry young teams like the Oilers.

Edmonton is just five points behind the Wild and second in the Pacific division with 64 points. They’re 28-15-8 on the season and have won three straight including maybe their most impressive win in their last contest: A 4-1 road victory over the dominant San Jose Sharks.

Led by Connor McDavid, Edmonton finally has someone and something to cheer for. The Oilers are no longer the rebuilding, laughing-stock of the NHL, but a dangerous team capable of beating anyone on any single night. Now they need to open up the second half of the season with a big home win against the best team in their conference. Can they do it?

Offense

You can’t win in the modern NHL on defense alone these days, which is why both these teams pack a punch on the offensive side of the puck. In Edmonton the Oiler average 2.98 goals a game, ranking 8th in the entire NHL. They also own a power play percentage of 20.89, good for 11th.

While neither number is earth shattering, a balanced attack goes a long way in helping win games each and every night. During their three game win streak, the goals have been doing by the bucketful. Edmonton is averaging five goals a game with their 7-3 outburst against Calgary highlighting the streak.

It’s impossible to talk about the Oilers offence without mentioning number 97. Connor McDavid is everything to this team, but most importantly he is their go-to scorer. The 20 year old (yes, TWENTY) is leading the NHL in points with 59 and may already be the best player in the game. He has eight points in his last five games and is coming off a two point performance that included a goal against an excellent Sharks defense.
Simply put, there is no stopping McDavid, you just hope to contain him. The Wild have the players and depth necessary to deal with the Oilers’s super star, and they know how to score a few goals themselves. Minnesota is averaging 3.33 goals a game, significantly higher than Edmonton and good enough for fourth overall in the NHL this season.

Their power play is also slightly better, succeeding at 21.48 percent on the season so far, and if the Oilers were balanced, the Wild are the definition of it. Minnesota doesn’t have a superstar like McDavid up front scoring, but with seven players all having at least 30 points and Mikael Granlund and Eric Staal sitting at 42 and 41 respectively, the Wild are dangerous no matter who has the puck on their stick.

Granlund has been particularly hot lately with six points in his last five games including a goal and an assist in the Wild’s 5-1 road victory over the Blues before the All-Star break. With so many bodies capable of putting the puck in the back of the net, it may be tough for the Oilers to concentrate on stopping just one player.

Defense

As good as the Wild’s offense has been this season, their defense has somehow been better. The Wild allow just 2.27 goals a game which ranks second in the entire NHL this season and is a positive differential of 1.06 a night.

Ryan Suter continues to lead the NHL in plus/minus with a ridiculous +28 and an absolutely shocking seven different Wild players are in the top 12 for plus/minus rankings on the season.

Minnesota’s defensive strength doesn’t come just from their blueline. Their forwards are back checking machines and everyone lends a hand when it comes time to shut the opposition down. Jason Zucker has been incredibly impressive on the wing with a plus minus rating of +27 on the season so far. He’ll be forced to chase McDavid and others around the nice all night, but if anyone’s up to the task it’s Zucker and the rest of his defensive minded teammates.

In Edmonton the Oilers continue to improve their defense and are now ranked an impressive 8th on the season in average goals allowed with 2.59 per contest. They allow under 30 shots a game (something not even the Wild can brag about) and have allowed just four goals in their last three games, including a one goal performance against the Sharks and a shutout over the Ducks.

Andrej Sekera has been excellent for the Oilers this season and has evens tarted chipping in offensively. He scored two goals against the Sharks in their last game to give him seven on the year to go along with 17 assists. Him and the rest of the Edmonton blue line will do their best to shutdown a balanced Wild attack.

Goalies

One of the hardest working players in hockey, Cam Talbot has reinvented himself this season. What looked like the start of a shaky campaign for the goaltender has grown into an excellent season. Talbot is 6-0-1 in his last seven games and is coming off a huge 32 save performance against the Sharks.

He owns a 2.33 goals against average and a very respectable .922 save percentage on the season. His four shutouts rank among the league’s best and he continues to show how capable he is of providing consistent net minding to a team that’s needed it for years.

In Minnesota Devan Dubnyk didn’t look his dominant self at the All-Star game, but that’s hardly a measuring stick for success. Dubynk is flat-out the best goalie in the NHL this season with a ridiculous 1.88 goals against average and a .936 save percentage. He is 18-2 in his last 20 games and is well on his way to capturing a Vezina Trophy.

Key Matchup

Connor McDavid against Ryan Suter. The league’s best scorer against one of the best shutdown defenders in the NHL, what else is left to say?

Advice

Edmonton hasn’t beat Minnesota in five games while playing at home and have to try and break that spell in the first game back from the All-Star break. Still, with the way the Oilers are heating up and the chance of Connor McDavid doing something incredibly every night, we’ll take Edmonton getting excellent odds at home on the spread.

Pick

Edmonton
4
Minnesota
2

Washington Capitals at New York Islanders

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Washington (n/a) at New York (n/a)

Spread

  • Washington (n/a) at New York (n/a)

Total – Over/Under

  • (n/a)

The Capitals come back from the All-Star break after cutting through the rest of the NHL like a hot knife through butter for the first half of the season. Washington leads the NHL with 72 points and a 33-10-6 record. They’re coming off a 5-2 road win over the Devils and are now 8-1-1 in their last ten games.

Their goal differential is a shocking +54 and their scoring recently has been out of this world. With the exception of a 3-0 loss to the Senators on January 24th, the Capitals four or more goals in their last ten games. During that stretch they’ve scored seven goals twice, six goals twice and five goals three separate times.

Now they bring their 14-5-5 road record to Brooklyn to battle the Islanders. New York has looked like a completely different team under new interim head coach Doug Weight and after sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference for almost the entire first half of the season now find themselves just five points out of a playoff spot.

They’re riding a two game win streak including an impressive 3-1 road victory over Montreal and are now 6-2-2 in their last ten games. The two biggest culprits responsible for the Islanders’ new found success outside of Dough Weight are John Tavares and Thomas Greiss. Tavares has jumpstarted the offense with two more assists against Montreal and now has four multi point games in his last five and six in his last eight. He’s up to 19 goals and 40 points in 47 games and looked primed for a good second half.

Greiss has shut the door in net for the Islanders as they desperately needed a goalie to offer them consistency. Stopping the Capitals is going to be a lot harder than almost anyone else, but Greiss looks up to the task. He has a 2.25 goals against average and a very impressive .928 save percentage. The 31-year old looks ready to help the Islanders make a push.

Key Matchup

John Tavares against Nicklas Backstrom. The two top centres will be responsible for jump-starting their team after the All-Star break and whoever can get out of the gate early may carry their team to a win.

Advice

The Islanders are aren’t on par with the Capitals but the fact that they’re getting a goal and half on the spread at home is enticing. Look for New York to keep it close enough for you to win, but ultimately lose by a goal to Washington. Take the Islanders on the spread.

Pick

Washington
4
New York
3

Nashville Predators at Pittsburgh Penguins

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Nashville (n/a) at Pittsburgh (n/a)

Spread

  • Nashville (n/a) at Pittsburgh (n/a)

Total – Over/Under

  • (n/a)

The NHL is wasting no times putting great games in front of us. The Predators are one of the hottest teams in the league. They bumped St. Louis out of third spot in the Central division and now have their eyes firmly on a playoff run. The return of P.K. Subban from injury has helped a ton and Nashville has a 7-2-1 record in their last ten games thanks in large part to their mobile defenseman.

The Predators are also coming off a huge road win over the Blue Jackets and now have another tough test when they take on the Penguins. Pittsburgh is 30-13-5 on the season with 65 points and an incredible 172 goals on the season. The Penguins’ mighty offense ranks first in the NHL with 3.58 goals a game. They take over 34 shots per contest and have the 4th best power play in the league.

Still, Pittsburgh is having some troubles defensively. They’ve lost two straight games and gave up seven goals combined during the span. Now they have to take on a red-hot Predators team that’s no stranger to scoring goals recently.

With Evgeni Malkin questionable to play and Kris Letang still out indefinitely, the Predators have a real chance to grow their winning streak and keep climbing up the standings.

Key Matchup

Sidney Crosby against P.K. Subban. Crosby leads the league in goals and to most, is still the best player on the ice no matter who’s playing that night. With Roman Josi still injured on the Predators it will be up to Subban to stop number 87.

Advice

Nashville has improved away from home recently but are still just 11-12-2 on the road this season. While their play has been impressive recently and the Penguins have lost two straight we like the chances of a well rested Pittsburgh team at home, even if Malkin can’t play. Pittsburgh is also 7-2-1 in their last ten games against Nashville, so go ahead and take the Penguins on the spread.

Pick

Pittsburgh
5
Nashville
2

Columbus Blue Jackets at New York Rangers

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Columbus (n/a) at New York (n/a)

Spread

  • Columbus (n/a) at New York (n/a)

Total – Over/Under

  • (n/a)

The hits just keep on coming for NHL fans when the Blue Jackets visit the Rangers in New York on Tuesday night. After Columbus almost tied the record for longest winning streak ever, many people projected them to start regressing back towards a mediocre team on the fringe of the playoffs. Instead, Columbus continued to win and now have the second most points in the Eastern conference with 68 and a 32-12-4 record.

The signs of regression may slowly be creeping in though. Columbus has lost two in a row after falling to the red-hot Predators 4-3 in Nashville and now have just a 5-5-0 record in their last ten games. They still have the league’s best powerplay, operating at an awesome 24.65 percent. Its a huge reason why they’ve managed to average an awesome 3.33 goals a game. As strong as their offense has been it still doesn’t match up with the Rangers.

New York is averaging 3.41 goals a game this season, a mark good enough for second across the league. That offense was shut completely down by a weak Flyers’ defense, so the Rangers may be finding a bit of fatigue after a rapidly paced first half. Now that they’re rested, expect a much better effort at home against the Blue Jackets.

Henrik Lundqvist has helped turn around the Rangers’ defensive efforts and if he can continue to keep it up during the second half of the season New York could set themselves up for a deep playoff run. The King has a 2.73 goals against average, but has given up two or less goals in four straight games.

Key Matchup

Rick Nash against Cam Atkinson. Two very different players, two similar results. Both Atkinson and Nash are excellent goal scorers who are dangerous every time they step on the ice. Nash has the size to shut down Atkinson, but the speedy Jackets forwards has the moves to get away. Bring on the game of cat and mouse.

Advice

The Rangers are an excellent 8-2-0 against the Jackets in their last ten games and have lost just once in their last five at home to Columbus. Take New York on the spread and the Over, and watch the goals pile up between two well rested teams.

Pick

New York
6
Columbus
3

Philadelphia Flyers at Carolina Hurricanes

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Philadelphia (EVEN) at Carolina (-130)

Spread

  • Philadelphia +1.5 (-270) at Carolina -1.5 (+220)

Total – Over/Under

  • 5.5 (EVEN over, -130 under)

Just when it looked the Flyers’ lousy defense might finally catch up to them they go ahead and shut out the Rangers and hold the Leafs to one goal the very next night. Philadelphia has now won three straight and sits firmly in the second wild card spot with a one point lead over Toronto.

With 32 games left the Flyers can’t just cross their fingers and hope for the best. The defense needs to prove itself over a longer stretch of time that they can consistently slow down teams and let the offense get to work.

They can stat by making quick work of a struggling Carolina team. The Hurricanes have lost five straight games and are coming off a shutout at the hands of the frustrating LA Kings. The good news for Carolina is that they got some rest during the All-Star Weekend and get to return home where they’re 15-6-1 this season.

The teams have split their last ten games against each other with five wins each and no one seems to hold a real edge in statistical categories but the Flyers are downright dangerous when they get going and have the potential to do what more damage than the Hurricanes. With Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds all turning in some of the best seasons of their careers it’s going to be tough for the Hurricanes to break out of their slump on Tuesday night.

Key Matchup

Jeff Skinner against Steve Mason. Skinner has struggled mightily over the past month and especially during the Hurricanes’ losing streak. He was benched for the entire third period a week ago and needs to get going if his team wants to make the postseason. He should have a chance to do that against Mason, but the Flyers’ goalie is coming off a 2-0 shutout over the Flyers.

Advice

Carolina shakes off the slump and takes care of business at home as the Flyers’ defense and Steve Mason fall apart early on in the game. Take Carolina on the spread and the moneyline.

Pick

Carolina
5
Philadelphia
2

New Jersey Devils at Detroit Red Wings

The Lines

Moneyline

  • New Jersey (+105) at Detroit (-135)

Spread

  • New Jersey +1.5 (-280) at Detroit -1.5 (+230)

Total – Over/Under

  • 5 (-120 over, -110 under)

The Devils and Wings clash in the Motor City in battle of Eastern Conference basement dweller,s but that’s actually much better than you would think this year. The Devils are just one game under .500 with a 20-21-9 record on their while the Wings just have one less loss at 20-20-9 themselves.

While both teams are rebuilding and trying to find a new identity for themselves moving forward, they’re also more than capable of making the playoffs this season with a strong second half. A win on Tuesday would go a long way to instilling confidence in teams that desperately need it.

The Devils have lost two straight and now own a brutal -31 goal differential on the season. Their offense has been killing them all season long and it shows no signs of improving. New Jersey is averaging just 2.26 goals a game on 27.08 shots, which ranks 28th and 30th respectively on the season.

To be fair, Detroit isn’t doing any better. Their power play is dead last at 30th on the year and they average just 2.51 goals a game. Both teams have young, skilled players but the lack of consistency is a problem for both teams. With neither team having a true number one goalie to lean on with Jimmy Howard’s injury in Detroit that lack of consistency stretches all the way back to the net.

Key Matchup

Taylor Hall against Dylan Larkin. Assuming Larkin can play (he skated Monday) then the two young speedsters will go head to head on the ice. Hall was excellent in the All-Star game over the weekend, and it will be interesting to see if any of his confidence carries over.

Advice

With both teams struggling it’s tough to decide where to put your money, which is why you have us. The Devils are way healthier than Detroit and are getting amazing odds on the road. Even if they don’t win, you should still take New Jersey on the spread to cover a goal and a half.

Pick

New Jersey
2
Detroit
1

Buffalo Sabres at Montreal Canadiens

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Buffalo (n/a) at Montreal (n/a)

Spread

  • Buffalo (n/a) at Montreal (n/a)

Total – Over/Under

  • (n/a)

The Sabres and Canadiens battle in Montreal with both teams heading in different directions. Since Jack Eichel returned, Buffalo has evolved from a team that rolled over and lost every game to one that competes every single night and gives themselves a chance to win. The Sabres are 6-4-0 in their last ten games and while the playoffs may not be a realistic possibility for such a young, rebuilding team, no one is ruling them out.

Montreal on the other hand is starting to develop some doubt among fans. The Canadiens started off as one of the hottest teams in the NHL and have since looked rather pedestrian. They are just 4-5-1 in their last ten games and coming off a 3-1 loss at the hands of the New York Islanders.

Injuries have plagued this team since day one but as more and more players continue to get healthy the team seems to struggle more. With Alex Galchenyuk and Andrei Markov both experiencing setbacks in their recoveries it was good news to hear that they’re likely to return after the All-Star break.

The offense continues to run through Max Pacioretty and Montreal will need him to continue to step up if they’re going to hold on to their lead in the Atlantic division. Pacioretty has 21 goals and 17 assists in 47 games and could easily hit the 40 goal mark with a strong second half.

Key Matchup

Carey Price against Robin Lehner. Assuming Lehner starts, both these goals know how much a win would mean coming out of the break and will do everything they can to help achieve that. For Price that may mean changing something up. The leagues supposed best goalie is having a rough go at it recently and has just one win in his last five starts while Lehner has grabbed a victory in all four of his last appearances.

Advice

Buffalo has won six of the last ten meetings between these two teams and with the Canadiens still dealing with injuries and a tired Carey Price from the All-Star game the Sabres have every opportunity to grab another W. Take Buffalo on the spread.

Pick

Buffalo
4
Montreal
2

Ottawa Senators at Florida Panthers

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Ottawa (-105) at Florida (-125)

Spread

  • Ottawa +1.5 (-320) at Florida -1.5 (+250)

Total – Over/Under

  • 5 (-135 over, +105 under)

The Senators aren’t messing around. Just when it looked like Ottawa might be more pretender than contender they began to rattle off some impressive wins before the All-Star break including a 3-0 shutout over the virtually unstoppable Washington Capitals. The Sens are now 6-2-2 in their last ten games and while they’re coming off a loss it was in overtime, on the road, and to a very good Columbus Blue Jackets squad.

Now Ottawa gets their number one goalie back as well. Craig Anderson was tending to the health of his wife for the majority of the season but has resumed skating with the team and is expected to start in the next few weeks. As admirable as Mike Condon has done filling in, Anderson is a true number one goalie capable of adding an extra punch to a suddenly very dangerous Senators team.

In Florida the Panthers are starting to get healthy in a hurry and that means trouble for the rest of the league. Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau are both expected to return before March at the latest and as long as the Panthers collect a few points here and there they should be in position to make a late charge for the playoffs.

Florida is 4-4-2 in their last ten games and coming off a much needed win over their Florida rivals the Lightning just before the All-Star Break. Now the Panthers find themselves just four points out of a playoff spot with the capability of beating anyone when a full healthy team steps onto the ice.

Key Matchup

Vincent Trochek against Erik Karlsson. Trochek was the only Panthers all-star and after trying to get by Karlsson on the weekend now has to do it for real. Trochek voiced his frustration with his teams inconsistent play but knows he’ll be needed even more if the Panthers are going to stay afloat.

Advice

With rust being a bit of a factor after the All-Star weekend we love taking the home team but in this case the Senators have proved they’re just too good to be ignored even if they are the visiting team. Take Ottawa on the spread and hope they kick off the second half of their season with a solid effort.

Pick

Ottawa
3
Florida
1

Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Boston (n/a) at Tampa Bay (n/a)

Spread

  • Boston (n/a) at Tampa Bay (n/a)

Total – Over/Under

  • (n/a)

The Bruins return from the All-Star break has one of the most maddeningly inconsistent teams in the NHL. While they show flashes of brilliance like beating the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 on the road, they are also just 4-4-2 in their last ten games and have watched their goal differential slip all the way down to -4.

That’s just not good enough for a playoff team. To make things more dire for the Beantown BadBoys, they have some hot teams on their tail. The Toronto Maple Leafs are just a point back and have played five less games while Philly has the same point total having played two less games. It’s not that the Bruins have catching up to do, but they need to continue to find a way to fend off the teams behind them.

It could start with a win against the struggling Lightning. Tampa Bay is just 3-5-2 in their last ten games and coming off an overtime loss to their rivals the Panthers. The Lightning obviously does strike twice in Tampa with injury after injury piling up, but the curse may finally be lifting. Steve Stamkos has started to ramp up his workouts and Ben Bishop has returned back in net.

If Tampa can continue to lean on Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov to squeeze out a few more wins while the rest of the team gets healthy then the Lightning could feasibly make a run for the postseason.

Key Matchup

Brad Marchand against Victor Hedman. Marchand has been the Bruins’ best player this season, and while his antics continue to overshadow his strong play (as evidenced by his slewfoot on Nicklas Kronwall last week) he’s still vital to his teams’ success. He’ll have to bounce back against one of the best defensemen in the NHL in Victor Hedman and a scoring threat himself.

Advice

The Bruins are frustrating and until they show us a level of consistency that we should expect from a playoff team we’ll continue to get against them. Take the Lightning on the spread at home getting great odds.

Pick

Tampa Bay
5
Boston
4

Winnipeg Jets at St. Louis Blues

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Winnipeg (+115) at St. Louis (-145

Spread

  • Winnipeg +1.5 (-240) at St. Louis -1.5 (+190)

Total – Over/Under

  • 5.5 (-120 over, -110 under)

If the Eastern Conference is tight the West is more crammed than a New York subway during rough hour. With the exception of the Colorado Avalanche and the Arizona Coyotes, six different teams are separated by just three points in the Wild Card playoff race and two of those teams are battling each other on Tuesday night in St. Louis.

The Blues are experiencing a bit of an identity crisis. One of the strongest looking teams earlier in the season St. Louis is now just 4-6-0 in their last ten games and coming off another big 5-1 loss against the Wild before the All-Star break. Their goaltending has been atrocious over the last month but Jake Allen will get an opportunity to fix that on Tuesday.

The Blues’ starting goalie was given time off to try and recuperate after posting some brutal numbers earlier in the month and getting pulled in three straight games. He now has a 2.83 goals against average with a .897 save percentage and needs to find out what’s going on fast if the Blues are going to win this game, let alone make the playoffs.

Winnipeg is coming off a hug 5-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks and just got superstar-in-the-making Patrik Laine back in the lineup. Laine grabbed a goal and an assist in his last game against the Blackhawks and after sitting out a week with a concussion is now back to leading all rookie scoring in points with 40 in just 44 games.

He’ll be licking his chops when he sees the struggling Allen in net on Tuesday and unless the Blues’ goalie can settle down and find a rhythm early it could be a fun night for the Finnish sniper.

Key Matchup

Mark Scheifele against Paul Stastny. Stastny has just 28 points this season but as the top line two way center needs more if he wants the Blues to compete. He’ll have to try and continue his hot streak before the break against Scheifele and the Jets and it won’t be easy. Scheifele has 15 points in his last 13 games and has easily been the Jets’ most consistent player this season.

Advice

We think Allen gets his issues figured out and turns it around after some well deserved rest over the weekend. The Blues are still a force to play against at home and are too talented and deep to let their second half of the season slip away. Take St. Louis on the spread.

Pick

St. Louis
4
Winnipeg
2

Toronto Maple Leafs at Dallas Stars

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Toronto (-110) at Dallas (-120)

Spread

  • Toronto +1.5 (-320) at Dallas -1.5 (+250)

Total – Over/Under

  • 5.5 (-125 over, -105 under)

The Leafs and Stars battle in the lonestar state with both teams firmly in playoff contention but still on the outside looking in. Toronto is just a point back of a playoff spot and has a few games in hand on almost every team in the East. That’s both good and bad news for the Leafs as it means they’re playing 39 games in 68 days to close out the season, but also means they control their own destiny.

Toronto is 6-3-1 in their last ten games and after an exhausting 2-1 loss in Phildelphia got the weekend off to enjoy the All-Star festivities. Now they return with one of the youngest, most exciting teams in hockey led by Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews who are each just one point behind Patrik Laine for the scoring race title.

The Leafs are 7-2-1 in their last ten games against the Stars and now get a Dallas team that has a -22 goal differential on the season. The Stars are coming off a 4-3 win against the Sabres though and despite all their injuries continue to find ways to stay in hockey games.

Dallas is missing six key players from its roster but with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin both healthy they’re capable of beating anyone by racking up the goals early as we saw when they held on to beat the New York Rangers 7-6 last week.

Key Matchup

Auston Matthews against Tyler Seguin. Seguin may feel like a rookie to most fans of the NHL, but he’s suddenly become a veteran with all the youth continuing to enter the league. Matthews represents that youth and will have his hands full against Seguin as the forwards battle at center ice.

Advice

The Leafs are young and well-rested and set to embark on an exhausting schedule. A win would go a huge way to help instill confidence in the young group and coach Mike Babcock will give them every opportunity to get it done. Take Toronto on the spread getting great odds.

Pick

Toronto
5
Dallas
3

LA Kings at Arizona Coyotes

The Lines

Moneyline

  • LA (n/a) at Arizona (n/a)

Spread

  • LA (n/a) at Arizona (n/a)

Total – Over/Under

  • (n/a)

The Kings and Coyotes battle in the desert in one of our later games and LA may be finally ready to take advantage of a weaker team. The Kings have been terrible this season at showing up for games where their opponent is significantly weaker, to the point where weaker opponents started to run out.

Now LA is in danger of missing the postseason as they sit outside of the wild card picture. Yet with two straight wins and a rested bunch the Kings may be ready to start going on their patented second half run.

With goalie Jonathan Quick expected to return in early March the Kings just need to rack up enough wins to make it close. Once they enter the playoffs they become a completely different team as we’ve seen over the last decade.

Jeff Carter still needs some more help in the scoring department. The forward is enjoying a bounce back season with 24 goals and 43 points but is getting little help from any of his other forwards. Drew Doughty is second on the team in scoring despite being a defenseman and Anze Kopitar’s 27 points just aren’t going to get it done.

They’ll have ample opportunity to turn that scoring around when they take on the Coyotes. Arizona allows 3.17 goals a game and have a goal differential of -44 but Arizona’s not ready to throw in the towel just yet. The Coyotes have won three straight games including an impressive 3-0 shutout over the Canucks on the road.

Key Matchup

Tobias Reider against Anze Kopitar. Reider has scored in three straight games for the Coyotes while Kopitar has just five goals on the season. The Kings’ captain needs to take advantage of a weak matchup and find the back of the net.

Advice

If you’ve watched hockey the last few years you know what the Kings are capable in the second half and we see no reason why it doesn’t start against Arizona. Take LA on the spread.

Pick

LA
6
Arizona
2

Colorado Avalanche at Anaheim Ducks

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Colorado (+235) at Anaheim (-290)

Spread

  • Colorado +1.5 (-135) at Anaheim -1.5 (+105)

Total – Over/Under

  • 5 (-135 over, +105 under)

If the Coyotes have been bad this season the Avalanche have been downright dismal. There’s no three game winning streak in Colorado to be excited about and now they own a 13-31-2 record after two straight losses. They are just 1-8-1 in their last ten games and have lost seven in a row.

To make matters worse they lost their starting goaltender to injury for the season and are dealing with injuries to three other key players. Now they have to go into Anaheim to take on a Ducks team that has beat them seven of their last ten times and three straight.

The Ducks are 6-3-1 in their last ten games and just one point behind Edmonton and San Jose in a crowded and skilled Pacific division. If there’s anything for Colorado to take advantage of its been the lack of Anaheim’s scoring. The Ducks have failed to score more than three goals since January 12th and are coming off being shutout 4-0 by the Edmonton Oilers.

Key Matchup

Ryan Kesler against Calvin Pickard. Pickard quickly became the number one goalie in Colorado after Semyon Varlarmov went down with a season-ending hip injury. That’s good news for Kesler who leads the Ducks in scoring and needs to find a way to jumpstart the offense again.

Pickard has a 3.01 goals against average to go along with a .906 save percentage, neither of which will be good enough to win many games in the second half of the season, especially against a team as deep and powerful as the Ducks.

Advice

The Ducks are 16-6-3 at home this season and while they’re just 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games, that spread hasn’t come against the lowly Avalanche. Take Anaheim on the spread and watch them start their second half with a big win.

Pick

Anaheim
4
Colorado
1

Chicago Blackhawks at San Jose Sharks

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Chicago (n/a) at San Jose (n/a)

Spread

  • Chicago (n/a) at San Jose (n/a)

Total – Over/Under

  • (n/a)

Can you believe we just made it through 14 games? That’s every single team but two playing tomorrow night when the best sport in the world returns. The NHL may not have figured out how to get their players to the Olympics again, or how to limit concussions, but they sure know how to get everyone watching their product.

After a stellar All-Star weekend we’re back with 28 teams all playing hockey, and we arguably saved the best game for last. The Blackhawks and Sharks face-off in a huge Western Conference showdown and it couldn’t be a better way to wrap up the night.

The Blackhawks have actually lost two straight games but are still 6-4-0 in their last ten and 30-16-5 overall this year. Chicago’s offense continues to be inconsistent and it won’t be easy for them to figure it out against one of the best defenses in the league. If anyone’s going to though its Patrick Kane. Kane grabbed an assists in his last game before the All-Star break and now has 49 points in 51 games this season to sit sixth overall in scoring.

He’ll be looking to find the back of the net for Chciago who could use a win to snap their mini slide but it won’t be easy against Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Brent Burns. Vlasic is one of the best shutdown defenders in the league while Burns is on pace to be the first defenseman to score 35 goals since Paul Coffey way back in the day.

Both teams have split their last ten games with five wins apiece so neither team is exceptional against the other in that sample size. Still, the Sharks are 7-3-0 on their last ten overall and are an excellent 17-7-1 at home this season.

Key Matchup

Jonathan Toews against Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Toews will always be one of the best players in the NHL as long as he’s healthy, but his points have been way down this season. He needs a strong second half to get him and his Blackhawks poised for a Stanley Cup run. Can he start on Tuesday night against Vlasic and the Sharks’ deep defense?

Advice

Chicago is just 12-9-1 on the road this season and with the way the Sharks have been playing at home we like San Jose to come out on top. Take them on the spread.

Pick

San Jose
3
Chicago
2
MONEYLINE
DECIMAL
FRACTIONAL
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