There’s been awesome hockey already this week thanks to a huge slate on Tuesday and a decent amount of games on Monday so it’s no surprise that the NHL is a little calmer on their normally quiet Wednesday. Just six teams are in action with three games to bet on but each one offers it’s own challenges and rewards.
The best team in the league is back on the road, a Western powerhouse looks nothing like themselves and the top scorer in the league brings his talents into a city that has been playing some awesome hockey since the All-Star break. As always, we’ll tell you whose chances we like as the games get more and more meaningful down the stretch. Let’s get to it!
Boston Bruins (+1.5)
Anaheim Ducks (-1.5)
Total: 5 (-135o, +105u)
Boston (-110) at Anaheim (-120)
Talk about a turn around. The Bruins fired their coach earlier last week and have now won four straight games and while the Panthers displaced them in the Atlantic Division thanks to their own hot streak they’re still holding on to the final Wild Card spot after they took a one point lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Boston has looked like a different team since Claude Julien left and their four wins in a row are one of the longest active winning streaks in the NHL right now. They just had a huge 2-1 win over a very good Sharks team and now continue their road trip against the Ducks in Anaheim.
The Ducks have been less fortunate than the Bruins as of late and are now just 4-5-1 in their last ten games after a loss to the lowly Coyotes. We knew the Arizona team was improving in the second half of the season but we honestly didn’t think they had improved enough to beat the Ducks. We were wrong as Anaheim watched Arizona charge out to a 3-0 lead and were never able to make up the ground.
Now the Ducks are third in the Pacific Division and while missing the playoffs doesn’t seem like a reality for them yet, they’re definitely losing a good seed with each passing game. Anaheim needs to right the ship at home and try to stop the red-hot Bruins.
Neither team ranks in the top half of offenses this season despite both being in the playoff picture at the moment. The Bruins are trying to change that though and are up to 18th in the league scoring 2.69 goals a game. They still rank second in shots at net at over 34 a night which is a promising sign for a team that has tried to improve its scoring and they’re starting to see results.
In their last ten games the Bruins have scored four goals five times, five goals once, and six goals once. They haven’t been shutout during that span either and while they only scored two goals against the Sharks in their last outing they still escaped with a win.
Brad Marchand has carried this team all season long with 59 points on the year but David Pastrnak has started to come on as well. The 20 year old is up to 48 points in 52 games and has seven points in his last five. He was held off the scoresheet against the Sharks but the Bruins only scored two goals as a team so it’s hardly surprising. Look for him to be buzzing all over the ice against the Ducks as his team continues to fight for a shot at the postseason.
In Anaheim scoring has been a problem all season long. The Ducks rank just 23rd in the NHL in that department and are averaging just 2.56 goals a game. They also shoot the 25th fewest shots on net and have the 15th ranked powerplay. None of those stats point to a team that is serious about winning the Stanley Cup and their offense will have to improve in a hurry if they want to enter the Spring on a high note.
They’ve scored just five goals over their last four games including three straight games of just one goal. They only managed two against the Coyotes and are starting to have real problems finding the back of the net. The veteran trio of Ryan Kelser, Ryan Getzlaf and Cory Perry has been disappointing as of late and they’ll need to lead by example and start putting some pucks in the back of the net.
Luckily for Anaheim they still know how to play a bit of defense. The Ducks have the 6th best unit in the NHL this season and allow just 2.52 goals a game. They also have the 8th best penalty kill and 9th best shots against mark so they know how to defend their goalie.
Despite their recent woes their defense has still looked sharp as of late and has given up just fifteen goals over their last six games including just three over their last two. Jakob Silfverberg may be a winger for the Ducks, and a high scoring one at that with 17 goals on the year but his ability to get back and help on defense has transformed this team. He leads the club in plus/minus rating wit a +12 mark and is the only player in double digits.
Cam Fowler continues to improve on the defensive end as well and has turned into one of Anaheim go-to shut down defenders along the blue line at the age of 25. He also has 31 points this season and is contributing all over the ice. He swallows up defenders at the blue line and smaller players like Marchand may find it difficult to get around him.
In Boston the Bruins have shored up their defense as well and are now ranked 11th in the season, allowing 2.64 goals a game. They allow the second fewest shots on net and have the second best penalty kill and are starting to put everything together under their new coach.
Zdeno Chara continues to be their anchor on the blue line and is turning in another strong season. He leads all defensemen on the team with a +5 rating and has chipped win with 16 points. He hasn’t had a negative rating in the four game win streak for the Bruins and at the age of 39 is still one of the hardest players in the league to score on.
Both defenses are buoyed by some good play in net. Boston is led by Tuukka Rask who is putting together another great season. He stopped 29 of 30 shots against the Sharks and improved his record to 28-13-4 this season with a .914 save percentage and a 2.24 goals against average. He’s quietly turning in one of the best seasons in the NHL and will be tough to beat on Wednesday.
Opposite him in net for the Ducks is John Gibson who has been excellent all the way back to January. He’s actually been the top goalie for the last seven weeks with a goals against average of 1.82 and four shutouts. He is earning every right to be considered one of the best goalies in the game with each passing win.
Brad Marchand against Cam Fowler. Until the Ducks figure out how to score more goals they’re going to keep relying on their defense and that means relying on Fowler to shut down Marchand. He has five points in his last five games and will be trying everything he can to keep his Boston team streaking.
The Ducks may be struggling but they certainly know how to get up for big games. With the way Gibson is playing in net it’s only a matter of time before the forwards help him out. Take Anaheim getting decent odds at home on the spread.
Edmonton Oilers (+1.5)
Florida Panthers (-1.5)
Total: 5.5 (+105o, -135u)
Edmonton (+110) at Florida (-140)
The Oilers are coming into florida having played the night before against Tampa but with the two teams’ arenas so close to one another it will hardly be much travel. Edmonton won three straight prior to their game with the Lightning and continue to look like a dark horse to make a deep playoff run come the spring.
Not including the game against the Lightning, the Oilers are now 6-4-0 in their last ten games and just five points behind the Sharks in the Pacific Division. They passed the Ducks over the weekend and are making the rest of the league take notice thanks to some excellent overall play.
There’s not much left to say about Connor McDavid. The league’s leading point scorer is just 20 years old yet has 67 points in 59 games this season. He had seven points in his last four games prior to meeting with the Lightning and is dominating the NHL unlike almost anyone we’ve seen at this age. He’s also revitalized the career of Patrick Maroon. The 28 year old was suffering in recent years but has 30 points in 59 games including four in his last four. If he can continue to chip in on offense his leadership will be invaluable during tough games like this road contest against the Panthers.
Florida has done exactly what we thought they would now that they’re healthy. They’ve rattled off five straight wins and are now in third place in the Atlantic Division and firmly in a playoff spot. The East is still incredibly crowded and every win matters but the Panthers are making a case for themselves as a team to be feared.
They’re now 8-1-1 in their last ten games and are loving life with their best player Jonathan Huberdeau back in the lineup. He has eight points in just the seven games he’s played all year and continues to look stronger each time he steps onto the ice. He failed to register a point in his last game against the Blues but his team still won and that’s all he cares about as he tries to make the playoffs. At just 23 years old he’s one of the brightest stars in hockey and the Panthers are thrilled to have him back.
Jonathan Huberdeau against Connor McDavid. McDavid is still somehow three years younger than Huberdeau but both players are incredible with or without the puck on their sticks. They’ll be desperately trying to show the other one up and carry their team to a win and we just hope you have your popcorn ready.
The Panthers are absolutely rolling, but with Edmonton getting amazing odds on the road for playing the second night of a back to back we like their chances of ending the Panthers’ win streak. Take the Oilers on the spread and hope McDavid lights it up like usual.
Washington Capitals (-1.5)
Philadelphia Flyers (+1.5)
Total: 5 (-140o, +110u)
Washington (-170) at Philadelphia (+140)
The Capitals finally lost a game! They were beat by the Rangers 2-1 in one of the more thrilling low-scoring hockey games you’ll see in a while but have three days off to think about it before charging into Philadelphia for a date with the Flyers. Washington is still 7-2-1 in their last ten games and first in the NHL with 85 points and a 39-12-7 record.
After a “sluggish” start to the season by their standards the Capitals have turned into the team that everyone wants to be, and beat. Washington still just holds a five point lead over the equally dangerous Penguins however and they know how important the number one seed can be when the playoffs start.
That’s why they’ll bring all the firepower they have into Philly which is bad news for the Flyers. Philadelphia is coming off a win against Vancouver but are still just 4-5-1 in their last ten games and now three points out of a playoff spot thanks to the strong play from the Bruins, Islanders and Panthers. They’re also chasing the Leafs who have struggled recently as well, but either way you cut it the Flyers need to get hot in a hurry.
Philly was once one of the highest scoring teams in the league earlier this season but their offense has dried up completely as of late. Over their last ten games they’ve averaged just 1.6 goals a game which would rank dead last in the NHL. They have looked tired on both ends of the ice and can’t seem to stop the opposition either.
Now they have to go up against the 4th ranked offense and 1st ranked defense in the entire NHL on Wednesday night and we don’t like their chances. Philadelphia was shutout 5-0 in their last meeting and unless they make some drastic changes between now and the time the puck drops a similar result may await them.
Alex Ovechkin against Claude Giroux. The two leads of their clubs have had very different season as of late. While Philly started off hot and Giroux looked like a man possessed the Flyers are now struggling while the Capitals are surging to the top. Ovechkin has four points in his last five games and is up to 27 goals on the season while Giroux has just one points in his last five and only 12 goals on the year. Those roles will need to reverse if Philly wants to win.
Because it’s a road game the Capitals are actually getting decent odds on the spread. Take Washington on three days of rest and hope for a similar result to the last time these two played.
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