With just a five game slate on Wednesday it may be tough to live up to the drama of last night. The NHL gave us by far and large the most entertaining game of the season, if not exactly the most conventional. The Penguins and Capitals combined for a ridiculous 15 goals with Pittsburgh triumphing 8-7 in overtime to end Washington’s nine-game win streak.
It wasn’t exactly a good sign for either team on the defensive end, but a win’s a win, and at this point in the season they feel like they count just a little bit more. With several upsets dotting the scoreboard as well NHL bettors were left scratching their heads (us included). No worries, we get to bounce back and dive deep into each game with just five on tap for tonight.
The Canadiens could have used some of Pittsburgh’s eight goals on Monday night, actually just two would have done the trick. Montreal was blanked 1-0 by the Detroit Red Wings of all teams, and with a rookie goalie between the pipes for the Motor City.
The Canadiens won’t make a big deal about the loss, especially with Carey Price looking more like himself in net with just one goal allowed. Montreal is still sitting first in the Atlantic Division with a 27-12-6 record and are 6-3-1 in their last ten games.
Pittsburgh was in a one goal game in their last contest, although by very different circumstances. The Penguins edged the Capitals 8-7 in overtime on Monday night to help snap a mini three game slump. They improved their record in their last ten games to 6-4-0 and will try and carry their momentum into Montreal as they continue their road trip.
There’s no team in the NHL that has scored more or more often this season than the Pittsbrugh Penguins. The Pens are averaging 3.56 goals a game and that number was helpfully inflated by their 8-7 victory in their last matchup.
The Pens score six goals in a single period when they stormed back against the Caps in the second frame courtesy of Evgeni Malkin’s hat trick. Gino sniped three goals in a single period and Sidney Crosby added his league leading 27th tally of the year to go along with three assists.
11 different players recorded a point for Pittsburgh with Sidney Crosby and Justin Schultz each collecting four. Evgeni Malkin, Connor Sheary and Trevor Daley added three and the Penguins’ offense looked as potent as ever against what was the best defensive team in the NHL entering the matchup.
No one takes more shots on net than the Penguins who fire 34.67 pucks on whichever unfortunate goalie they’re playing each game, and they have the third ranked powerplay, operating at an excellent 23.33 percent on the season.
The Canadiens don’t score at the same frantic pace as the Penguins, and they’re coming off a game that saw them shutout by the hapless Red Wings, but Montreal is no stranger to putting pucks in the back of the net.
They average 3.07 goals a game and their powerplay operates at 21.74 percent. Both numbers rank in the top ten among NHL teams this season and both numbers should continue to grow.
The Canadiens were quietly dealing with one of the most injury-plagued rosters in all of hockey, but with Alex Galchenyuk and Andrew Shaw back in the lineup, they’re starting to look a bit more like themselves. Galchenyuk was in the top ten in scoring before missing 18 games with a knee injury and his 23 points in 25 games this season were sorely missed.
Andrew Shaw has recovered from his concussion and while he doesn’t score at the same rate as Galchenyuk, his six goals and nine assists in 29 games this season will be welcomed back with open arms.
There’s no team in hockey that has been as successful as the Penguins while allowing as many goals as they do. Pittsburgh is letting in 3.05 goals a game after they narrowly escaped a seven goal onslaught courtesy of the Washington Capitals.
Only six teams have let in more goals a game this season than Pittsburgh, and all six are barely thinking about the playoffs, let alone in contention for them. This recipe of letting in a lot and scoring more failed miserably for a team like Philadelphia earlier in the season, but Pittsbrugh seems to own an extra gear they can switch into when they know they need to stop the puck.
We didn’t see them switch into that gear against the Capitals, but we think they may have more to do with their goaltending, which we’ll get to in a minute. Justin Schultz still sits in a tie for fourth in the NHL in plus/minus rating and the return of Kris Letang from injury isn’t far off.
The Penguins shouldn’t be proud of their defensive efforts, and stopping the puck won’t be easy against the revamped Canadiens, but we still they they’re going to improve (slowly) in their own end.
Montreal meanwhile has had no problems stopping the puck this season, allowing more than half a goal less than Pittsburgh at just 2.51 a game. While Carey Price deserves a lot of that credit, and we’ll get to him in a minute, the defense in front of him as been doing a bang-up job this season.
Shea Weber leads the team in plus/minus rating while also chipping in 28 points. His giant slapshot has been huge on Montreal’s potent powerplay and his ability to shutdown the opposition’s best player every night is a luxury they just didn’t have with P.K. Subban.
Alexei Emelin has taken his cue from Weber and the two have turned into one of the most physically dominant defensive pairs in hockey. Emelin is fourth in the NHL in total hits and leads the Canadiens by a wide margin.
With Andrei Markov and Greg Pateryn still sitting out with injuries, Montreal’s defense is only going to improve as the team gets healthier later into the season.
Carey Price is still widely considered the best goalie in the NHL, but he may be watching his crown slip away. While he was strong in his last start, turning away 19 of 20 shots he still lost the game and has now dropped three of his last four.
The good news is it snapped a string of four games where he allowed at least three goals per contest and a total of 18 over that stretch. We fully expect Price to recover and bounce back to his Vezina form, which is something we can’t say with confidence about Pittsburgh’s situation.
Matt Murray was hung out to dry for all seven goals against Washington and while many weren’t directly his fault, letting in seven is always way too many regardless of how they happen.
The problem for Pittsburgh is Marc-Andre Fleury has been terrible lately, and Murray gives them the best chance to win. Murray is recovering from an injury and the Penguins hope he’s just shaking off the rest before recapturing his form last season. Cross your fingers Montreal fans.
Evgeni Malkin against Shea Weber. Crosby steals the spotlight based on his torrid goal pace this year and the name on the back of his jersey, but Malkin has been equally as good this season and is coming off a hat trick…in one period. Weber will be tasked with stopping the bruising forward each time he steps on to the ice and we can’t wait to watch the fireworks.
It’s rare to get good odds when you pick the Penguins but that’s the case on Wednesday night when they travel into Montreal. Pittsburgh’s offense is too good to ignore, and Price just hasn’t looked himself the last two weeks. Take Pittsburgh on the spread.
The news is out on the Arizona Coyotes: They’re just not very good. We hate to write off teams at the halfway mark of the season but the Desert Dogs have given us no other option. They’re just 13-24-6 on the year, own a goal differential of -46 and have a record of 2-7-1 in their last ten games entering Wednesday night’s date with the Jets.
The Coyotes are outclassed by the Jets in every conceivable statistical category, and yet they have something Winnipeg doesn’t: A win in their last matchup less than a week ago. Yes, the Coyotes beat the Jets 4-3 for one of their 13 wins this season and while we don’t expect that to happen again, it’s important to remember for betting circumstances.
It’s bad enough in Arizona that long-serving captain Shane Doan has finally said he’s open to a trade. That’s not to suggest the 40-year old who has played his whole career with Arizona wants to leave, but that he could, given the right circumstances.
Those circumstances may another loss, and the Winnipeg Jets are happy to deliver it. Winnipeg is just 3-6-1 in their last ten games and yet still only four points out of a playoff spot. Their offense has seriously been missing superstar rookie Patrik Laine. He hasn’t even started skating since going down with a concussion on January 7th, and it’s anyone’s guess when or if he’ll return this season.
Dustin Byfuglien against Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Both defensemen are suffering on their struggling teams, but are still two of the most underrated players in all of hockey. It’s skill versus strength and we have a feeling strength might win out in this one.
The Coyotes are coming off a win against Winnipeg, but that was at home. Now they have to travel on the road where they’re a dismal 5-13-4 this season. Take the Jets at home on the spread and the moneyline in a game they need to win.
The Red Wings just won’t quit will they? We’ve been on the verge of writing them off a few times this year and each time it feels like they respond with a couple clutch wins to let everyone know the engine hasn’t stopped running in Detroit just yet.
They’ve won two in a row after a gusty 1-0 performance against the Montreal Canadiens and now get to host the Bruins at home. They’re just six points out of a playoff spot, and the team they’re trying to catch (The Flyers) have looked very catchable.
It will be interesting to see if Detroit continues to roll with goalie Jared Coreau after he turned away all 18 shots he faced against the Canadiens for his second straight win and second career shutout in eight games. With Jimmy Howard nearing a return the Wings might roll the dice with Coreau and hope his inspired play gives the team a spark.
It won’t be easy against the Bruins who are 5-4-1 in their last ten games, but just when we thought they might go on a little run themselves they lose 4-0 to the Islanders. Boston is actually better on the road than they are at home this season, and that doesn’t bode well for Detroit.
Tuukka Rask continues to give inconsistent performances in net for the Bruins and Boston has to wonder what’s going on. Rask stopped just 12 of 15 shots against the Islanders before being pulled and he’ll be itching to bounce back against a stagnant Detroit offense.
Brad Marchand against Mike Green. With Niklas Kronwall injured, more of the defensive responsibility falls on Green who will be tasked with stopping the red-hot Marchand. Boston’s mercurial forward has seven goals in his last five games and is on his way to beating his 61 points last season.
Boston’s a strong road team coming off a bad performance. They’re too well-coached and deep to let one los spiral them out of control. Expect them to come firing out of the gate in Detroit and leave with a big win. Take the Bruins on the spread.
The Panthers continue to do us proud after we tied our horse to their playoff hopes. Florida has been dealing with a lengthy list of injuries but continues to find ways to win, including a recent victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. While it’s true they got the Blue Jackets on a night one of their four recently called up goalies was in net, everyone is dealing with injuries at this point in the season, and excuses are futile.
On Wednesday night they comeplete the back to back set of what used to be an easy trip through Alberta, but times have changed. After playing the Flames in Calgary the Panthers try and sneak a win by a very good Oilers team in Edmonton.
Connor McDavid and his fellow Oilers have won three straight games and while two of those wins came against the Coyotes and Devils, the Oilers are still capable of handling their business against weaker teams.
Edmonton has three goals in all of it’s last five games except for one and Connor McDavid still leads the NHL in points even after Crosby and Malkin combined for seven on Monday night.
With the exception of powerplay opportunities, Edmonton leads Florida in every statistical metric we use, and we fully expect them to take advantage of that mistmatch at home.
Cam Talbot against Roberto Luongo. Both goalies are quietly having a solid campaign after recent strong play. Talbot has won five of his last six games and recorded a .912 save percentage with a goals against average of 2.02 during that time while Luongo has a .922 save percentage and 2.40 goals against average this season. With both team’s offenses being unpredictable, one of these goalies could steal a win.
With how talented and rested the Oilers will be against a tired Panthers team, we like Edmonton to win this game. The injuries the Panthers are dealing with are just too much right now to beat a good Western Conference team.
The Sharks and Kings battle in LA during the late game on Wednesday night and if you’re an East Coast cat and stay up late at night make sure you tune into what should be one of the best games of the night.
We don’t understand the Kings, and at this point, we don’t think anyone does. LA operates in that area of showing up for the big games, and falling flat on their faces for the small ones. With the exception of Jeff Carter and hi 23 goals, the team has put in inconsistent effort after inconsistent effort all season long.
They just lost 2-1 to the injury riddled Lightning and now have to welcome the Sharks to town who are six points ahead of them in the standings and coming off a 5-2 road win over the Winnipeg Jets.
There’s good news for the Kings though. They’ve won two straight against the Sharks and while San Jose has been impressive all season, their 11-10-1 record on the road doesn’t exactly instill fear in their opponents’ hearts.
Jeff Carter against Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Carter continues to defy logic by lighting up the entire NHL with 23 goals on the season now, but they wont be as easy to come by against Vlasic. Fully recovered from his face injury, one of the best shutdown defenders in the league will be eager for the Carter challenge.
Picking the Kings on any night feels like a roll of the dice, and tonight is no different. LA has yet to show us any signs of consistency, and yet they beat the best teams night in an night out. We expect them to bounce back from a poor performance against the Lightning and take care of the Sharks at home.
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