There are seven NHL games on the docket tonight. Let’s take a look at the top picks, plays and predictions.
|Blue Jackets vs Devils
ML -180 / +145
|Panthers vs Penguins
ML Off / Off
|Wild vs Jets
ML Off / Off
|Avalanche vs Blackhawks
ML Off / Off
|Hurricanes vs Flyers
ML +120 / -140
|Senators vs Canadiens
ML Off / Off
|Kings vs Flames
ML +105 / -125
Here are tonight’s starting goaltenders, courtesy of LeftWingLock.
The Game to Watch: Senators vs Canadiens.
The Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators were locked in a back-and-forth battle last night, with the Canadiens coming out on top in the shootout. The shots were even, the action was helter-skelter and the atmosphere was intense.
I have already laid out the details of how Ottawa managed to squander a crucial home game, but let’s just say that Dion Phaneuf did not have the best game. The Sens’ veteran defenseman was beaten three times for three goals against in the game.
Montreal now holds a two-point lead on the Ottawa Senators, with the Sens holding a game in hand. The Habs would like as much separation as possible exiting this weekend. Ottawa has a very tricky schedule coming up, in which they play Boston twice, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, both New York teams and Montreal once again. The odds of their catching up from a four-point deficit would be very slim.
Which makes tonight a must-win. Must, must, must.
The Senators won the only meeting at the Bell Centre this season back in November by a score of 4-3. In fact, they have won three of the last four games in Montreal.
Montreal has lost four of their last five games on no rest. If Al Montoya winds up the starter tonight, that would be a major benefit for Ottawa. Mike Condon will likely be in net for the Senators, and he has looked sharp his last few starts. The Sens do not have a dominant goalie tandem, but it is enough to get them through tough back-to-backs. Montreal would be relying on a goaltender who has allowed 11 goals in his last three starts and has a 2.71 goals-against average on the season.
If I were a betting man, I would think we see Price in net again tonight for the Canadiens. He has played on consecutive days just once this season. In the second game, he stopped 20 of 21 shots to defeat the Capitals in Washington.
Prediction: Take the Canadiens to win. Play the over.
Other Game Notes Around the NHL
Kings vs Flames: This will be the other game to keep a close eye on tonight. The Los Angeles Kings are still chasing the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators. With the Blues having won last night, the Kings now find themselves six points out of the second Wild Card spot.
Things have gone so wrong for the Kings this season. Losing Jonathan Quick for the season is an easy excuse to fall back on, but the fact of the matter is that their offense shriveled up and died this season. Their bottom six has been disappointing to say the least, and now that he is with slower players, Anze Kopitar has slowed up too.
Kopitar is on the top line with Dustin Brown and Jarome Iginla. Five years ago, this would have been a formidable line. Now, it’s just slow and unproductive. Kopitar excels when he has quicker wings to hang with him. Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli have been playing well with Jeff Carter on the second line, meaning Kopitar does not have much else to work with on the depth chart.
Brown has two goals and two assists in his last 14 games. Iginla has three goals since joining the team, but has been a net negative. The line just does not have enough jump to it, and it certainly does not start in the offensive zone frequently enough, plain and simple.
This is a challenge game for the Kings. They will be on the road, which has been problematic enough for them (14-16-5 on the year), and their opponent is one of the hottest teams in the NHL.
Flames’ goaltender Brian Elliott has won 10 starts in a row. After dealing with the flu last week, he returned to the net and stopped 24 of 25 against the Dallas Stars. He has a 1.70 goals-against average during this hot stretch.
The season series is split between these two teams, but Los Angeles has won five of the last six encounters. This will surely be an intense matchup, but the Kings are simply having too much trouble scoring to be going up against a stingy goaltender like Elliott.
Prediction: Take the Flames to win tonight. Play the under.
Wild vs Jets: Though the Minnesota Wild were flying last night on their home ice, they could not manage any points out of their game against the New York Rangers. They dominated the opening frame and generated odd-man rushes at will, but simply could not bury the game-tying goal with time winding down.
March has been a rough month for the Wild. They are 2-7 overall and 1-5 as the visiting team, which they will be tonight against Winnipeg. The poor play this month has led to the Wild losing their Central Division lead by a wide margin. Chicago now reigns by five points.
These two teams last met on February 28th. The Wild ventured up north to the Jets’ home arena and came away with a 6-5 victory. At one point, Minnesota held a 5-2 lead. The Jets came roaring back to tie it before Jason Zucker put the Wild on top to stay with just over two minutes remaining in regulation.
Winnipeg is a tricky opponent this time of year. They are out of the playoff race, but they are putting up a lot of goals on the board. They play at such a high speed and have such young talent that they are capable of sneaking a win past any given opponent on any given night. In a few years, if not next year, the Jets could find themselves competing for a playoff spot.
Minnesota has won the last four encounters, with the over hitting in four of the last five. The Jets having two days off to the Wild’s none could prove to be the difference, however.
Prediction: Take the Jets to win. Play the over.
Panthers vs Pengiuns: It’s usually an exaggeration whenever a fan says of an opponent’s venue, “God, we never win there.” The most recent example I can think of between teams of the same conference is the New York Rangers in the Bell Centre in Montreal. Fans and the media alike would be quick to point out how the Rangers would usually do very poorly in the Bell Centre.
In this particular matchup, the complaint is pretty valid.
The Panthers never win in Pittsburgh.
Sure, there was that one game in 2014 three seasons ago where the Panthers routed the Pens 5-1. But the Penguins have won 15 of their last 17 home games against the Florida Panthers. Panthers fans have earned the right to say, “God, we never win there.”
What’s worse, the Panthers will be without Aaron Ekblad tonight once again. Ekblad has missed Florida’s last three games with concussion symptoms, and it will still be another week or more before he is ready to return.
Pittsburgh has quite a list of injuries of their own. Carl Hagelin is out for the next four-to-six weeks with a lower-body injury. Ron Hainsey was just announced as “week-to-week.” Evgeni Malkin missed practice yesterday and is not expected to play tonight as he nurses a shoulder injury. Plus there are the names that have missed weeks of time with no timetable for return like Trevor Daley, Kris Letang, Olli Maatta and Bryan Rust.
The Penguins keep winning, but being without Hainsey stretches what was already a depleted blueline even thinner. Plus, it is impossible to understate the absence of Evgeni Malkin.
Florida still has something to play for in theory, as they sit six points out of the NHL playoffs. So you know what? Take a chance on them tonight.
And if things go wrong, just throw up your arms and say, “God, they never win there.”
Prediction: Take the Panthers to win tonight. Play the over.
Avalanche vs Blackhawks: I’m running out of interesting things to say about the Colorado Avalanche. So at this point, I’m just going to come up with a random talking point for their games down the stretch.
Apparently Nathan MacKinnon is going to be in this coming season of “Trailer Park Boys.” I am unfamiliar with the show, nor was I aware that apparently there have been 10 seasons prior to this new 11th one. But it exists, and he is in it, and it will be on Netflix. MacKinnon was in the show’s trailer, but does not have a line. So, there’s that.
Colorado has stolen a win at the United Center this season. The season series is 2-1 Chicago. The Hawks have won five of the last six. There, you have your prediction factoids, happy?
Prediction: Take the Hawks to win. Play the over
To make a play on these predictions, or any other NHL bets, visit our sportsbook at https://www.betdsi.eu/gms-hockey.
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