Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Around the NHL: Predictions for March 20th

There are five NHL games on the schedule tonight. Let’s take a look at the top picks, plays and predictions.

March 20, 2017 – NHL Schedule
Bruins vs Maple Leafs
ML -120 / +110
O/U 6
Sabres vs Red Wings
ML +125 / -145
O/U 5
Coyotes vs Predators
ML +215 / -255
O/U 5.5
Sharks vs Stars
ML -145 / +125
O/U 5.5
Kings vs Oilers
ML +120 / -130
O/U 5

Here are tonight’s starting goaltenders, courtesy of LeftWingLock.

The Game to Watch: Bruins vs Maple Leafs.
With the New York Islanders still nipping at their heels, this is a must-win game for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs will be pulling even in games played tonight while holding a one-point lead in the race for the second Wild Card. They have won four of their last five against the Boston Bruins, and will need that trend to continue tonight.

Boston finally came back down to earth on Thursday night, as they allowed seven goals against the Edmonton Oilers. Tuukka Rask had an off-night in net, allowing five goals on 17 shots in just 22 minutes of ice time. Anton Khudobin, who had started the night before in Calgary, was forced to come in and relieve Rask. It was the sixth time that Rask had been pulled this season. The last time Rask was sent to the bench early was on February 4th against (who else) the Toronto Maple Leafs. The loss dragged Rask’s save percentage down to .912 this season.

The Bruins will need Rask to be on his game this week. They have built a three-point cushion on the Maple Leafs that could evaporate with a slew of losses against Atlantic Division rivals in the coming few days. Rask is expected to start both tonight and tomorrow against the Ottawa Senators. Later in the week, the Bruins face the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Islanders.

Fortunately for the Bruins, home-ice advantage has not meant much in this particular rivalry. The road team has won four of the last five meetings between these two teams. Unfortunately for the Bruins, they have yet to win a game against Toronto this season, as the Leafs are 3-0. This will be the first time that the Maple Leafs are seeing the black-and-gold without Claude Julien behind the bench, however.

Patrice Bergeron missed practice but is expected to play tonight. Bergeron is currently on a four-game point streak, with five assists along the way.

A positive to derive from Boston’s defeat in Edmonton is the continued stellar play of Brad Marchand. The winger collected three more points to bring his season total up to 79. He now only trails Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid by only one point, and is tied with Patrick Kane for third. Marchand is second in the league in goals with 37, trailing Crosby by three.

The Bruins have not lost consecutive games under their new head coach. They have had three days to recover from their last loss. Expect them to be rejuvenated tonight.

Toronto is just 3-1-3 in their last seven home games.

Prediction: Take the Bruins to win tonight. Play the over.

Other Game Notes Around the NHL

Kings vs Oilers: Jonathan Quick had a short leash last night against the Calgary Flames. After allowing two goals on seven shots in just 11:36 of ice time, Quick was yanked in favor of Ben Bishop. The short amount of ice time means he will not be as tired for tonight’s game, but it still is a major detractor of confidence heading into a dire situation.

Quick’s first goal allowed was hardly unstoppable, but it was understandable. Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan had a give-and-go set as they entered the zone, and Monahan’s wrister was not 100% visible because of the partial screen set by defenseman Jake Muzzin. It still was not a tremendous goal to allow, but there was reasoning to it. The second goal allowed was far more egregious. Defenseman Alec Martinez did not go down to block a slapshot from nearly the exact same angle as the first goal, meaning Quick had much more in sight. Mark Stone still blasted his shot through Quick’s five-hole. Calgary’s possession was a result of sloppy defensive zone play by the Kings and their tally was relatively soft by Quick standards. A message had to be sent.

The Flames rolled on to an easy 5-2 victory.

To their credit, the Kings have won six of their last seven after a loss of three or more goals the previous game. On the other hand, they have lost their last four on no rest and four of their last five road games. Los Angeles is ice-cold, and what’s worse, the home team has won the last four encounters between these two teams.

Not only that, but the Kings have looked deflated. It’s easy to dismiss a team that is not scoring as looking “flat.” The same thing happens in baseball where if a team is not getting on base or hitting the ball hard, it’s because the team is “flat” or is lacking energy. Often times, this is a cliche. But the buzzword fits. The Kings look toothless. They now trail by six points in the standings with a tricky schedule ahead.

The Kings have a road back-to-back against Calgary and Edmonton next week, too. They also play the New York Rangers, Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, and yes, two more games against the Flames and Oilers at home in their remaining schedule. Making up ground on the Nashville Predators rests primarily on their ability to beat their Pacific Division rivals.

For tonight, a cold Kings team is playing on a back-to-back on the road against the league’s leading scorer and a hot goaltender in Cam Talbot. Things are not looking up.

Prediction: Take the Oilers to win. Play the under.

Sharks vs Stars: Dallas has become a thoroughly unentertaining team to watch. I mean that in the sense that they have been fairly moribund all season long, not that this is a recent development. The Stars have been unable to string together wins this season, and after dealing away some pieces at the deadline, they are even more lifeless than usual.

Last week, the Stars lost three of four road games. In their losses, they were outscored 15-3. Yikes.

One of those losses was against the San Jose Sharks, their opponent tonight. The Sharks potted five goals en route to an easy 5-1 victory. Joe Pavelski had a pair of goals.

The key play here in this matchup is the over. The over has hit in the last seven meetings, including the last four in Dallas. With the Sharks’ offense rolling and the Stars’ defense faltering, expect a lot of goals to be scored tonight.

Prediction: Take the Sharks to win. Play the over.

To make a play on these predictions, or any other NHL bets, visit our sportsbook at hockey.

About Casey Bryant

Casey is GetMoreSports' resident hockey fanatic and host of "Jersey Corner" on the GMS YouTube channel. He is the play-by-play voice of Marist College Hockey and the New York AppleCore. He currently works as a traffic coordinator for MSG Networks. Steve Valiquette once held a bathroom door for him.

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