FREE NHL Picks: December 23, 2017

Toronto Maple Leafs(21-14-1) vs New York Rangers(19-12-4)

It seems like the Leafs will not be able to just walk through the Atlantic for a second place finish as Boston is just two points behind them. Tonight, Auston Matthews is again a game-time decision, as he has now missed six straight games with concussion-like symptoms. The Leafs have been struggling in their last ten, but it is a positive sign to see Mitch Marner with 2 goals, 3 assists over the last seven days. But still, William Nylander and Patrick Marleau have not been producing as they should. Over the last ten, the Leafs are 5-5-0 with a 10-9-1 away record. Leafs are also 6-6 vs Metropolitan teams, and the Leafs beat the Rangers in the beginning of the season(8-5) and this will be the second of three meetings between the two. The Rangers are coming off a bad shootout loss, where they looked slow, flat and uninterested, they hope to turn that play around as they return to home ice. The Rangers production has come from all four lines, but their defensive play on some nights is concerning. The Rangers are 6-2-2 in their last ten with a 7-4 record vs Atlantic teams. Tonight I am going Rangers.

Detroit Red Wings(13-14-7) vs Boston Bruins(18-10-5) 

The Bruins are soaring right now, a win tonight and Toronto lose ties them for second in the division. A Bruins team that struggled out the gate, has been clicking on all cylinders, production among all lines and a healthy line up has been the key to this team’s success. Plus Tuukka Rask has been playing much better, it’s crazy how a great goaltender can boost a teams confidence. the Bruins played the Red Wings just 10 days ago and the Bruins won in a comeback fashion in overtime. This will be the second of four meetings between the two. The Bruins are 7-2-1 in their last ten with an 11-5-3 home record. The Red Wings are sub-par at best, on some nights they show up and some nights it is hard to see any offensive production from them. An old blue line, a young offensive core and two mediocre goalies are basically what sums this team up. A lot of hope for the future, but right now the Red Wings are nothing the Bruins cannot handle. This is rivalry dates back to the time hockey started and a great original six matchup, although the two are separated by two standing spots and 8 points this game, will a great one to see. But I am going Bruins.

Winnipeg Jets(20-10-6) vs New York Islanders(18-13-4) 

The Islanders will more than likely need to score four-plus goals again to win, their goaltending has been awful and vs one of the top offenses in the league, the Islanders goaltending probably won’t come to the rescue tonight. The Islanders are an extremely explosive team upfront, lack some defensive depth and have two goalies playing as bad as ever. The Islanders offense is the only reason they are in a playoff spot right now and if they ever slow down, it’s a bad sign for the Islanders. Over the last ten, the Islanders are 3-5-2, with a 3-3 record vs Central division teams. The Jets are still locked in a playoff spot right now but have a hit a bump in the road, not a sign of concern, but something the team has to think about. Their offense is one of the best in the league, and their recent losses have come against some good teams and they have not got blown out of the water ever. The Jets have a balanced offense, solid d-core and right now a hot goaltender. Over the last ten, the Jets are 4-4-2 with a 3-3 record vs Metropolitan division teams. Tonight I am going Jets.

Nashville Predators(21-9-4) vs Dallas Stars(19-14-3)

The Stars have resurged their season thus far, the break up of Benn-Seguin-Radulov has worked out well for them, allowing them some more offensive depth scoring and balancing out three lines. While the Stars have been playing better as of late, much of that comes to their depth scoring and Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin continuing to dominate. The Stars are 4-4-2 in the last ten, with an 11-4-1, This is a big divisional game as the Stars sit in the first wild-card spot and are hanging on for dear life to a playoff spot. The Predators are one of the best teams in the NHL, and we can all assume the Predators will be in the playoffs come April. But their recent success has to be credited to the line of Fiala-Turris-Smith as they have averaged 2.18 points per game. The addition of Turris, in general, has bolstered this offense and has made them the deepest team in the NHL. And the Preds will be getting back Ryan Ellis as soon as January games began apparently. The Predators are 6-3-1 in their last ten with a 10-5-2 away record. The Predators have the Stars number right now as they take the first two meetings from them, once in Nashville, once in Dallas and this marks the third of four meetings between the two. Tonight I am going Dallas though.

Washington Capitals(22-12-2) vs Vegas Golden Knights(22-9-2) 

A feat the Capitals have yet to face all season, playing at T-Moblie arena vs the Golden Knights. Not many teams have success vs Vegas at home, but with the Capitals recent play they may just be the team to knock them off their mojo. It is hard to say that after the Capitals just lost to Arizona Friday night, and now going back to back vs a team that is well rested, the ball is in Vegas’s court right now and it is their game to lose. The Capitals offensive production has come from three lines, their depth scoring has been a key to their success, as well as Braden Holtby of course. Luckily the Caps get a rested Holtby. The Capitals are 8-1-1 in their last ten, with a 6-5 record vs Pacific division teams. Vegas though has been an absolute surprise this season, it is unreal what this team has done so far as they currently sit in a playoff spot and comfortably. It seems as if the Golden Knights are going to be a playoff team, not many thought that would happen. But when players get the confidence they need, players step up and their home crowd is a thing of excellence. Over the last ten, the Golden Knights are 7-2-1 and have a record of 1-3 vs Metropolitan division teams and this will be the first of two meetings between the two. Two teams that have been playing hot, and are atop their division. Vegas at home, Capitals looking to put that lose behind them. Going to be a tough one. Going Capitals tonight.

Other games on Tonight

Canadiens vs Oilers: Oilers

Wild vs Lightning: Lightning

Senators vs Panthers: Beyond thrilled that the Senators have not been playing well and I hope the Panthers beat them. Going Panthers.

Blackhawks vs Devils: Devils

Ducks vs Penguins: Penguins

Sabres vs Hurricanes: Hurricanes

Avalanche vs Coyotes: Avalanche

Blues vs Canucks: Blues

Kings vs Sharks: Kings


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