I know folks, I’m sorry I took a little hiatus from writing these picks but we are back and better than ever. As NHL teams continue to stay on their bye, most nights have only displayed 4-5 games, and tonight we have four games. We have a 1 PM (EST), 3 PM, and 4PM games today. Odd, but let’s dive into it.
Dallas Stars(24-17-3) vs Boston Bruins(24-10-7)
The Bruins I am still pretty high strung about, 8-0-2 in their last ten and they have officially taken over that two spot from the Leafs and it seems as if they will not be leaving anytime soon. The Bruins real strength comes from a healthy lineup plus some rookies performing at the right times. Tuukka Rask has been much better and when Rask is on the Bruins are almost a given to win. The Stars though have consistently stayed in that wild card spot, 6-3-1 in their last ten. As the Stars and Sharks play tonight, these two points are crucial for the Stars. They are also only 4 points out of the three spot in the Central. As the season continues and the Sharks, Stars, Blackhawks and Wild battle for that wild card spot, all games are playoff games right now. The Bruins are 14-5-3 on home ice while the Stars are 8-11-2 on the road. I really cannot see the Stars taking two from the Bruins on home ice this afternoon. If we see Rask in net, which we should, I think we have to be leaning towards the Bruins tonight.
Anaheim Ducks(20-15-9) vs Colorado Avalanche(23-16-3)
I’ve definitely been secretly rooting for the Avalanche all season, after they got rid of Matt Duchene and that dead weight was off the team, they have not looked back. Nathan McKinnon is making a run for the Hart trophy, Mikko Rantanen is establishing himself as a top three forward and the team is just playing a little bit looser and having fun. The Av’s are currently on a six-game winning streak and are 8-1-1 in their last ten, with a 15-7-1 record on home ice. The Ducks since getting back a relatively healthy line up have not been all that successful, although they are 6-3-1 in their last ten, they have dropped down to 5th in the division and are two points out of a wild-card spot. The Ducks have a very versatile center group and are deep on the back end, but this game will not come easily to them as the Avalanche are right on their tails also two points out of a wild-card spot. This game is a playoff type game that will have major implications on the standings. Tonight I like the Av’s though. Pepsi Center will be rocking!
San Jose Sharks(22-13-6) vs Los Angeles Kings(24-14-5)
The Kings three-game losing streak and a 4-4-2 record in their last ten have dropped them to 3rd in the division by one point. As the Sharks are battling for a playoff spot, a win vs cross-state rivals makes this game all that more interesting. The Sharks have been a consistent borderline playoff team all year, they have their moments and times they look good, but nothing to make them a special team this season. The Sharks are 5-3-2 in their last ten while posting a 9-7-4 away record. The help of Martin Jones in net tonight will be crucial, the Kings will need to see more depth scoring come in and Jonathan Quick to continue his remarkable play. The Kings are 11-7-3 at home this season and I think a win tonight is something they probably need to help get things going in the right direction. Tonight I am going, Kings.
New York Islanders(22-18-4) vs Montreal Canadiens(18-20-5)
The Islanders were on a bit of a skid a few games ago, but with a big win over the Rangers two days ago, definitely, helps this team gain some confidence. The Islanders are currently one point away from a playoff spot, so a win tonight is a must for this team. The Islanders are 4-5-1 in their last ten and currently have a 9-13-1 away record. Goaltending has been a major issue for the Islanders this season and ramping up their defensive depth is something on the radar of this team. The Canadiens now though are an extremely inconsistent team that has no real identity. They are 4-5-1 in their last ten, have a -22 goal differential and have not been able to get any depth scoring or scoring, in general, this season. The slow play off Max Pacioretty and Jonathan Drouin, plus Shea Weber being out has not helped this team at all. I cannot see the Canadiens taking a game from the Islanders at this moment, with how crucial this game is. Despite the Canadiens being home, I am going Islanders tonight.