Vegas Golden Knights(35-13-4) vs Pittsburgh Penguins(29-22-3)
This is going to be game of the night, in my opinion. Last time these two faced off was December 14 and Vegas won 2-1, but that was in December a time that was not so nice to Pittsburgh and they did not have their three stars performing like they are. Fast forward a month and a half and things have changed for the Penguins, Crosby, Malkin, and Kessel have combined for 68 points since January 1st. Malkin has won player of the month/week two times and Crosby, if I am not mistaken point streak just ended at 11 games, Kessel is up for the Hart and the Penguins are climbing the rankings. This is what we thought it was going to be the first time these two met. Vegas has been on a roll since Dec. 14 and not much has changed, they seem to handle business out in either division and over their last ten, they are 6-3-1, while the Penguins are 7-3-0. Fleury returns back to Pittsburgh for an emotional night as he will get to see his old teammates and fans one more time. This matchup comes at a great time for both teams, obviously, Vegas wants to keep winning and the Penguins are on a roll as of late too. Two of the top teams going at it, I just wish the NHL wasn’t blind and put this game on NBCSN. Anyways tonight I am going Pittsburgh, sorry Fleury, you won the first time you guys met.
Washington Capitals(30-17-5) vs Columbus Blue Jackets(27-21-4)
Is there some sort of losing bug going around in the Eastern Conference between the wild card teams, every week we are seeing a new team fall out and new teams in the mix. The Rangers have been terrible, the Islanders have been subpar, the Flyers have been mediocre, the Hurricanes inconsistent and now the Blue Jackets have gone from second in the division to first wild-card spot dropping five of their last ten. On the verge of losing a wild card spot. The Blue Jackets welcome the Capitals to Nationwide Arena for a second of four meetings between the two. The first one was on Capitals home ice, in which the Capitals won, the next three matchups come all in the month of February just weeks apart. Actually, Columbus plays the Capitals again in three days. The Capitals have not lost grasp of first place since they took it over and over their last ten, they are 4-4-2, coming into this game on a two-game losing streak, three points ahead of New Jersey. The Capitals road record definitely concerns some as well as they are 11-9-4. This game is going to be a blow out I think, well scoring frenzy I should say. I think we see a relatively high scoring game and the Blue Jackets come out on top. These two will see each other in three days and I’ll tell you now Capitals take that game.
New Jersey Devils(27-16-8) vs Ottawa Senators(17-25-9)
This has nothing to do with the game but I did contemplate picking up Keith Kinkaid for tonight but I am unsure since he is not the most reliable goaltender. The Senators story has been said this year, they have struggled a ton this year and have not been able to fight themselves out of a paper bag. Goaltending has been a major issue, offense consistency has struggled and their defense has definitely had its struggles, up and down the line up the Senators have seen their fair share of disappointments this season. But some nights they come out to play and actually surprise me. For example, their two wins vs Anaheim and Philadelphia, two good teams and they handled their own. The Devils are fighting for that number one spot and taking a night off is not an option. I believe everyone is healthy for the Devils except their goaltending, but the Devils have been a bit of a surprise this year as we are now in February and they are still in a playoff spot. Over the Devils last ten they are 5-5-0, and currently on a three-game winning streak. As the Senators are 3-7-0, and also post a below .500 home record as the Devils are 12-8-5 on the road. On the road, going Devils.
Minnesota Wild(28-19-5) vs St. Louis Blues(32-19-3)
Really NHL? You choose this game to air on NBCSN tonight. I don’t want to see Carter Hutton, nor do I want to see Zach Praise break his back for the ninth time in three years. Nor do I want to see this game in general. Poor choice. Is their a rivalry between these two, I get the same division, same conference but, a better game could have been chosen. Anyways, these two have faced off two times prior to this meeting in which the series is split at one apiece. Both meetings came a ways ago, and a lot has changed. For example, Carter Hutton has taken over the crease in St. Louis and the Wild are battling for a wild-card spot. The Wild have a ton of defensive depth but I have not heard too much about their young offense this year, Minnesota’s offense has just 150 goals for and +1 goal differential. They have struggled a tad this year but still are in the mix. Over their last ten, they are 6-2-2 coming off a loss to Dallas. The Blues have been a bit odd this year, came out hot, slowed down and are starting to pick things back up. They are only one point in front of Dallas so this is a major game for the Blues. Over the last ten, the Blues are 6-3-1, coming off a win vs Buffalo. Minnesota has struggled on the road this year, losing 15 of their 26 games on the road. Tonight I am going St. Louis.
San Jose Sharks(28-16-8) vs Colorado Avalanche(28-19-4)
These two last met just before the All-Star break and this is when the Av’s were on their 10-game win streak and nothing was stopping them. Well, now they have lost Nathan MacKinnon and are one point out of a wild-card spot. Over the last ten, the Av’s are 6-3-1 coming off a loss to Winnipeg 3-0. The Sharks are enjoying that struggling Pacific division as they are second in the division and have not moved for quite some time. OVer the Sharks last ten, they are 5-3-2 coming into the game on a two-game winning streak. These two teams are very similar in nature, both missing some key guys and both have an offense that has been surged by some young guys and unknown names. Both have a solid defenseman that does the heavy lifting and both have enjoyed some solid goaltending this season. The Sharks ended up losing the last matchup 5-3, and come back to Colorado Pepsi Center for another matchup before the Av’s go to San Jose at the end of the season. This is going to be a tight game and has major implications for the Av’s as the Wild play tonight and with a Wild lose and Av’s win, Av’s find themselves back in a playoff spot. Tonight I am going Avalanche.
Other games on tonight…
Ducks vs Sabres: Ducks
Flyers vs Hurricanes: Flyers
Bruins vs Red Wings: Bruins
Canucks vs Panthers: Panthers
Coyotes vs Jets: Jets
Flames vs Blackhawks: Flames