Carolina Hurricanes(27-21-9) vs New Jersey Devils(28-20-8)
Both teams are in the final playoff spots among the Eastern Conference, but on team has climbed their way into the playoffs, as the other has slowly but surely drifted off the last week or so. The Devils are that team in the Metro struggling right now, without Corey Schneider the team is definitely missing the star goaltender, as they are 4-6-0 in their last ten, and prior to their shootout win vs Philadelphia they were on a four game losing streak. As the Hurricanes are on a three-game winning streak, one point behind the Devils for the first wildcard spot and 6-3-1 in their last ten. The Hurricanes have shown some impressive goal scoring and stringing together some wins as of late, a team that has bounced in and out of a playoff spot finds themselves with a crucial game at hand on the road. The Devils on home ice are 15-10-3, but more recently they have dropped four of their last six home games. As the Hurricanes are 12-12-4 on the road, playing in their first road game of the month, and first road game in eight games. I think this is going to be a nail bitter, down to the wire, possible overtime, or I could be wrong and Carolina comes out firing, guns a blazing and a solid road win. First road game in a while could be a factor but Devils do not worry me, especially with Kinkaid in net. This will also be the first of four meetings between the two, as they play three times over the next three weeks(also play again in Carolina February 18). Tonight I am running with Carolina, gut decision, see this young team battling all game.
Los Angeles Kings(30-21-5) vs Pittsburgh Penguins(32-22-4)
Pittsburgh second half schedule has definitely favored them in a sense, playing six of their last ten games at home, and since the second half this team has been on fire. They are now three points behind Washington for the division lead and welcome a pissed off Kings team that dropped 7-3 to Carolina Tuesday night. The Penguins offense has been fueled by a list of guys chipping in now but mostly the Hart nominee Phil Kessel, Malkin and Crosby doing their superstar like stuff. The Kings have been a streaky since their hot start and do not worry me one bit heading into Pittsburgh tonight. They are on a two-game losing streak, 6-4-0 in their last ten and battling for a playoff spot. The Kings are three points out of a playoff spot, as Minnesota holds the last spot(68 points) and they play Washington tonight, perhaps the Kings take this game with Minnesota going up against a tough opponent. Kings have to be a little pissed after losing by four goals last game. The Kings 16-12-2 road record will be put to the test against the Penguins 21-7-1 home record. Sticking with the Penguins tonight.
Detroit Red Wings(23-23-9) vs Tampa Bay Lighting(38-16-3)
I don’t know if this is part of the Lightnings plan to slow down and cool off early on before the playoffs start but a loss to Buffalo Tuesday night, raises some eyebrows for sure. The Lightning most certainly have not been as great as they were a month ago. Over the last the Lightning are 6-4-0, on a two-game losing streak, going against a team they have played three times already, all in which they have won. It concerns me because who knows, Detroit has nothing to play for but pride right now, so they come out and mix things up, punch the Lighting in the face early on and catch them on their heels, Buffalo did it literally two nights ago. Hopefully Lighting learn from their mistake to not take any opponent lightly and come out firing here. Detroit is 5-3-2 in their last ten coming off a win vs Anaheim on the road. Tough one, a lot harder of a decision than it should be, going Lightning though. They have to win, no?
Washington Capitals(32-17-7) vs Minnesota Wild(31-19-6)
This is going to be a great game, two teams that are similar in nature, similar in records and both playing very good hockey right now. The Wild are coming off a home win vs the Rangers as the Capitals are coming off a road loss to Winnipeg in overtime. The Capitals have been a very consistent team but some reporters have doubt in them, I read a headline the other day, “Are the Capitals as good as their record shows”, I don’t know but I think this team is balanced and playing with a little less pressure on their shoulders now. They have held the top seed in the Metropolitan division for almost the whole season and are looking to lock up that number seed some more with a win tonight. The capitals are 12-9-5 on the road, and go into the Excel Energy building against an extremely solid home team, as the Wild are 20-4-5 on home ice. We may be overlooking the Wild, but the Capitals for some reason I feel a win. I said this the other night about them and almost steered correct. The Wild barely beat the Rangers at home and the Capitals do not want to drop any more points with Pittsburgh on their tail. Going Washington tonight.
Anaheim Ducks(27-20-11) vs Chicago Blackhawks(24-25-8)
When things well in Chicago they are great but when things go bad, this team has no idea how to react and they are completely lost for answers right now. Waiving Jeff Glass, rumors of Joel Quennville being fired, and the team is now out of a playoff race. The Blackhawks are on a five-game losing streak, and I don’t think it gets any better tonight as the Ducks head to not so madhouse on Madison. The Ducks coming off a tough loss to Detroit need to capitalize against a struggling team to gain some traction in the playoff race, as they are three points behind Minnesota for the last wild card spot. The Ducks are 5-3-2 in their last ten with a 12-11-7 road record, as the Blackhawks are 2-6-2 and 12-12-3 at home. Two teams that are close in the standings but one team has some hope for the playoffs as the other not so much. I like Anaheim tonight to come in and take advantage of fragile, frustrated Chicago team. Going Anaheim.
Other games on tonight…
Rangers vs Islanders: PREVIEW COMING!!
Sabres vs Senators: Uhhh, do I have to pick? Your guess is as good as mine. Both teams are terrible but if I had to put my money on anyone it would be Buffalo.
Flames vs Predators: Predators
Canadiens vs Coyotes: Montreal in a back to back, Coyotes have been playing much better and on a two-game win streak, 5-4-1 in their last ten. Going Arizona.
Oilers vs Golden Knights: Golden Knights.
Canucks vs Sharks: Canucks in a back to back, San Jose rested, going San Jose.