Pittsburgh Penguins(36-24-4) vs Boston Bruins(38-15-8)
What a tilt we have here tonight and finally the NHL get’s it right!! NBCSN matchup between two of the top teams in the NHL and a possible Eastern Conference Final match up? The Penguins have been ROLLING lately, right after the All-Star break this team plus Malkin, Kessel and Crosby have been machines. The Penguins are 7-2-1 in their last ten, although they did drop their last two games, one of them to Buffalo and the other to New Jersey. The Penguins still are one of the best in the league, they are three points out of the divisional lead but either way, we will see them in a playoff spot. The concern here tonight though is with Matt Murray out, Tristian Jarry or Casey DeSmith handle the workload, we saw DeSmith allow three goals in the loss to New Jersey. A major test for the Penguins forward and defensive groups. The Bruins also though are without captain Patrice Bergeron for two weeks, the Bruins though with the addition of Rick Nash it helps for situations with this. The Bruins are 6-4-0 in their last ten coming off a major overtime win off the stick of rookie and 20-year-old Charlie McAvoy, being the youngest d-man to score an OT goal in Bruins history. The Bruins home gives one some incentive here as they are 20-7-4 at home and the Penguins are 13-16-3 on the road this season. Tough one, Penguins drop tonight Devils tie them for the three spot, and third loss in a row. I don’t know I’m torn right now. Russian roulette pick, going Penguins.
Carolina Hurricanes(27-25-11) vs Philadelphia Flyers(34-19-10)
I don’t really want to go in depth with this pick because the Flyers are going to win, but the Canes are still a competitive team. They will keep this game close but push comes to shove I’m going Flyers. For a few reasons, one, 12 straight games with a point, 6 in a row, haven’t lost in their last ten in regulation, one point out of the divisional lead. The Hurricanes were once a playoff team and fell off very quickly, they are 3-4-3 in their last ten but still only four points out of a wild-card spot. Don’t see Carolina winning in Philadelphia with a record of 12-14-5 on the road with the Flyers hot streak and 16-9-6 record at home. The Canes have a solid mix of forwards and defenseman the future is bright but when a team like the Flyers are rolling and they are home to the Philly crowd behind them it is tough to beat. The Flyers seem to be clicking on all cylinders, pucks bouncing their way and some players stepping up in major ways. Travis Konecny looks like a Mexican jumping bean out there, Patrick Nolan is finally coming full stride and Claude Giroux is making a case for the MVP. Going Flyers tonight.
Tampa Bay Lighting(43-17-4) vs Dallas Stars(36-23-4)
The Lighting going back to back and dropping a game to Buffalo at home is bad, really bad because of one they only scored two goals, two they gave up the lead and three they lost on home ice to one of the worst teams. Newly acquired JT Miller took a bad tripping penalty late in the third last night which gave Buffalo the chance to score and tie it, bad start for the former Ranger. The Lighting still atop the Atlantic but only by 5 points, and they are 6-3-1 in their last ten with a 22-11-2 record on the road. The Stars now, have to start making a push they have fallen out of the top three in the Central and barely have a playoff spot right now, with no deadline moves this team will see the same three guys score nightly. The Stars are only two points in a wild-card spot and a point or two is a must tonight. They are 6-4-0 in their last ten with a 22-10-1 record at home coming off a road win over Calgary. Going to need to see Ben Bishop play some of his best hockey in this final 20 games. I see Dallas taking this one, catching Tampa on their heels and coming out a little hungry. The Stars last got shacked vs Tampa last time, this was in November though. Going Dallas tonight.
Chicago Blackhawks(27-28-8) vs San Jose Sharks(34-21-9)
The Sharks are in a secure playoff spot I would say, and the newly acquired forward Evander Kane gives them that extra goal scoring touch they need. The Sharks have been pretty consistent all season and posting an 18-9-1 record at home with a 6-3-1 record in their last ten. A mix of top six forwards all chipping and no one doing the heavy lifting which is why this team has been successful. Brent Bruns continues to lead this team and even with Jumbo Joe out the Sharks have been fine. They welcome a struggling Chicago team to the Shark Tank for the first time this season, these two have met twice and the first one came out with a Chicago win in Chicago. Flip the switch and now San Jose is home. The Blackhawks are struggling to say the least with a 3-7-0 record in their last ten and a 12-14-5 record on the road, out of a playoff spot and just playing for some pride. A bore of NBCSN matchup probably not many people are excited about. Going San Jose for sure.
Columbus Blue Jackets(32-26-5) vs Los Angeles Kings(35-24-5)
These two are in similar situations just different conferences and time zones. The Blue Jackets sit in the last wild-card spot by four points and the Kings also sit in a playoff spot by two points. The Kings have made some solid deadline moves to improve their roster while the Blue Jackets have done the same. This game is crucial for these two tonight as every game is moving forward. The Kings are 5-5-0 in their last ten on a two-game winning streak as the Blue Jackets are 5-4-1 in their last ten also on a two-game winning streak. The Blue Jackets have a relatively healthy lineup, added some depth on offense with Tomas Vanek and depth on defense with Ian Cole, without Josh Anderson, Vanek will chime in a decent amount. The Kings have welcomed Jeff Carter back a vital part of their success. This is another tough one as the Kings are home with a 15-11-3 record and Columbus road record is sub-par at 13-15-3. Tonight I am going to go with the home team but would not be surprised if Columbus took this.