It’s a very busy night in the NHL tonight. Let’s get to the picks and previews.
Ottawa at Buffalo
- Puck Prediction (264-193) pick: Ottawa
- Gamblers’ (272-185) pick, via Odds Shark: Ottawa
Preview: The Sens might be playing a back-to-back here, but . . . it’s the Sabres. Let’s just move on.
Tampa Bay at Washington
- Puck Prediction (264-193) pick: Washington
- Gamblers’ (272-185) pick: Washington
Preview: The Lightning are the better possession team in this game, and their goaltending is generally better than Washington’s. Still, the Caps’ power play and Braden Holtby are more than capable of stealing a game against a Stamkos-less Bolts squad.
New Jersey at Columbus
- Puck Prediction (264-193) pick: Columbus
- Gamblers’ (272-185) pick: New Jersey
Preview: It’s hard to stress how low-event this game could be. The Devils are the stronger possession team, but both of these squads struggle terribly to put shots on goal.
Los Angeles at Montreal
- Puck Prediction (264-193) pick: Montreal
- Gamblers’ (272-185) pick: Montreal
Preview: Definitely the matchup of the night. The Habs are white-hot, having won 11 of their last 14 games; they’re only shooting 7% as a team, and their possession game has deteriorated after a strong start, but their goaltending has been almost unbeatable. Tonight, they play at home against the second-best possession team in the NHL, and one that’s getting outstanding goalie play in its own right. The Kings play a more trapping style than the Canadiens; expect them to control the action in the neutral zone.
Detroit at Florida
- Puck Prediction (264-193) pick: Detroit
- Gamblers’ (272-185) pick: Detroit
Preview: When these teams played over the weekend, the Panthers decisively outplayed the Wings to grab a 2-1 win. Detroit is clearly struggling to generate offense with their two best players on the shelf, and though they’re clearly the better team by the advanced stats, their scoring troubles have made their games very challenging to predict this season.
Nashville at NY Rangers
- Puck Prediction (264-193) pick: NY Rangers
- Gamblers’ (272-185) pick: NY Rangers
Preview: Neither of these teams scores many goals, but the Rangers can be counted on to take a lot more shots than the Preds.
St. Louis at Winnipeg
- Puck Prediction (264-193) pick: St. Louis
- Gamblers’ (272-185) pick: St. Louis
Preview: The Jets are a talented, interesting team, but this game is a tough challenge for them. Winnipeg tends to play a fast-paced game, and to generate shots at a pretty high rate; unfortunately for them, their opponent tonight smothers offenses as well as any team in the NHL. They’re also scoring at a very high clip (9.4%), which could be an issue given the quality of the Jets’ goaltenders.
Chicago at Dallas
- Puck Prediction (264-193) pick: Chicago
- Gamblers’ (272-185) pick: Chicago
Preview: It’s not often that you outshoot your opponent 50-18 and lose, so the Blackhawks will be hoping to avoid a repeat of the last time they played the Stars.
Phoenix at Colorado
- Puck Prediction (264-193) pick: Colorado
- Gamblers’ (272-185) pick: Colorado
Preview: The contrast between these teams is a good illustration of how relying on high PDO can go wrong. After a scorching late October/early November, the Coyotes have cooled off considerably in spite of their 1013 PDO; basically, their lousy possession game has started to show in their results. The Avalanche have a staggering PDO in their own right (1029), but haven’t fallen apart the way many observers expected them to. I’m as surprised as anyone, but the Avs are actually a decent possession club, with a Fenwick Close at 50.1%.
Boston at Calgary
- Puck Prediction (264-193) pick: Boston
- Gamblers’ (272-185) pick: Boston
Preview: One has to wonder what sort of reception Jarome Iginla will get when he returns to Calgary in a Boston uniform tonight. On one hand, he was a Flames icon in his time there; on the other hand, he did the team no favors by forcing them to take a subpar trade package from Pittsburgh last season, and in general, this is going to be a long season in Calgary. Even shorthanded, the Bruins are the far better team in this matchup, with vastly superior goaltending and a much stronger possession game.
Carolina at Edmonton
- Puck Prediction (264-193) pick: Edmonton
- Gamblers’ (272-185) pick: Edmonton
Preview: It feels very strange picking the Oilers to win a game, but even a team with an awful possession game and bad goaltending should be able to handle a tired Carolina team playing their second game in as many nights. Expect a revolving door of sorts in the neutral zone (each of these teams has an abysmal 46.8% Fenwick Close) and lots of poor shooting.
NY Islanders at San Jose
- Puck Prediction (264-193) pick: San Jose
- Gamblers’ (272-185) pick: San Jose
Preview: It’s never easy playing the second game of a back-to-back on the road. It’s even harder to do so when you’re riding a 10-game losing streak. It’s harder still when you’re going up against one of the elite teams in the Western Conference, a team that’s eager to break out of their own losing streak, and one that almost never loses at home. And it’s even harder than that when you’re taking some of the league’s weakest goaltending into a matchup with a San Jose squad that generates more shots per 60 minutes than anyone in the NHL. This is a tough game for the Isles, I guess is what I’m trying to say.