We missed another one last night in what turned out to be a low scoring affair between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Pittsburgh Penguins. It looked very promising early for our pick as the Penguins got on the scoreboard just over 30 seconds into the game, but Morgan Reilly’s first NHL tally was the only other goal until late in the 3rd period in what turned out to be a 3-1 victory for the Penguins. Plenty of action across the NHL tonight as 12 games occupy the NHL schedule so let’s try and find some winners in what should be a good night in the hockey world.
Vancouver Canucks @ Minnesota Wild
My Pick – WILD (-105) @5Dimes.eu ($520 free)
The Vancouver Canucks will be looking to extend their win streak to eight straight games tonight as they travel to Minnesota to clash with a former Northwest Division in the Wild. The Canucks are undefeated in December so far and put an exclamation point on their recent streak with a 6-2 pounding of the hated Boston Bruins on Saturday night in Vancouver. Although that is an accomplishment in itself, tonight’s matchup will certainly not be easy as the Wild are an excellent 13-3-2 at home this season and have won their last three games at the Xcel Energy Center. Minnesota has been one of, if not the stingiest defensive team in the league this year as they gave up just 2.2 goals per game and their new number one goaltender Josh Harding has been one of the biggest stories in the NHL this season as he leads the league with a 1.49 goals against average while going 17-5-3 in 26 appearances on the season and winning four of his last five games. If nothing else, this Wild team is in just about every game they have played this season. In their last four games the Wild have encountered some of the best competition the league has to offer in two games against the Sharks, one against the Ducks and the one against the Colorado Avalanche. They came out 2-2 in those four games but all of them were decided by two goals or less. Although the Canucks are arguably the hottest team in the NHL at the moment, I still like the Wild and their suffocating back end to shut them down to end the streak. The Wild are 9-2 in their last 11 home games and 7-3 in their last 10 games at home against the Canucks. Take the home team to end the Canucks streak tonight.
Chicago Blackhawks @ Nashville Predators
My Pick – BLACKHAWKS (-155) @5Dimes.eu ($520 free)
The Chicago Blackhawks rebounded nicely off of a Saturday night drubbing they received at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs to beat the LA Kings on Sunday by a count of 3-1, once again showing the resiliency of a championship calibre team. The Predators have won their last three games and have scored 10 goals in the process, finally finding some offensive contributions while their netminder Carter Hutton sizzled with a .948 save percentage last week. Prior to the Predators back-to-back home wins over San Jose and Dallas, they had dropped their previous four contests on home ice and are just 2-4 in their last 6 games in the Music City. The biggest discrepancy between these two teams this year is on the offensive side of the puck. The Blackhawks lead the NHL with an average of 3.64 goals per game on offense compared to just 2.33 goals for per game for the Predators, almost a goal and a half difference. The Blackhawks have fired 40 or more shots at the Predators in three of their last five head-to-head matchups, while the Predators have fired 30 or less shots at Chicago in every game of he same five game stretch. I am not sure the goaltending of Hutton can hold up when he is being peppered by the type of skill the Blackhawks can throw at you every single night. Patrick Kane is right near the top of the league with 45 points on the season while Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith all have at least 30 points this season. Keith is likely in the lead for the Norris trophy at the moment as the league’s top defenceman, and along with Brent Seabrook the two compose one of the league’s top shutdown pairings as they are a combined +32 on the season. Chicago is an impressive 12-5-1 on the road this season and are 7-2 in their last nine road games. They are also 6-1 in their last 7 trips to Nashville, so take the league’s best team to win another road game tonight from Music City.