Well folks it doesn’t get much uglier than that as we took one on the chin last night with our NHL selections, going 0 for 3 in what was an evening to forget. After scoring 6 goals Sunday afternoon, the Washington Capitals couldn’t register a single tally Tuesday night and fell 1-0 to the lowly New York Islanders… at home. The red-hot Maple Leafs also came out with a stinker as they showed zero compete level and were downed 4-1 by the basement-dwelling Florida Panthers, sinking both of our picks for that game. We were beaten by two of the bottom three teams in the Eastern Conference last night, something that cannot be said very often. Nights like that are always part of the betting business so we will clear our heads and move forward with a couple of picks including one of the best games on the NHL schedule this week.
Chicago Blackhawks @ Anaheim Ducks
My Pick – BLACKHAWKS (+100) 5 Dimes
The top two teams in the NHL will collide tonight in Southern California as the Chicago Blackhawks are looking to make up some ground on the Anaheim Ducks for the coveted Presidents Trophy, awarded to the team that finishes the regular season with the most points. Up until about 2 weeks ago taking the road team in Anaheim was betting suicide, however the Ducks have certainly been cooled off at the Honda Center in recent weeks, dropping four of their last six contests on home ice. The Chicago Blackhawks are coming off of an impressive 5-3 road win over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night, a game which could possibly signal a turnaround for a club that has dropped five of its last seven games. The Blackhawks special teams have improved along with the overall play of the team as Chicago has scored a powerplay goal in each of their last three games and four total over that stretch while their penalty kill has surrendered just a single goal over their last five games. The Blackhawks rank second in the league with a 26.3% powerplay away from home this season and are tops in the league in both overall scoring (3.5 goals per game) and road scoring (also 3.5 goals per game). Although Anaheim’s scoring numbers are right up there with that of Chicago, they have scored just twice in their last two games and just twice per game in regulation against Chicago this season. Also important to keep in mind for tonight’s game is the Blackhawks are 13-0-6 against the Pacific Division this season, so any loss this team has suffered against Anaheim’s division this season has been a one goal affair in extra time, so expect a close game. I feel a surge coming from the Blackhawks heading into the last quarter of the NHL regular season so let’s see it start tonight in what should be a great game from So. Cal.
Pittsburgh Penguins @ Buffalo Sabres
My Pick – PENGUINS -.5 in regulation (-127) 5 Dimes
The Pittsburgh Penguins look to continue their success over the Buffalo Sabres tonight as the teams meet for the third time of the 2013/2014 campaign. Pittsburgh has taken the first two meetings of the season series and will be looking for the series sweep over the struggling Sabres from the First Niagara Center in Buffalo. This is a simple case of worst vs. first tonight as the Pens sit atop the Eastern Conference with 80 points on the season, while the Buffalo Sabres sit alone in the very bottom of the standings with just 38 points on the year. You definitely cannot sleep on any team in this league, and recent history suggests the Penguins haven’t taken the struggling Sabres lightly over the last couple of seasons. The Penguins are 11-4 in their last 15 games against Buffalo and 4-1 in their last five visits to the First Niagara Center. Look no further than special teams to dissect the reasoning for Pittsburgh’s continued success over the Sabres. The Penguins are clicking on the powerplay at a 25.7% clip over their last ten games against the Sabres compared to Buffalo’s whopping 3.7% success rate over the same ten games. Yes Buffalo has recorded just a single powerplay tally against Pittsburgh since March of 2011 and their 14.8% clip on the season doesn’t exactly put fear into the opposing penalty kill. The Penguins average 3.11 goals per game on the season compared to Buffalo’s 1.84 which is dead last in the NHL along with their 2.1 goals per game on home ice. The Sabres are winless in their last five games at home and have won just two games over their last 11. The Penguins have too much firepower and skill for this Sabres team who’s only hope tonight is Ryan Miller. Take the Penguins to take care of the Sabres tonight to widen their Eastern Conference points lead.