Last night we suffered a minor setback here at The Sports Geek as the Toronto Maple Leafs ended their losing streak and defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning. With our losing selection on the Bolts, our record now falls to 27-14 on the year, but we enter Thursday evening confident we can get back on track with a winning selection.
We’ll turn our attention to a battle of two west-coast teams who are currently both in funks. The surprisingly struggling Vancouver Canucks will travel to the desert to take on the Phoenix Coyotes.
Vancouver Canucks (-115) @ Phoenix Coyotes (-105)
Both teams enter Thursday night desperately seeking points in any way possible. Vancouver has been surprisingly disappointing on the season, and though much of their struggles can be attributed to a vast array of injuries, they still have a plethora of underachieving players. That said, they played exceptional in their last game against St. Louis and will hope to build some momentum off of that for this key game against the Coyotes.
Meanwhile for Phoenix, they’re simply reeling right now. The ‘Yotes have dropped their last four games, and six of their last eight. Their tight defensive systems that have defined this group in years past are nowhere to be found and as a result, they’re currently on the outside looking in with regard to the play-offs. They struggle to score, and that will be a huge problem Thursday night against a Vancouver team with strong goaltending and defensemen. Phoenix has scored just two goals in their last four games, and were somehow shut-out in three of those contests. Phoenix is a mess right now, and despite all of Vancouver’s injuries, the Sedins and that great goaltending should propel Vancouver to obtaining two points.
Vancouver not sitting atop the Northwest Division is a rare sight and that has to bother a veteran-laden group like the Canucks. Though they’ll be without Zack Kassian, David Booth, Ryan Kesler, and Chris Higgins, key players have stepped up of late, and their organizational depth should overwhelm a Phoenix team that continues to fade. Corey Schneider was a stud against the Blues on Tuesday, and will carry over that play into a solid outing Thursday night. As just small favourites, consider a depleted Canucks squad to get a key road victory in the desert.
PICK = Vancouver (-115)
As is usually the case, Thursdays are busy nights for the NHL and tonight is no different. Below are some bonus picks for tonight’s consideration.
Bonus Pick #1: Montreal (-120) The Habs were upset about losing their most recent outing against the Sabres and will bounce-back in a big way. Montreal is one of the most disciplined groups in the league, and they’re too deep not to overwhelm an overachieving Islanders squad. Carey Price is playing great at the moment, and even if the Habs aren’t at their best, expect Price to will his team to obtaining two points. Consider Montreal as short road favourites.
Bonus Pick #2: Boston (-140) Though this selection is a tad chalky, look for the Bruins to bounce-back following a disappointing defeat in their last game to Winnipeg. The Bruins haven’t been themselves over the past few weeks and know they need to start going if they’re to win the Northeast Division. Look for David Krejci to suit up for Boston, and their full complement of players will ultimately overwhelm a depleted Ottawa team. The Sens are already without Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson, and Craig Anderson, and their recent losses of Milan Michalek and Marc Methot cannot possibly help matters. The Sens are a pesky group, but the B’s are too explosive to drop tonight’s contest. Consider Boston as road favourites.