A short memory is important in many aspects of life, and I believe it serves an important purpose when betting on sports. After an 0 for 2 night on Tuesday, we bounced back in a big way last night as we went 2 for 2 with our selections. We took the Penguins to take care of the lowly Buffalo Sabres in regulation time and Sidney Crosby and co. had no trouble doing just that as Pittsburgh cruised to a 5-1 victory at the First Niagara Center. A gutsier, tougher pick was to take the Chicago Blackhawks as underdogs to pull out a victory in Anaheim and the Blackhawks were able to shutout the Ducks and close the gap on Anaheim for first place in the entire NHL. After a perfect night we will try and gain some steam here and hit a couple more picks with plenty of action on the NHL schedule.
Calgary Flames @ New York Islanders
My Pick – OVER 5.5 (-105) @ 5 Dimes
The Calgary Flames and New York Islanders will face off tonight for the first time since December of 2011 when the Islanders came out with a 3-1 victory. These teams clearly don’t see each other very often, and my theory when it comes to cross-conference games is they tend to be more loosely played, wide open type of hockey games and I believe this holds especially true when it comes to these two teams. Both teams play poor defence and have mediocre goaltending, with Evgeni Nabokov’s very average .910 save percentage being the better of the two goalies in tonight’s game as Reto Berra sits with a .894 save percentage on the campaign. To highlight the defensive struggles for these two teams, have a look at the following stats. The Islanders rank 29th in the NHL in overall defence, surrendering 3.3 goals per game. They rank 28th in home defence, giving up 3.2 goals per game at the Nassau Coliseum this season, and they rank 26th in the league in home penalty killing with just a 78.5% penalty kill on home ice. The Flames defence ranks 26th as they give up 3.1 goals per game, they rank 27th in road defence, giving up 3.3 goals per game on the road and their road penalty kill is dead last in the NHL, killing penalties just 72.5% of the time. We all know the Islanders can score as the line of John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, and Thomas Vanek have been one of the most dangerous trios in the NHL this season with Tavares clearly budding into one of the biggest superstars in the NHL. The OVER is 6-3 in the Islanders last nine games overall and 5-1 in their last six games on home ice. I am going to rely on poor defence, poor goaltending, and a wide open game tonight to lead us to the OVER 5.5 from the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island.
Nashville Predators @ Minnesota Wild
My Pick – WILD (-137) @ 5 Dimes
The Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild will renew hostilities tonight in the State of Hockey as both teams are scrambling to rack up as many points as possible before the olympic break to keep their playoff hopes alive in an extremely difficult Western Conference. Both teams have dropped three of their last five games coming in to tonight’s contest but the Wild can secure the season series over the Preds with a victory as they have won two of the previous three games between the two clubs this season. The Predators overall scoring, overall defence, and road defence all rank 22nd in the NHL this season and they will be in tough tonight against a Minnesota Wild team who plays about as solid as you can on home ice. The Wild rank 2nd in the NHL in home defence, surrendering just 2 goals per game at the Xcel Energy Center compared to the 3.1 goals per game the Predators give up on the road. The goaltending situation in Nashville this season has been anything but stable as the team as been forced to rely on rookie Carter Hutton and newly acquired Devan Dubnyk (as well as Marek Mazanec who is now in the AHL) to hold down the fort while Pekka Rinne recovers from hip surgery and a subsequent E. Coli infection that has limited the spectacular Finnish netminder to nine games played this season. Hutton, thrown into a very tough spot, has played well at times but his 2.82 goals against average and .906 save percentage indicate he is likely in over his head for the time being, however Devan Dubnyk’s 3.43 goals against average and .891 save percentage (most which with the Oilers) is certainly not a fantastic option to fall back on if Hutton struggles. The Wild have had goaltending injuries of their own but Darcy Kuemper has played fairly well while Josh Harding recovers from health issues as he has gone 7-3-2 with a 2.52 goals against average and a .918 save percentage on the year. Nashville is just 3-9 in their last 12 road games while the Wild are 4-1 in their last five home games and 4-1 in their last five games at home against the Predators. Let’s go with the rock solid home team to continue recent success over their Western Conference counterparts.