It may indeed be “Spring Break” for me right now, but having hockey at the back of my mind is a nearly impossible habit for me to break. Furthermore, it is days like this Friday that make me want to continue doing what I’m doing, as a 4-6 games per day is the perfect medium between having too many and having too few games to look over. Hence, I am taking a few hours away from relaxing in front of the TV, to produce an impromptu edition of Computer Picks.
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Tampa Bay Lightning at Washington Capitals
The Lightning have only lost by a goal each time in their two visits to Washington this season, but Tampa Bay has allowed a ridiculous 24 goals against in their last 5 road games, and a whopping 23 of these goals against have actually come 5-on-5. Their solid recent PK numbers might actually suggest that they are playing with good effort, but one glaring issue for them has, of course, been goaltending. Meanwhile, Washington isn’t necessarily at the top of their game right now either, as their last two games have gone to overtime, and frequent defensive lapses lately have caused them to get into some needlessly close games. Given the betting line, I can’t say that I like either side, and the total of 7.0, albeit funny-looking, is also very difficult to bet one way or the other.
Pittsburgh Penguins at New Jersey Devils
New Jersey has actually swept this season series so far, but the major issue that Pittsburgh was having against the Devils was the inability to produce on the PP. Pittsburgh appears to have resolved some of their season-long powerplay issues lately, as they have now gone 7 for their last 19 opportunities (37%). Was Pittsburgh’s PP that bad or was New Jersey’s PK that good? This is where we’ll find out. Unfortunately, there may be too much uncertainty here to actually place a sound bet on this game.
New York Rangers at Atlanta Thrashers
Here we have two teams that are both riding 4-game losing streaks, and are both within striking distance of a playoff spot, but one of these two teams, the New York Rangers, will almost certainly be more disappointed if they don’t get to go to the dance. Atlanta’s playoff aspirations may have ended when they traded away their best player; meanwhile, New York made late trades to bolster their lineup, and given the talent that they have up front and in net, missing the playoffs would be an epic failure for them. Don’t be surprised if they play like the more desperate team here.
Los Angeles Kings at Dallas Stars
I may have mentioned this before, but it is worth reiterating that the Los Angeles Kings are the “rulers” of the Pacific Division. Dallas is yet another division rival that the Kings have feasted on this season, going 4-0 against them, and outscoring them 9-2 in their building. The Stars may certainly have revenge on their minds here, but given how they have started the month of March, they may just be thinking about how soon they can hit the golf courses. Dallas has fallen back in the playoff race, and with that, their defensive effort has fallen back as well, as they have averaged 39 shots on goal against in their last 4 games, and have not done any favours to Marty Turco’s GAA. The Kings still have a lot to play for, and their impressive 20-12-2 road record this season certainly makes them worth a look.
Other Games: There are actually two other games on the board this evening, but heck, I’m still on vacation.