29-27-1: So close! Neither team could buy a goal in the Thrasers vs. Habs game but ultimately it came down to the shootout. The desperate Habs played well and the Thrashers’ strong powerplay fizzled at 0/6. More picks tonight with 6 games scheduled!
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Nashville Predators +195 at Boston Bruins -235
The Bruins are now learning they’ll be without Marc Savard for 4 weeks, adding insult to the Milan Lucic injury, and they’ll need to find ways to score without their #1 center and leading scorer. The Bruins have plenty of depth up the middle with Krejci and Bergeron plugging the gaps but their lack of depth on the wings might be an issue. Nashville will be without top center Jason Arnott. Add that to the simple fact that both of these teams let in a lot of goals (3.29 goals allowed each) yet fail to muster up any consistent offense (Nashville has 1.43 goals for, Boston has 2.86 goals for). Both Nashville goalies seem to have settled down after exchanging back-to-back horrendous matchups in Edmonton and Dallas and have since held opponents to 3 goals each (notable opponents in Chicago and Washington). Both teams also share a putrid powerplay as Nashville has only converted on a league-worst 4.17% of their chances and Boston has only converted on 15.63%. In their last 10 matchups, the game total has gone under 8 times which bodes well for another under prediction tonight barring some sort of extreme goalie meltdown.
Pick: Under 5.5 goals -125
Colorado Avalanche +115 at Minnesota Wild -135
What might be most amazing about the Avs’ 6-1-1 start to the season is that they have gone 4-1-1 on what should have been a grueling road trip. They’ll take their 4-game winning streak into Minnesota before returning back home Friday. Minnesota, on the other hand, has dropped 5 straight. Colorado has the second-lowest shots in the league but still musters up 3.50 goals per game and a league-leading 1.3 power play goals per game. It’s their defense, and more notably Craig Anderson who starts in his 9th straight game tonight, that have taken centre stage. The Wild, on the other hand, can’t seem to get anything started offensively, only scoring 2.14 goals per game. In fairness to the Wild, they’ve faced Nabokov-Hiller-Khabibulin-Luongo in their last 4 games but you have to expect that Anderson’s consistent play will continue. The Wild are likely starting Niklas Backstrom who has played well this season but the Wild just can’t provide any scoring support for his starts, only scoring more than 2 goals once in 5 games. This game just screams under as Minny has gone under in 5 of their last 7 at home and the total has gone under is 6 of these teams’ last 7 meetings together.
Pick: Avs +115 and Under 5.5 goals -115
Vancouver Canucks +150 at Chicago Blackhawks -170
Well, it appears as if Luongo has cooled a bit since his tumultuous start, except when playing against division rivals. Thankfully, Chicago is not a divisional opponent and is going through some goaltending troubles of their own. Cristobal Huet has been booed out of this start in favour of Antti Niemi. Niemi has played better than Huet this season but is not as lights-out as his 1.76 GAA indicates. Take out his start against the lowly Panthers in his native Finland and Niemi is a much more human 2.65 GAA and .853 SV%. Luongo will be at the other end of the ice for the Canucks and has a lifetime 9-6-1 record against the Blackhawks. Captain Lou and the Canucks are still seeking their first road win of the season and you can believe that the chance to top the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last season will provide added motivation to grab the win. The Hawks hold nearly every important statistical advantage in this one but the Niemi vs. Luongo matchup concerns me and I think the Canucks have something to prove tonight.
Pick: Canucks +150
Keep in mind that Luongo has screwed me over every time I’ve played for or against him.