Nashville Predators v. San Jose Sharks (@Bridgestone Arena; Nashville, TN)
With San Jose on the end of a really long road-trip and riding a 5 game losing streak, this seems like a very winnable game for the Predators. Nashville is (22-8-7) at home, (5-3-2) in their last 10 while on a 2 game home winning streak and holding a hot Calgary side to one goal in their last competition. The Sharks haven’t only looked bad, but have been out-shot horribly in their last 2 and I just find it hard to see them getting it together and finding an answer tonight. San Jose has been (4-6-0) in their last 10 with a previously mentioned 5 game losing streak hindering them right now. In the last meeting with San Jose at home the Predators were able to stick it to them 3-1. Pekka Rinne is 3-0-0 with a 0.99 GAA and .959 SV% in his past three starts (Via. Adam Vingan – Tennessean) and has looked near impossible to put one past lately. With Nashville tied in points with St. Louis they are eyeing down this game as a way to get themselves out of the wild card and in the 3 spot of the Central Division. Not to forget, Martin Jones posted a sub .900 save percentage last game. This Sharks team is lost. Roll Preds.
PICK: Nashville Predators to win in regulation. (+115)
Canadiens really shit the bed on us last night. Time to move forward.
Anaheim Ducks v. Winnipeg Jets (@Honda Center; Anaheim, CA)
Winnipeg is coming into its 3rd game in 4 days after looking slow last night and getting blown out by a Kings team who has troubles putting the puck in the net 5-2. Winnipeg also leads the league in penalties, and as you know – tired teams take more penalties. Jets have taken 256 penalties in 74 games (3.5 penalties a game) and even better; they’re 29th on the PK at a pretty bad 76.2% kill percentage. Anaheim is on a 2 game win streak and is the 5th best team at home (24-8-4) and (7-2-1) in last 10. The Jets are also without top defenseman Tyler Myers, backup goalie Ondrej Pavelec, and other top players Jacob Trouba and Tobias Enstrom. The tables are already turned on a mediocre away team who is (15-16-6) on the road and (5-4-1) in their last 10. The last meeting between these two sides ended 3-2 Ducks in Winnipeg. With a win here, Anaheim could tie for #1 in the Pacific. For a team like Winnipeg whos goalies don a .897 save pct collectively and give up a leagues 3rd worst 3.19 GA/G, this is not a good looking spot. The Ducks are great at keeping the rubber out of the net in the Honda center and rank a 2nd best in NHL 2.09 GA/G at home. The Jets also have the issue at the goaltender spot, do they start Hellebuyck again (when goalies playing in back to back games put up significantly worse numbers)? Or do they go with Hutchinson (who has a sub .900 save percentage so far this season)? Either option is great for the Ducks; ride them to an easy win here.
PICK: Anaheim Ducks to win in regulation. (-135)
Lets keep it alive with some more NHL action while soccer remains dead.
Montreal Canadiens v. Carolina Hurricanes (@ Centre Bell; Montreal, Canada)
Despite Carolina’s recent success (or what seems like success) it is still a very easy spot to target a home Montreal Canadiens team. Carolina is still the 6th worst team in hockey on the road with a god awful (10-17-9) record. Although Carolina has been 6-1-3 in their last 10, when you take a closer look you see that 3 of those wins were against expansion level teams. Two were against Colorado and Arizona and the third trash win was against an Islanders team on the road starting Jean-François Bérubé who consistently puts up sub .900 save percentages. This 6-1-3 does not reflect their ability to take a road game v. an incredibly hot Carey Price in the Bell Centre. The Canadiens are 7-2-1 in their last 10 and look to stomp on the Canes’ who will be playing their 4th game in 6 days. Now a little bit on the goaltending match-up: Price stopped 30 of 31 shots in the Canadiens’ win over the Senators on Sunday. Price has been impressive, going 6-1-0 with a 1.55 GAA and .942 SV% in seven March starts (Via. John Lu – TSN). Lack allowed two goals on 29 shots in the Hurricanes’ win over the Predators last Saturday. He has won his last two starts while allowing just three goals on 57 shots (.950 SV%) (Via. Amanda Stein – TSN).
PICK: Montreal Canadiens to win in regulation (-110)
*TARGET THE DEVILS AT (+240) TO WIN IN REGULATION V. TORONTO PLAYING ITS 3RD GAME IN 4 DAYS WITH MCELHINNEY IN NET FOR A LOW RISK HIGH REWARD PLAY*
Ottawa Senators v. Boston Bruins (@TD Garden; Boston, MA)
Being able to target the Senators in regulation with a line as incredible as this one (+215) v. a team on a back-to-back using the SAME goalie as they did last night is a great position. Both teams haven’t been playing well, Boston has dropped their last 2 while being 6-4-0 in their last 10 while Ottawa has been 6-2-2 in their last tine while dropping their last 4 in a row. Despite that small piece, Ottawa has been great away this year (5th best in NHL and have more road wins – 20 – compared to home – 19-). After watching the Bruins struggle to score v. Toronto last night, I doubt they’ll have an easier time putting up numbers against a much better Ottawa defense that is known to play the trap when they get a lead. Boston will have to travel from Toronto and be ready to play tonight while Ottawa is looking at this great opportunity to distance themselves from Boston while putting themselves within 2 points of Montreal’s number 1 spot in the Atlantic Division. And now the goaltending match-up – Rask is 3-4-0 with a 2.68 GAA and .904 SV% in March. The 30-year-old is 0-2-0 with a 3.07 GAA and .889 SV% in his first two starts against Ottawa. (via. Joe Haggerty – CSN). Anderson for Ottawa has gone 2-0-0 with a 1.50 GAA and .936 SV% in two starts vs. Boston this season (via. Bruce Garrioch – TSN).
PICK: Ottawa Senators win in regulation. (+215)
*POTENTIAL LATER WRITE UP DEPENDING ON GOALTENDING MATCH-UP IN WILD/SHARKS GAME*
After a brief St. Patty’s Day absence, lets get back on track.
Toronto Maple Leafs v. Boston Bruins (@ Air Canada Centre; Toronto, Canada)
After looking at this slate tonight there is no doubt that this will be the best game tonight, with the Bruins a game in hand and 3 points up on the Maple Leafs both teams will be scratching and clawing at points in these last 11 or 12 games. The Leafs have not made the playoffs since 2013 and sit in the 2nd wild card spot to the Rangers, however this game plays a huge swing for them as they could steal 2 potential points from the Bruins while adding to their point total as well overall leading to a 4 point swing for either side tonight with how the playoff picture is looking. What’s interesting about this fixture is the goaltending matchup. Frederik Andersen has gone 4-1-2 with a 1.99 GAA and .940 SV% in seven March starts and tonight he faces the Bruins for the fourth time—he is 3-0-0 with a 2.33 GAA and .929 SV% in the first three (via. CSN’s Joe Haggerty). Rask was pulled after he allowed five goals on 17 shots in the Bruins’ loss in Edmonton last Thursday. Despite the rough loss, Rask is expected to start both games of the Bruins’ key back-to-back on Monday and Tuesday. Rask is 0-1-0 with a 4.69 GAA And .788 SV% in two starts against the Maple Leafs this season (via. TSN’s Mark Masters). In the tendency of streakiness when it comes to goaltending, this is a great target match-up for a great line with a home team in need of a win and the playoffs on the line.
PICK: Toronto Maple Leafs to win (Even)
Atletico Madrid v. Bayer 04 Leverkusen (@Vicente Calderón Stadium; Madrid, Spain)
After a 4-2 away victory for Atletico Madrid in the first leg in Germany the pressure is on Leverkusen to produce in this one. However Leverkusen has been riding the struggle bus hard lately, Sacking manager Roger Schmidt for Tayfun Korkut leading to a 1-1 home draw v. a much weaker Werber Bremen side. All the tides are turned here for the German side and I think the fire power of Atletico will be way too fierce on home turf for Bayer (proving that way in the first leg when Bayer was actually the home team). With what seems to be all of their significant defenders out for the match, there will be immense problems on the back-end for Leverkusen which will ultimately lead to a dominating performance by this Madrid side. Even though Atletico will advance with a draw, I do not think they will be satisfied going into the next round in that form and will also want to perform for the home crowd. Look for Leverkusen to be over-run by the strong Spanish side.
PICK: Atletico Madrid to win. (-190)
Since the Hockey space has been absolute shit lately, teams getting blown out left and right at home, teams that shouldn’t have a prayer actually pulling off wins, lets get back to the hot soccer space.
Juventus v. FC Porto (@Juventus Stadium; Turin, Italy)
Coming into this second leg of competition between the two sides, we know a couple of things. Juventus has taken the first match on the road (2-0 victory) leaving the task of scoring 2 away goals up to Porto to even have a shot at advancing. In Juventus stadium this is near impossible. Juve has won all 15 of their home games in the Calcio A this season and during that run has scored a whopping 38G while only allowing 8G. Knowing Juve’s incredible ability to attack at home, I see no reason as to why they won’t push to get at least one goal in this ficture, therefore REALLY putting the pressure on Porto to score 3 on the road and leaving them incredibly vulnerable to these great Juve forwards on counter attacks. 73% of Juve’s home games have seen over 2.5 goals. Since the 2-0 loss to Juve, Porto has been on a tear scoring a total of 12 goals in their last 3 matches. It will be incredibly tough to keep both sides out of the back of the net in this match-up given Juventus’ amazing attack and Porto’s urgency. I believe a late goal will aid the over in this one and the match finishes 2-1 Juve.
PICK: Juventus v. FC Porto (over 2.5 Goals)