1….2….3 in a row I say?
Toronto Maple Leafs v. Tampa Bay Lightning (@Air Canada Centre; Toronto, Ontario)
Toronto is looking hotter than ever and is looking at this one as a must win to clinch a playoff berth and target the last 2 games as a way to move up to a potential 2 seed in the Atlantic division. With the young talent of Nylander, Matthews and Marner this team looks fresh and energetic every game. The Leafs are (7-2-1) in their last 10 while the lightning have been (5-4-1) in their last 10. The last time these two met on March 16th the Leafs won 5-0; Vasilevskiy was yanked after allowing 4 goals on 15 shots while Andersen posted a 33 save shutout. Vasilevskiy will be in net for the Lightning and he has been all but good on the road with a (7-8-3) record. On the other end of the ice Frederik Andersen has been red hot since the beginning of March posting a (9-1-2) record with a .923 save percentage. Playoff atmosphere will be intense for a Toronto home town who hasn’t seen their beloved Leafs in the playoffs since 2013. Roll with the young guns with their first taste of serious playoff atmosphere to pull ahead of Tampa Bay and win this one.
PICK: Toronto Maple Leafs to win in regulation. (+110)
Boston Bruins v. Tampa Bay Lightning (@TD Garden; Boston, MA)
With the season winding down quickly and the playoff race in full effect the Bruins have answered the call pulling off 5 straight wins and letting up an impressive (1.20 GA/G) while averaging (3.20 GF/G) in that stretch. With the Biggest game of the season on their schedule tonight they could solidify their second spot in the wild card tonight by making the point gap between themselves and the Lightning 6 points which would leave Tampa 6 points out with 3 games left (only a tie would be possible with Boston). Tampa is a mediocre road team (17-15-6 road record) and have ridden on the back of Kucherov to help their playoff hopes even exist. This game will host a playoff atmosphere in a what is sure to be absolutely wild TD Garden lined with Bruins fans. I see a tenured Bruins team toppling over Vasilevskiy and the Lightning and Rask (expected to start) has allowed just three goals in his last three games, all of them wins, and has stopped 75 of 78 shots for a .962 save percentage.
PICK: Boston Bruins to win in regulation. (-105)
After a nice 42′ minute goal by Sergio Aguero, we look to keep the streak alive with another soccer game this afternoon and touch on a good match-up with a great line for a little puck action later. First up –
Chelsea v. West Ham United (@London Stadium; London, U.K.)
In a 3pm EST game we have a strong and in great form Chelsea side (winners in 17 of their last 20 EPL matches). Chelsea had lost this game last year on the road to West Ham and I believe they will try to seek some revenge as their play has shown them to be a better team than the previous season. Hazard and Costa will look to exploit Jose Fonte on West Ham’s back line with Michail Antonio suspended for the match because of a red card. With Tottenham winning yesterday and cutting Chelsea’s lead to 7 points for the top spot in the EPL look at any games v. bottom 10 teams as “must wins” for Chelsea. Chelsea’s 19GF – 11GA away goal differential is well matched against West Ham’s 14GF – 22GA Home goal differential. Despite my love for home teams in soccer, West Ham has actually been a better team on the road, they rank 15th/20 in the EPL in home contests (5-3-5) while Chelsea is 2nd/20 in the EPL in away contests (8-3-2). I like Antonio Conte and The Blues to put this one away with a second half goal.
PICK: Chelsea to win full time (-180)
New York Rangers v. Tampa Bay Lightning (@Amalie Arena; Tampa, Florida)
As much as I’m not confident with the match-up, I just don’t see anything wrong with throwing down on the Rangers here with this great line. The Rags come into this competition as the #1 road team in the NHL (22-8-0 road record), which is actually better than their home record of (19-14-2). For some reason the Rangers just love playing on the road, they look sharper and seem to feel a lot less pressure away from MSG. As for this Tampa side they have actually been pretty good lately (6-2-2 in last 10) but when you dig a bit deeper, the strength of schedule for those last 10 has been shit. After the dealing of Bishop, there is nothing to be scared about facing Vasilevsky, and with Stamkos out for the year their offense has taken a hit. As the season is coming to an end the Rangers see themselves basically locked into the top wild card spot but looking to jump into the top 3 in the Metropolitan division (0nly 4 points out). The Rangers 2.30 GA/G on the road is a leagues best while their 3.20 GF/G on the road is second to only Montreal. Tampa is an average home team/ average team in general, I think their hot streak comes to an end tonight.
PICK: Rangers to win. (Pick’em)
Tampa Bay Lightning v. Carolina Hurricanes (@Amalie Arena – Tampa, FL)
Getting straight into this one the Lightning have looked good as of late going 6-2-2 in their last 10 games. With the loss of Ben Bishop to the Kings the other night the lightning came out firing and took a 5-1 win on the road against a great Ottawa team who is 9th best in the NHL in GAA at home AND plays the trap. Carolina is tied for 26th in the NHL in Goals For (2.23/Game) as the away team while being the 8th worst in Goals Against as the away team (3.10/Game). Carolina has also been a horrible 3-5-2 in their last 10 and is going on their 3rd GAME IN 4 DAYS. Tampa is 16-11-2 at home vs. a tired, terrible Carolina side who is a god awful 7-16-7 (the 5th worst in the NHL).
PICK: Tampa Bay to win. (-170)