A quick look at the schedule shows that most teams have around 20 games remaining. At this point, the time for the playoffs to get here can’t come soon enough. The intra-divisional play, although necessary, has become a bit overdone. The same matchups over and over again are losing their luster. This of course is not everyone’s opinion. The validity of this season compared to a normal one has to be put in question when we look back at it. Given the circumstances, we are fortunate to even have a season. On to the matter at hand, making picks. Here are my favorite plays for Saturday night.
Season record: 22-14-1
Betting Odds provided by Jazz Sportsbook. Please gamble responsibly.
Dallas Stars at Carolina Hurricanes
The Dallas Stars are still playing meaningful games as they are five points out of a playoff spot. They will have their hands full tonight against the third-place Hurricanes who are just a point out of first with games in hand. The Stars are 0-for-eight in the next game following a victory and are 3-3-4 in their last 10 contests. Underlying numbers suggest that they are outplaying the opponent more times than not recently but are not getting quality goaltending. Over the last 10 games, they hold an advantage in scoring chances, 215-167. Anton Khudobin has just a .898 save percentage while Jake Oettinger is just slightly better at .900 in their respective last 10.
Carolina continues to be a part of the elite tier of NHL teams. They are 4-1 in their last five and 6-2-2 over their last 10. Like the Stars, they have out chanced the opponent 212-182 in the last 10 games. Unlike the Stars, though, they are getting more than adequate netminding. Once thought to be the weakest link, the goaltending position is a source of pride over recent play. James Reimer has strung together six victories in his last 10 games while posting a respectable .915 save percentage. The younger Alex Nedeljkovic has been a pleasant surprise while filling in for the injured Petr Mrazek. He is 7-2-1 with a .939 save percentage over his 10 more recent contests. The first year ‘tender was just recently hailed rookie of the month for March.
Forward Vincent Trocheck is fresh off an injury and hasn’t missed a beat since his return. Despite missing games, Trocheck is second amongst all Cane players with 14 goals on the season. He has notched a point in every one of his last eight games played(5G, 5A). With the Hurricanes getting stable goaltending and wanting to continue to hang with the big boys in the division, you’ve got to like them here against Dallas who just hasn’t been right all season long.
Ice Pick: Carolina Hurricanes -170
New York Rangers at Buffalo Sabres
Buffalo finally actually won a hockey game after somehow stringing together 18 consecutive defeats. They promptly dropped their next game Thursday, albeit in overtime, to the upstart New York Rangers. The Sabres have been miserable virtually all season long but have actually mustered a point in each of their last three games(1-0-2). They were extremely fortunate to escape their most recent contest versus the Blue Shirts with anything but a defeat. Sabre backup goaltender Dustin Tokarski was peppered with 47 shots but somehow stopped 44 of them.
New York continues to surge and is now just three points away from fourth place Boston. They have scored 43 goals in their last 10 games, second-best in the league. The Sabres will have their hands full in handling the Rangers’ potent scoring attack. Defenseman Adam Fox has 16 points in his last nine games while forward Ryan Strome has 15 points in his last 10.
Taking a side here will not net much of a profit unless you are parlaying the Rangers with other picks, or for some forsaken reason, putting money on the woeful Sabres. For me, the play here is the over. New York seems to be scoring at will lately while Buffalo has given up the eighth-most scoring chances against(229) over their previous 10 games and rank third-worst in goals against all year(3.44 GAA).
Ice Pick: Over 5.5 -135
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Main Image designed by Jeremy Guerin @jeremyguerin_7