Thursday Picks: Boston Looks To Get Back To Winning Ways Vs. St. Louis
A busy day for the NHL as there are 12 games to be played on Thursday night. The Bruins and St. Louis lead the way in what should be a tremendous cross-conference battle; therefore, this game is my matchup of the night. The Bruins will look to get back to their winning ways vs. St. Louis.
Bruins vs. Blues
The Bruins are coming off an insane point streak that was halted at 18 by the Ducks on Tuesday night. Brad Marchand was suspended by the NHL for five games because of an elbow; consequently, the Bruins offense took a notable hit in the pace of play on Tuesday.
In St. Louis, the Blues are riding a three-game winning streak, but all this is their first road game since the all-star break; however, St. Louis has had success when crossing conferences this season. In their 24 games played they are 16-7-1.
Opposite of the Blues the Bruins have not enjoyed success when playing Western Conference teams.
They still have a winning record, but their 10-7-2 record is nothing to boast about, and against teams in the Central they are just 3-3-1.
Brayden Schenn Stealing the Tarasenk-show in 2017
Brayden Schenn joined the Blues from the Flyers, and he has had a breakout 2017-2018 season. In addition to Schenn’s 21 goals, he has 29 assists giving him a team-leading 50 points on the year. Schenn has stolen the show from Vladimir Tarasenko in 2018, but I’m sure Blues fans aren’t too angry.
Who Will The Bruins Turn To?
The Bruins need to find a way to get back to their winning ways, but without Brad Marchand for the next four games, it will be challenging. Pastrnak and Bergeron will get it done. They scored last night, but they are going to have to turn another source to pick up the slack from Marchand.
I would expect Danton Heinen to be the one to pick up this slack if it happens. The 22-year old centerman has 33 points so far this season and has been a fantastic player this year. He has had two point streaks reach four games this season, but starting one now would be huge for Boston to get back to their winning ways.
Blues Will Keep Boston From Getting Back To Their Winning Ways
I predict that the Blues will take this one. The Blues are hot right now, and the Bruins are just starting what I think will be a hard four games without Marchand. The Bruins don’t play well out of their conference, and I expect that to continue in this one.
Hurricanes vs. Canadiens
The Hurricanes got Sebastian Aho back Tuesday night, and they were not disappointed. Aho netted a goal versus the Senators in a 2-1 win Tuesday night. Before Aho’s injury, he led the team in points and was looking to be the all-star representative from the Hurricanes. Having Aho back will give the Canes an extra burst of energy these next few games.
Montreal is a team on the outside of the playoff picture, as a result of this if they lose a couple more games they could become sellers at the deadline. I expect the Hurricanes to take this one at home against a struggling Canadiens team.
Sabres vs. Panthers
Although the Sabres have played reasonably well recently, they will be going up against a Panthers team that just took advantage of a bad defense with a 4-1 over the Islanders. Buffalo is 28th in the NHL for goals allowed per game. They will be going up against an awful Florida offense that shows flashes at times.
Florida’s top three scorers Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck and Aleksander Barkov are very productive. All three have over 40 points this season and when they get scoring it comes in bunches. I expect these three to get going against a horrible Buffalo team.
Devils vs. Flyers
The Flyers and Devils meet in a division battle, but the Flyers are trending upwards in the standings; meanwhile, the Devils have struggled lately. This is a game that I am going to play the hot card. It will be an intense division battle, but the Flyers have all the momentum going their way right now. The Flyers will continue their winning ways, while the Devils continue to trend downward.
Rangers vs. Maple Leafs
This game is a matchup of two excellent offenses with below average defenses behind them. I think it will be one of the more entertaining games of the night scoring wise. Obviously, Toronto has their fair share of scorers with Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitchell Marner, but the Rangers have their excellent scorers as well. Mats Zuccarello, Pavel Buchnevich, and J.T. Miller pave the way for a very solid Rangers offense.
This game is a toss-up between whatever offense gets hot. I’m going with the Rangers in this one simply because the Maple Leafs are coming off a game the night before. The fresh legs of the Rangers will allow them some opportunities later on.
Senators vs. Ducks
The Ducks are the far superior team in this matchup. Ottawa’s offense is bad, and their defense is even worse. Their bottom three on the penalty kill unit; therefore I think the Ducks will skate circles around the Senators at home. The Ducks had a huge win on Tuesday night when they snapped the Bruins 18 game point streak, and currently are right in the thick of the race for the Pacific division. With every point mattering I expect Anaheim to take care of business against a far inferior Ottawa team.
Jets vs. Golden Knights
Pick: Golden Knights
The Jets and the Golden Knights are a matchup of the two division leaders in the Western Conference. Both teams bolster top five scoring offenses, while at the same time having very good defenses. This game will be an intense matchup with lots of pride on the line. Winnipeg is two points behind Vegas for the one seed in the West. Both teams will be looking to continue their winning ways in what should be a great game.
I think the difference in this game will be takeaways. The Golden Knights are averaging a takeaway/giveaway rating of 1.2. They are one of just six teams in the NHL that have a rating above one, and it is a direct correlation to their play this season. I expect this game to be very close. The teams are similar on offense, defense and special teams play; therefore I could see this game going to overtime, but I do think the Golden Knights will win.
Kings vs. Predators
Just like the Vegas and Winnipeg matchup, the Predators and Kings are two very evenly matched Western Conference teams. Nashville recently just got Mike Fisher to come out of retirement. Fisher probably won’t be on the ice for a few games yet, but the signing of a veteran player to bolster a cup run always adds a little motivation.
The difference maker in this game just might be the Predators power play against the Kings penalty kill unit. Los Angeles has the best penalty kill unit in the entire NHL with an 86.2 percent success rate, but they are going up against a Nashville power play that scores 23.8 percent of the time.
I got a feeling that penalties will be the difference in this one. The Kings do not have that great of a power play, but the Predators bring it on the penalty kill. The Predators special teams make them my favorite to take this one against the Kings.
Flames vs. Lightning
The Flames are riding a five-game losing streak going into a game versus the top team in the NHL. Nothing can be said about the play of the Lightning that hasn’t already. They are dominant in every phase of the game and have had very few situations where they have looked inferior to their opponent. I like the Lightning to take this one against a vulnerable Calgary team.
Oilers vs. Avalanche
The Avalanche are slowly starting to come down from their monstrous win streak right before the all-star break. The process may get sped up, however, without leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon. MacKinnon has fueled the Avalanche offense this season. He is second in the NHL in points with 61, and his two-way abilities have been second to none. Without MacKinnon, I expect Colorado to struggle a lot and the Oilers will take this one.
Coyotes vs. Stars
Dallas has been a team of ups and downs all season. Some nights they look like one of the best teams in hockey and on others, they look like a cellar dweller; however, they are going up against a Coyotes team that has looked awful all season.
Arizona is the worst team in the league offensively, and they’ll be going up against a Dallas defense that is very good. Dallas’ woes have come on the offensive end, but their defense should be able to handle the Coyote’s offense, and their struggling offense should get some goals in on Arizona. I like Dallas to win this one.
Canucks vs. Blackhawks
Chicago is finally starting to pick up their style of play recently. They’ll be going up against a young Canucks team that has struggled all season long. Chicago is a top ten offense ‘in the league and they are going up against a Canucks team that ranks 26th in goals against. I like the Blackhawks to take this one in Vancouver.
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