Sunday Picks: Will The Flyers Keep Surging?
A jam-packed Sunday for the NHL with games taking place all throughout the day. The Golden Knights will look to continue their surprise dominance against Carolina; meanwhile, in Philadelphia, can the Flyers keep surging up the standings?
Capitals vs. Flyers
The Flyers and the Capitals open action this Sunday with a 12:30 pm eastern time matchup. Coming off a game in New Jersey the night before, the Capitals will be just too much for them. The Flyers have won seven of their last nine, but the Capitals offense will just be too much for a Flyers team that will have tired legs coming into the building.
Expect the scoring defense of the Capitals to find a way to get one or two goals in on Philadelphia. John Carlson, in particular, has had a great season scoring this season. In 47 games this season Carlson has 36 points, 30 of them being assists. Matt Niskanen has also been effective in the offensive end with 13 points on the season, but his standout stat this season has been his plus/minus rating of plus 17; making him the leader of the Caps in this category.
The Capitals will most likely have their previous meeting in mind as well. Earlier this season the Flyers defeated the Capitals in convincing fashion 8-2 back in Philadelphia. The scoring onslaught of the Flyers was led by center Claude Giroux who had four points in the game.
The Flyers proved to be the more aggressive team in the first meeting, and they outshot Washington 37-23. This was the perfect combination for Philadelphia because backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer was in net for the Caps and his performance this season has been anything but excellent.
Will The Flyers Keep Surging?
They might, but versus the Caps, after a back-to-back, I don’t think they will be able to skate with the rested Washington team. It will be a battle like all division hockey games, but the scorers of the Capitals will neutralize the streaky Flyers.
Hurricanes vs. Golden Knights
Pick: Golden Knights
The Hurricanes and the Golden Knights face off in their second meeting of the season. The Golden Knights are playing at a very high level this season. With Sebastian Aho injured and the Hurricanes coming off a road game the night before I think the Golden Knights just have to play controlled hockey like they have all season long.
65 minutes wasn’t enough for these two teams as they went to a shootout where the Hurricanes eventually won. The game featured goaltenders Cam Ward and Marc-Andre Fleury who will likely be the same goalies as Sunday. Fleury has been fantastic this season for the Knights and gives them an edge in this matchup.
Canucks vs. Jets
In what will be the most lopsided matchup of the day the Jets will take down the Canucks in a leisurely fashion. Both teams are coming off back to backs, but the Canucks will have less than 24 hours between game times.
The scoring from guys like Blake Wheeler and Patrik Laine will be the biggest difference maker in the matchup. Wheeler has recorded a point in eight of his last nine games and currently leads the team with 53 on the season. The Canucks do not have anybody to match the style of play that the Jets have. The Jets will win this game in convincing fashion.
Sharks vs. Ducks
The Ducks and Sharks are separated by just one point in the Pacific Division standings. The Honda Center will be electric for this game, and it will be a must watch. The Ducks struggled early in this season, but they have managed to collect themselves, and they are playing terrific hockey as of late, but the Sharks have done a lot of the same.
This matchup is a toss-up. There will be a playoff-like atmosphere, and that usually makes the games low scoring and extremely physical. I think San Jose will take this one only because their attack is balanced and I like them in physical games a little bit more than Anaheim, but as I said, any weird bounce could change the outcome of this game.
Rangers vs. Kings
This game will be the second game of a four-game Western road trip for the Rangers, because of this, I like the Kings to take this one. Both the Kings and Rangers are playing for playoff spots, but being on the road and being without defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk I just don’t think the Rangers will have enough to beat the Kings.
Goaltender Jonathan Quick might be the only way the Kings lose this game. In Quick’s last five games he has given up 3.2 goals per game and had a save percentage of .900 percent. In those games, the Kings are 0-5. If Quick continues this play the Rangers have a shot at stealing this one, but I expect Quick and the Kings to get back on track.
The question of will the Flyers keep surging or not will be answered on Sunday. I like the Capitals to beat the Flyers, the Golden Knights to take down the Hurricanes, the Jets to beat up on a far inferior Canucks team, the Sharks to win a crucial division battle with the Ducks, and the Kings to take down a beaten up Rangers squad.