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After the first couple weeks of the NHL season, we have had some time to evaluate teams across the league. What we don’t know yet is the difference between who is simply coming out of the gates hot and who is actually going to be for real this season. We will be looking to answer that question along with many others on a daily basis here at NHLPredictions.org.
New York Rangers @ New Jersey Devils
My Pick – RANGERS (+110) @ 5dimes.eu
One team that certainly came out hot to start the year is the New Jersey Devils. The Devils rattled off three consecutive wins to start the campaign but have been slowed down recently, dropping their last two games. Almost the complete opposite can be said of the Rangers as the Broadway Blueshirts gave up six goals in their first two home games of the season, but most recently played their best game of the year in a 4-0 shutout of the San Jose Sharks. The bad news for the Devils in this one is Henrik Lundqvist has already been lit up twice this season, is coming off of a shutout, and likely has put the worst goaltending of the season behind him already. Furthermore, Rick Nash has been absolutely unstoppable this season with seven goals, eight points, and a +5 rating in just six games played. Martin St. Louis got on the board with a goal in the win over San Jose, and with lesser known complimentary forwards such as Chris Kreider and Derek Brassard contributing a combination of scoring and physicality, this Rangers team that went all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals last year will likely be very tough to play against once again this season. The rivalry between the Rangers and Devils never gets old and I like the Rangers to come out on top tonight as road underdogs in the first of four games between these Metropolitan division foes.
Carolina Hurricanes @ Winnipeg Jets
My Pick – JETS -.5 IN REGULATION (+107) @ 5dimes.eu
I would not want to be in the Winnipeg Jets locker room after what turned out to be a fairly embarrassing loss to the Calgary Flames on Sunday night in their home arena. Head Coach Paul Maurice was not in a good mood with the media yesterday either and trust me when I tell you that the veteran bench boss gave his team a stern talking to over the last couple of days. On the bright side, a great bounce-back opportunity lies ahead against a winless Carolina Hurricanes team that is somewhat resembling an AHL team at the moment. Both Eric and Jordan Staal are injured and out of the lineup, Jeff Skinner has missed the first four games of the season due to a concussion but might play tonight, and their top point getting defenceman from last season Andrej Sekera joins the Staal brothers on the sidelines after sustaining an injury recently as well. Despite being a non-playoff team since hockey returned to Winnipeg, the Jets do possess one of the larger home-ice advantages in the league as the MTS Centre can be a tough place to play for the visitors when the crowd gets involved in the game. Although the Jets have scored just a pair of goals in their last four games (and very due for a breakout), they have surrendered just a single powerplay goal this season for a 95% rate so far on the penalty kill. It is early, however strong special teams usually play out very well on home ice so I will look for the Jets to bounce back and take care of the lowly Hurricanes tonight in regulation time.