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The Edmonton Oilers won their second straight game last night behind a stellar effort from Ben Scrivens as we suffered our first loss of the young season. The Capitals were all over Edmonton in the third period but couldn’t solve Scrivens, but if you had told me Washington would outshoot the Oilers by a 34-20 count, I still would take the Capitals every day of the week. Sometimes in hockey all you need is a standout performance by your goaltender and that is precisely what happened in this one. We won’t dwell on this one for too long as there is plenty to choose from tonight with eight games on the schedule.
Vancouver Canucks @ St. Louis Blues
My Pick – BLUES -.5 IN REGULATION (+104)
A Western Conference battle is in store tonight as Ryan Miller and the Vancouver Canucks will travel to St. Louis to do battle with the Blues for the first time since Miller signed with the Canucks after finishing last season in St. Louis. Vancouver hopes it can end a mini two-game slide but their defensive play needs to improve substantially. They surrendered six goals to Dallas on Tuesday night in the first 25 minutes of that contest, and that is after giving up four in their previous game against Tampa Bay on Saturday night. Simply put, if you give up 4+ goals to the St. Louis Blues, you are not going to win the hockey game. St. Louis is one of the hardest teams in the league to play against as they just don’t give you many opportunities to score goals. They are giving up just 1.6 goals per game compared to Vancouver’s 3.2, and both of their goalies have goals against averages south of 1.80. Jake Allen looks to get the nod between the pipes tonight in his second start of the season after beating the Coyotes 6-1 in his only other start this year. The key to victory tonight for the Blues is to shut down Vancouver’s top trio of the Sedin twins and free-agent acquisition Radim Vrbata who have combined to score seven goals so far this season compared to eight for the rest of the team combined. If the Blues can keep this line quiet, their chances of winning skyrocket, and I’m looking for this to take place as the Blues will take down the Canucks tonight in regulation time.
Carolina Hurricanes @ Calgary Flames
My Pick – HURRICANES (+135)
The winless Carolina Hurricanes will head further West tonight to Calgary after dropping a 3-1 decision to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night. The Flames are winless on home ice this season as they were clipped 2-1 in overtime Tuesday night at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Flames have actually had a surprisingly nice start to their campaign as they currently hold a 4-3-1 record on the year and welcoming Carolina to town is always a good thing these days, however let’s not mistake Calgary for a powerhouse, playoff-bound team at this point in time. The Flames boast one the league’s weakest forward groupings and are suspect on the back end as well. The Hurricanes do remain without a win this season, however it’s not like they are getting blown out of the water. Carolina hasn’t lost a game by more than two goals so far this year, and they have lost in a shootout twice. I am not confusing Carolina for a play-bound team either, however I don’t think they are playing quite as bad as their record might suggest. Getting healthier is important and they did do that recently as Jeff Skinner and Andrej Sekera returned to the lineup for the Canes at Winnipeg Tuesday, which gives them their best defenceman and a young sniper back in to their lineup. I am on the Hurricane train tonight and am looking for them to get off their winless skid at the Saddledome in Calgary.