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I wasn’t able to hit two big picks in consecutive nights as my pick for last night’s games went awry on me. I had the Canucks and Blackhawks game to go UNDER the five-goal total and it went over by a longshot as the Canucks were able to shake off a late surge by Chicago to grab two road points with a 5-4 overtime victory. The pick actually didn’t look too bad as the score stood at 3-1 for the Canucks with fewer than ten minutes to go and that is when the scoring parade began. The Canucks blew a two-goal lead with under seven minutes to go in regulation as Marion Hossa tied the contest with under a minute to go, however the Sedin brothers connected on the overtime winner and Vancouver escaped what would have been a devastating loss. You can’t win em’ all so let’s turn our attention to tonight’s NHL action that features nine games.
Anaheim Ducks @ Carolina Hurricanes
My Pick – DUCKS (-125)
The last time these two teams met the Anaheim Ducks needed a third period surge to come back and tie the game, and they would eventually go on to win the game against the lowly Carolina Hurricanes on their own home ice. That happened only nine days ago and I’m sure Anaheim learned their lesson not to take these Hurricanes lightly. This will be the last game of a five-game road trip for the Ducks and they will need a win to salvage a .500 record as they are 1-2-1 so far on the trip. The Hurricanes have been playing some much better hockey since the calendar flipped to 2015 as demonstrated by their successful West Coast road trip just over a week ago, however I don’t think the Canes will be able to conquer the Ducks in this one. Despite missing number one goaltender Frederik Andersen for the next few games, the Ducks are still one of the best teams in the entire NHL. Lead by Hart Trophy candidate Ryan Getzlaf and former Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry, the Ducks are one of the toughest teams to beat in the league due to their combination of size, speed, skill and tenacity in the checking game. Not many teams can match up against this Ducks teams in all of these categories and Carolina is definitely a team that can’t. The Ducks score a very healthy 2.85 goals per game, and that includes missing Corey Perry for significant time earlier in the season. The Ducks defense should be able to get back on track after allowing 11 goals over their past two games tonight as the Canes average just 2.15 goals per game, the second worst number in the league. Even with Ducks goaltender John Gibson seeing his first NHL action since October 30th, the Ducks will continue their domination over the Hurricanes tonight as Anaheim is 6-1-1 over their last eight meetings. Take the Ducks tonight as the much better team to beat Carolina at a reasonable price.
New York Rangers @ Colorado Avalanche
My Pick – AVALANCHE (+105)
The New York Rangers and Colorado Avalanche meet tonight in a rare East-West matchup that pits one of the best Eastern Conference teams against one of the more disappointing West teams this season. The Rangers have not missed a beat after reaching the Stanley Cup finals last season and they look primed to be a serious contender once again this season in the Eastern Conference side of the playoff picture. Thanks in large part to Risk Nash’s league-leading 33 goals the Rangers sit comfortably in a playoff spot while some disappointing years from many of Colorado’s young guns have them on the outside of the playoff picture in the Western Conference. However, that is not to say that an upset isn’t in store this evening. The Rangers are once again without Henrik Lundqvist in goal for tonight’s tilt as he is still recovering from a neck injury, and backup Cam Talbot will make his fifth consecutive start in net and he is not used to this type of workload. Talbot surrendered four goals to the struggling Maple Leafs in his most recent effort on Tuesday night and his home-away numbers this season are quite different. His miniscule 1.37 goals against average on home ice is certainly spectacular, however his 3.17 goals against average away from Madison Square Garden leaves me wondering about the Rangers’ chances this evening. Over Talbot’s last four games, he has a 3.01 goals against average and will likely need some offense to support that number against the Avalanche tonight. Although the Avalanche young guns aren’t repeating their performance from a year ago, that’s not to say they flat out can’t score. There are still some very dangerous players on the Colorado roster, even veterans like Jarome Iginla who has 16 goals on the season to pace the Avs and Alex Tanguay who leads the team with 36 points. Tanguay scored the overtime winner against the Rangers back in November and I am looking for the Avs to sweep the two-game season series tonight as home underdogs.