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Another exciting weekend of NHL action is in the books and a fresh week lies ahead as we are only getting closer to the home stretch of the regular season. Right now is about the time when the teams that sit outside the playoff bubble really need to start putting together some winning streaks so they don’t find themselves in a situation where there are too many teams to leapfrog in to the post season picture. That’s not to say teams that are currently in a playoff spot can relax as there is not a whole lot of separation in either Conference and as is usually the case in the current point system, there will be races that come right down to the wire. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves let’s take a look at tonight’s action that features five games on the schedule.
Calgary Flames @ San Jose Sharks
My Pick – OVER 5 (-140)
The Calgary Flames will look to get back on the winning track this evening after their three-game winning streak was snapped on Friday night while the San Jose Sharks will aim to stay ahead of the Flames who are right on their heels in the Pacific Division. Thanks to winning eight of their last ten prior to Friday’s loss, the Flames find themselves back in a playoff spot and they can move in to a tie with San Jose with a regulation victory this evening. San Jose will look to shrug off a 5-4 loss on home ice to the lowly Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, a loss that came without their best defenseman in Marc-Eduard Vlasic. Vlasic is the most reliable member of the Sharks’ blueline and his presence was clearly missed on Saturday and he is questionable again this evening. However, San Jose’s offense has been clicking nicely as of late with nine goals over their last two games and they average a healthy 2.8 goals per game on the season. Calgary, to the surprise of many, averages a tick more at 2.81 goals per game thanks to unbelievable seasons from the likes of Mark Giordano, Jiri Hudler, Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and T.J. Brodie. San Jose’s powerplay that sits at 20.9%, or 8th in the league, will look to click tonight against a Flames penalty kill that ranks 25th in the league at just 78.4% on the season. The Sharks will also try to catch Jonas Hiller in a slump as the Swiss netminder was pulled from Friday night’s 4-0 loss to Pittsburgh after putting up stellar numbers in his previous stretch of games. It’s possible for this Sharks team that has its offense going right now to pounce on a goalie whose confidence was rattled in his most recent outing. Sharks goalie Antti Niemi has given up four goals in two of his last four games so nothing is a certainty there either. I don’t usually like picks with odds that however around the -140 mark, however tonight I am okay with it just in case this game is a little lower scoring than I anticipate it will be. Nonetheless, let’s go with the OVER here and start the week off with a bang.