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It was a tough night last night as I failed to hit either of my picks and took a step back on a night where there were plenty of options on the board. The Sabres and Wild unexpectedly lit up the scoreboard for a total of nine goals, but unfortunately for us the Sabres only potted three of the nine and dropped a 6-3 decision to the hometown Wild, sinking our Sabres +1.5 pick. The Coyotes and Flames also lit up the scoreboard in their tilt last night, but it was Calgary who was able to come away with the victory by a 5-3 margin, keeping their three-year home winning streak over the Coyotes in tact. Nights like this are sure to happen of the course of a season, so I am not worried one bit heading into the weekend. Six games are on the slate tonight so let’s get back at it.
Columbus Blue Jackets @ Philadelphia Flyers
My Pick – FLYERS – 1.5 (+145)
The Columbus Blue Jackets arrive in Philadelphia to take on the Flyers as one of the most injury-plagued teams in the NHL. The team has been decimated by injuries this season, notably to Nathan Horton who’s career seems like it is very much in jeopardy, as well as key contributors like Brandon Dubinksy, Artem Anisimov, Mark Letestu, Ryan Murray, and above all else, former Vezina trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky broke a finger on his catching hand late in October and is very likely to once again be out of action tonight as the Jackets look to tame the Flyers red-hot offense on home ice. Instead, backup Curtis McElhinny will likely get the nod for Todd Richards team, and that is bad news for Blue Jackets nation as the veteran backup currently sits with a 3.76 goals against average and a .887 save percentage on the year. The Flyers are humming along nicely right now as they are 7-3 over their last ten games and boast a home record of 5-1-2 on the season. Compare that to the 1-8-1 record for Columbus over their last ten contests and their record of 2-5-1 away from home. Philly’s 3.21 goals scored per game ranks near the top of the league thanks to the likes of Jakob Voracek who is white-hot with 22 points in his first 14 games of the season. I am looking for the Flyers to take advantage of a Blue Jackets team that surrenders 3.67 goals per game this season and take this one by at least a two-goal margin.
New York Islanders @ Florida Panthers
My Pick – OVER 5.5 (+115)
The New York Islanders travel to Sunrise tonight to take on the Florida Panthers as they look to win their fifth straight game in the first of three between the two clubs this season. New York has won their last two games in shutout fashion, which is slightly surprising give the style of their play. They have been better defensively as of late, however in recent years their offense has had a lot of pressure on them to score 4 or 5 goals a night to secure a victory. Their 3.07 goals for per game has benefited them to this point as they are five games over the .500 mark and can actually take control of the Metropolitan Division tonight with a win and a Penguins loss in Toronto. The biggest reason I like the over tonight comes down to special teams. Both team boast penalty killing percentages well below par as the Panthers kill off 78% of their penalties, while the Islanders are at a mere 72% clip on the penalty kill. Considering both of these teams averages over 11 penalty minutes per game, this means there can be 8 or so powerplay opportunities in this game against poor penalty kills. The Islanders powerplay unit is particularly dangerous with John Tavares and Brock Nelson each tallying four powerplay goals this season. The shutout streak definitely ends tonight for the Islanders, while these two teams will open up and play back-and-forth hockey to decide this one.