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A light schedule in the NHL last night forced me to sit that evening out and begin my picks for this week on Tuesday. As mentioned in one of last week’s articles, the NHL trade deadline is fast approaching and now we officially sit six days away from the big day on March 2nd. There was a deal this morning as the Habs and Ducks switched young forward as Devante Smith-Pelly moves from Anaheim to Montreal in exchange for rookie forward Jiri Sekac. My view on this one is a good deal for both sides and Montreal was likely looking to add some size and grit to a lineup that does not features a whole lot of it. Anaheim has plenty of that to go around and Sekac is a high-upside Czech who had a hot start to the season but has only registered two points in his last 21 games. Many more deals are expected in the coming days and while we wait on that to happen let’s have a look at Tuesday night’s NHL action that has 22 teams in action across 11 games.
Philadelphia Flyers @ Carolina Hurricanes
My Pick – OVER 5.5 (+130)
The red-hot Philadelphia Flyers make their way to Carolina tonight to take on the Hurricanes hoping to continue their torrid run towards the second wildcard berth in the Eastern Conference. Like last year, the Flyers are trying to overcome a poor first half of the season and squeak in to the playoffs as they sit just four points back of the Boston Bruins for the final spot with the Bruins hosting the Vancouver Canucks this evening. Philly is 8-1-4 over their last 13 contests while the Hurricanes are just 2-4 over their last six outings despite knocking off the Maple Leafs for the fourth straight time on Friday night. Cam Ward will be forced with the task of attempting to stop one of the best duos in the NHL as Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek have done their part this season to pace the Philadelphia offense with 57 and 63 points respectively. The two potent offensive stars, along with Wayne Simmonds who leads the teams with 24 goals, are a major reason why Philadelphia boasts the league’s 3rd best powerplay at 23.6%, and despite going up against a tough penalty kill in Carolina, the unit definitely has game-changing ability. As good a powerplay as Philly has, there penalty kill has been equally as poor. Their PK unit sits third-last in the league at a dismal 76.5% and a Carolina powerplay that sits at a respectable 17.8% will have a good chance to get on the board tonight. Rob Zepp will make his 8th start of the season for the Flyers as the 33-year old rookie has seen much more action than expected with both Steve Mason and Ray Emery sidelined quite a bit this season with injuries. However, Zepp’s .894 save percentage this season leaves a lot to be desired and he resembles anything but a sure thing in goal for this team. This factor, among others, leads me to believe there is plenty of potential for goal scoring tonight in Raleigh so take the OVER 5.5 and let the goals fly in.