We started off the week on the right foot last night as my pick of UNDER 5 between the Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild at a price of +105 hit due to the Jets shutting out the Wild by a 2-0 score. I expected the game to be a close, low-scoring affair and that is indeed what transpired. However, what I did not predict was that the Jets would be the team providing the shutout as I mentioned the brilliance of Devan Dubnyk in yesterday’s piece, however this is a results-driven business and at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter how you win. A powerplay goal from Blake Wheeler in the game’s first five minutes was all the Jets would need to knock off the Wild. In fact, the Jets leapfrogged the Los Angeles Kings after the Kings were dealt a devastating 2-1 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks after blowing a third period lead, something the Kings rarely do. Now it is the Jets who occupy the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference and moved to within two points of the Wild who missed a chance to punch their ticket in to the postseason with last night’s loss. Every game from here on out is nothing short of monumental for several teams across the league so expect some playoff-type atmospheres as we move in to the final three 2-3 games of the regular season. Let’s build off last night’s win and grab ourselves another with nine games on tonight’s NHL schedule
Carolina Hurricanes @ Detroit Red Wings
My Pick – RED WINGS -1.5 (+125)
It seems I have written a lot of articles that involve the Carolina Hurricanes as of late, but this pick has much more to do with the Red Wings than it does the Canes. With Detroit tied in points with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins entering tonight’s slate of games, this game is nothing short of an absolute must-win for Mike Babcock’s club. In fact, due to the tiebreaking rules, the Red Wings sit in the final wildcard spot in the East, a position no one assumed they would be in a couple of months ago when they were near the top of the Eastern Conference standings. Detroit and Carolina have only played once so far this season, a 3-1 Detroit victory in Carolina, but the two teams will play tonight and will finish their three-game season series Saturday in Raleigh. The Hurricanes played last night in Buffalo and lost a hard-fought 4-3 contest and will be in tough to bounce back tonight in Detroit considering they have just 11 wins on the road this season. Carolina’s main detriment this season has been their offense as they score just 2.25 goals per game, good for 27th in the league. On the other hand, the Red Wings score 2.82 goals per game, 9th in the league while boasting the league’s second-best powerplay at 24%. The Hurricanes have been one of the league’s best penalty killing teams all season as they currently sit with an impressive 85% success rate while shorthanded, but their lack of scoring offsets their defensive capabilities. Jimmy Howard should make things even tougher on the Canes tonight as he boasts a 1.99 goals against average in four career starts against Carolina. On the flip side, Anton Khudobin, who likely gets the nod tonight after Cam Ward took the loss last night, has just two victories over his last 16 games to go with a subpar 2.89 goals against average. Not a horrible number, but it proves even when Carolina holds teams to under three goals on average they don’t score enough to win. Above all else, Detroit absolutely dominates the Hurricanes at Joe Louis Arena. Prior to Carolina’s April, 2014 victory over the Red Wings, Detroit had gone 16-0-0 with one tie over their last 17 home games against Carolina in the regular season. If that isn’t dominance in professional sports I am not sure what is. Detroit is a desperate team right now and they are also the best-coached team in the league. Make no mistake this team will play extremely hard tonight as they can clinch a playoff berth with two points and an Ottawa Senators regulation loss against Pittsburgh. Take the Red Wings to beat the Hurricanes by at least two goals and possibly earn a postseason berth in the process.