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After a national holiday in both the United States and Canada, I am back tonight with a couple of NHL picks to throw at you. This is always an interesting time of the year in the NHL as we are less than two weeks away from the trade deadline and as usual, speculation and rumors are coming in by the bunch. This is never an easy time of the year for players that are having their names floated around in these rumors, especially those on poor teams with expiring contracts who are sure to be moved in the very near future. This is also the time of the year where teams need to decide whether they are buyers or sellers, and also where the sellers become spoilers. With all that in mind, let’s take a look at Tuesday night’s NHL action.
New York Islanders @ Carolina Hurricanes
My Pick – OVER 5.5 (+105)
The Islanders and Hurricanes meet in Raleigh, N.C. tonight for the third meeting of the season after the Islanders laid claim to the first two meetings by scores of 5-3 and 4-3. New York comes in to this one having lost 6-5 last night to their arch rival the New York Rangers after holding a 5-3 lead in the third period. A tough one to swallow for sure and it makes me wonder how this team will come out of the gates tonight after such an intense and emotional loss plus the added nuisance of having to hop on a plane right after the game. Carolina is also playing the back end of back-to-back games this evening, however they were on the right side of a 6-3 decision last night in Ottawa. Carolina might want to play better defense against the Islanders this time around, but that’s something that is much easier said than done. John Tavares has a whopping 12 goals and 13 assists over 13 careers games against the Hurricanes including five points in his two games this season against Carolina. Not making matters easier for the Canes tonight is the fact they are giving up an average of 3.57 goals against per game over their last seven in which they have gone 3-3-1. The good news is they scored six goals last night and there is a good chance they will avoid Jaroslav Halak and face backup Chad Johnson in tonight’s game. That is good news because Johnson’s 3.33 goals against average and .873 save percentage are near the bottom of the NHL in both categories and are certainly welcomed by any opposing team. Neither team seems to commit an overwhelming amount of effort on the defensive side of the puck and that was on full display in their back-to-back meetings to start the season. Take the OVER 5.5 tonight and look for more goals to be scored between these two teams in their third meeting of the season.
Dallas Stars @ St. Louis Blues
My Pick – BLUES – 1.5 (+140)
The Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues collide this evening for their third of five meetings this season after the first two games ended in 4-3 scores. The Blues defeated Dallas 4-3 in overtime way back in October while the Stars got their revenge and won 4-3 in December. The Stars got a small taste of what life could be like without their leading scorer in Tyler Seguin as they dropped their latest game by a 4-1 count to the Colorado Avalanche and although a small sample, the high-powered Stars offense managed just a single goal and one cannot help but wonder if this could be a trend moving forward. Seguin was knocked out of the lineup for at least a month after being on the receiving end of one of the dirtiest hits of the season delivered by Florida’s Dimitri Kulikov. Things don’t get any easier for the Stars tonight as the Blues are 15-2-1 in their last 18 games and have won three in a row before opening a four-game homestand this evening. Dallas’ offense without Seguin is really going to be tested tonight as Brian Elliott’s sparkling 2.10 goals against average and .925 save percentage are a big reason why St. Louis gives up just 2.41 goals against per game. Compare that number to Dallas’ 3.16 goals against per game and perhaps you can understand my reasoning for this pick. Factor in that the Blues are the league’s 5th highest scoring team with 3.05 goals per game and we could have ourselves a lopsided affair tonight. Take the Blues to win this game by at least two goals at a price that we can all get along with.