Pick 1 – Will Florida score at least 4 goals? – Winnipeg Jets @ Florida Panthers – 7 pm ET
Despite the popular pick with 88% of participants picking a NO, I’m confident in Florida’s ability tonight at home. I’ll start with their opponents, the Winnipeg Jets who are coming into this one off a hard-fought 6-4 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning last night. What instantly popped to mind was tired legs on the back end of a back-to-back for the Jets. Florida, on the other hand, has not played since New Year’s Eve and come in a well-rested team. Aleksander Barkov is scheduled to miss this tilt with a lower-body injury which is a blow to Florida’s offense but they have more than capable players in Jagr, Trochek, and Marchessault to pick up the slack. The Jets have actually given up four or more goals in their previous three games and I can very well see this tired club giving up a four-spot again.
The team will most likely feature G Michael Hutchinson between the pipes who has given up 6 and 5 goals to the Islanders and Blue Jackets respectively in his last two starts. He’s 4-7-2 on the season with a 3.18 GAA and .894 SV% which doesn’t exactly bode well for the Jets. Hutchinson wasn’t in goal the last time these two teams played, a 4-3 SO win for the Jets. But I’m very much expecting a similar high-scoring affair. Florida average 2.44 goals per game at home which is only T-23rd in the league but the rest factor is why I’m leaning towards a YES here. If Florida can pick up a couple goals throughout the first two periods, fatigue will become a factor in the third and we could very well see an empty-netter being the decider in this pick.
Pick 2 – Which team will win? – New York Rangers @ Philadelphia Flyers – 8 pm ET
Pick: NY Rangers
As a Flyers’ fan who grew up in New York, this pains me to say but I just don’t see the Flyers winning this game in the form they’re currently in. Losers of four straight and six of their last seven, the Flyers once-potent offense that led them to a W10 in December has seemingly dried up. Before Sunday’s 4-3 SO loss to the Ducks, the Flyers had managed just three goals in their three previous games being shut out twice in that span. On a positive note, the team looked dominant against Anaheim peppering John Gibson with 55 SOG but was unable to come away with a win. The team will be energized tonight as they play at the Wells Fargo Center after their four-game road trip but I feel this is going to the be the typical Flyers-Rangers games we’ve seen of late.
Philly will come out firing on all cylinders, drive play for a good portion of the 1st period and then take a penalty allowing the Rangers to score a goal giving them the confidence moving forward. How many times I’ve painfully watched “King” Henrik Lundqvist save the Rangers by bending over backward to stymy the Flyers offense before settling in and bringing home a win for the Blue Shirts. Thankfully he played last night so Raanta could get the nod. (How can he be the King with no Ring?). On the other end of the ice, the Rangers will be looking to atone for their freak 4-1 loss to the Sabres at MSG last night. I’m hoping that fatigue plays a factor here and that the Flyers can benefit from Raanta in goal who gave up 7-7-3-3 in his last four starts. Maybe I’m just an angry Flyers fan but I have a good sense with this team, I’m going with the Rangers tonight.
Pick 3 – Will Ryan Getzlaf have an assist? – Detroit Red Wings @ Anaheim Ducks – 10:30 pm ET
Ryan Getzlaf is second on the Ducks in scoring with 30 points and leads Anaheim in assists with 25. Before registering a helper against the Flyers, Getzlaf had gone six games without an assist but I fully expect him to feature on the scoreboard tonight. In his only game this season against the Wings, Getzlaf scored one point – an assist. The main reason I’m going with a YES pick tonight is the fact that the Wings have been playing some high-scoring games of late and if they fall into the same trap tonight against the Ducks, Getzlaf will surely feature on the scoreboard. The Red Wings rank 13th in the NHL with 10.35 PIM/game, that’s 13th from the league-leading Flames who average 12.18 PIM/game. What that tells me is that the Wings are prone to going to the box and the Anaheim PP is where Getzlaf thrives. The Ducks rank 2nd in the NHL with a 24% efficiency rating and a lot of that can be attributed to Getzlaf’s 11 PPA this season. I’m not sure the Ducks will win but Getzlaf will get plenty of chances to notch that single assist he needs for this pick to come through.
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