Max Goals in Minny?
Two of the hottest Over plays over the past few weeks do battle Tuesday night in Minnesota as the Wild entertain the Central Division-rival Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago has reeled off six consecutive road victories, each coming in the past seven games; the Blackhawks’ offense has been on point over that stretch, scoring four or more goals in all six of those triumphs – including a 4-3 overtime win over the host Wild on Feb. 8. Minnesota reeled off five Overs in a row earlier this month but has settled into more of an Under groove of late, going 2-3-0 O/U in its last five games. The teams are 4-0-1 O/U in their last five games in Minnesota.
More Trouble Bruin in LA?
Every game from here on out is critical to a team’s postseason chances – and the Los Angeles Kings wasted two chances to earn two points at home last week as they dropped decisions to Arizona and Florida. A return to Staples Center this week might not bear much more fruit as the Kings face off against a red-hot Boston Bruins team that comes into the week having won four games in a row. The Bruins extended their run in the opener of their four-game West Coast trek, earning a 2-1 overtime win over the San Jose Sharks. But recent history favors Los Angeles, which has won five of the last six home meetings with Boston.
Leafs-Habs Resume One-Sided Rivalry
There’s dominance, and then there’s what the Montreal Canadiens have been doing to the Toronto Maple Leafs over the past three years. The Canadiens have won 13 consecutive meetings with their Original Six rivals as the teams meet yet again Saturday night at Air Canada Centre. Montreal has nine regulation victories, an overtime win and three shoutout triumphs over that span – winning six straight in Toronto and seven in a row at the Bell Centre. Goal scoring has been a major bugaboo for the Maple Leafs, as they have scored one or zero goals in six of their last 10 meetings with the Habs.
* The Ottawa Senators are holding their breath about the availability of forward Mark Stone, who took a shot to the head in Sunday’s game against Winnipeg and is being treated for a suspected concussion. Stone has six goals and six assists over his past 10 games, during which the Senators have gone 5-5 SU and 4-6 O/U.
* The New York Islanders haven’t missed a beat despite being without bruising forward Cal Clutterbuck, who is sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury. The Islanders are a solid 5-3-1 SU and 6-2-1 O/U over that stretch, and come into the week just one point back of Toronto for the second Eastern Conference wild-card berth.
* Jets rookie phenom Patrik Laine has been named the NHL’s first star of the week after racking up five goals and three assists in four games last week. Laine posted three multi-point efforts in that span – and that usually bodes well for Winnipeg, which is a red-hot 14-1-1 in games in which Laine records more than one point.
* The Washington Capitals have dropped two straight games, and avoiding a third consecutive defeat could hinge heavily on whether Alex Ovechkin can overcome his season-long struggles on the road. Ovechkin has just 10 goals, 11 assists and a hideous minus-9 rating in 28 games away from Verizon Center in 2016-17.
* It appears the Toronto Maple Leafs have finally reversed a strange trend when it comes to games in which rookie sensation Auston Matthews lights the lamp. Toronto won just three of the first 11 games featuring a Matthews goal, but are a scintillating 10-0-1 in those situations since Dec. 22.
Stanley Cup Futures
* The Columbus Blue Jackets continue to be one of the surprising movers in Stanley Cup Futures odds; according to Sports Interaction, the Blue Jackets are a strong +850 option to take home the NHL championship this June. Columbus has faltered of late – going just 5-6-1 in its last 12 games – but remains fourth in the NHL in points.
* On the other side of the coin, the Florida Panthers were seen as a decent Stanley Cup bet prior to the season – and are now struggling to earn a spot in the postseason. The Panthers enter the week a whopping +4,000 to win it all, though that number might see some action with Florida having won four games in a row going into Monday.
* It’ll require a healthy Laine and a whole lot of luck, but the Jets could be an interesting underdog selection if it can remain competitive in the Western Conference. Winnipeg comes into this week a single point behind the Calgary Flames for the second wild-card spot, making its +10,000 odds to win the Cup an enticing longshot play.
* Not even a high-end total can contain the Pittsburgh Penguins at home, as they come into Monday’s action with a 20-8-3 O/U mark at PPG Paints Arena. The Penguins saw their first 6.5 home total of the season last week, and Over bettors were rewarded with a 4-3 Pittsburgh overtime victory over the Jets.
* The New Jersey Devils have entered the fray as one of the “pushiest” teams in the NHL, recording three pushes in their last five games – all at home. The Devils are 10-11-7 O/U in New Jersey and 11-11-9 O/U away from Prudential Center, their 16 pushes on the season is second only to San Jose’s 18.