Columbus Blue Jackets at Carolina Hurricanes
Incredibly after failing to win any of their first eight games the Carolina Hurricanes have taken three straight including beating tonight's opponents on Tuesday, and that's been enough for them to leapfrog freefalling Columbus and get off the foot of the Metropolitan Division, and by freefalling I mean a terrible six losses in a row.
Injuries are a significant factor, particularly the one to goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, but they were totally outplayed three days ago and nothing can excuse such a damaging stretch during which their goal difference has taken a -15 hit. Some needle will also carry over from Tuesday night as the Jackets leader in ice time begins a three game suspension for a high hit that caused Carolina's leading scorer Jiri Tlusty to leave the game for concussion precautions. The Czech will be a late decision, though his teammates will no doubt be fired up either way.
A special mention for the Canes should go to Riley Nash and Chris Terry for stepping up and playing way above their usual level in times of adversity for their club. It could not be a more simple decision to go with Carolina here as the sinking Jackets look devoid of any confidence.
Washington Capitals at Chicago Blackhawks
Just when the mood in the Windy City was beginning to get a little down the Hawks stepped up big time on Tuesday and barrelled their way to a 5-0 victory in Montreal.
Reuniting Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to the same line seemed to spark everybody up and they should be able to continue the revival against a Washington club who have one point from the last five games. Conceding at least four times in each of those is clearly where they're going wrong, and an alarmingly quick regression from the early progress laid down by Barry Trotz. Alex Ovechkin, who now has more points for the Caps than any other in franchise history. He's been doing his best to turn it around for his team with seven points in his previous three outings.
If Chicago's offence is indeed about to open up then it could spell trouble for everybody else when they are currently holding the NHL's best defensive record. I'd be tempted by the handicap here but at the very least take the Blackhawks at 1.85.
Best Bet: Carolina Hurricanes to win at 2.20.