San Jose Sharks at New York Rangers
Nine points from the first available 10 puts San Jose atop the Western Conference standings with a 4-2 win in New Jersey last night their most recent success. Only four teams remain without a loss in regulation as the shootout loss to the NY Islanders earlier in the week is the only blemish on their record. The Rangers also played their fellow New Yorkers this week and were sunk 6-3 but recovered from that third straight loss to just about squeeze past winless Carolina via the shootout.
Over that short stretch of losses they conceded 17 goals and their average for the season sits at 4.00 goals against per game, superstar goalie Henrik Lundqvist didn't get off to the best of starts last season and it seems the same is true this time around as well. On offence they are doing OK with 13 tallies shared between just four players, Rick Nash and Derick Brassard have six and three tallies to their name respectively. Compare that to San Jose who have eleven different scorers and you'll see how scoring depth can have such a major effect, the Rangers' powerplay has also continued to draw blanks as they search for a first PP goal on the year. Home ice isn't helping New York at the moment when they've lost two of three at MSG, as the odds are close to a split take the in-form Sharks to get it done.
St Louis Blues at Anaheim Ducks
There's been a good number of clashes between top teams in the West this week and there's no let up here. Anaheim are riding the longest winning streak in the West after an admirable, ground out a 2-1 victory over Minnesota on Friday made it four on the bounce. A similarly gruelling encounter 24 hours before saw the Blues drop to a 1-0 shootout loss in LA and I think it's pretty clear that both of these clubs should make the playoffs due to their quality.
Last night St Louis thrashed Arizona 6-1 built around a hat-trick and four point night for Jaden Schwartz, that did double their goals scored total but expect to see their offence improve as they find a groove. A few doubts remained over the starting goalie positions for each team before the season began, particularly Brian Elliott's slot with the Blues looks secure as they currently have the second best defensive record.
That will be tested against a very potent Anaheim offence which is particularly fearsome at Honda Center once they get up a head of steam. As usual the tie at 3.75 is worth a go in a contest between major powers however I personally think home ice will get the Ducks through at 2.25.
Best Bet: San Jose Sharks to win at 2.55.