Nashville Predators at Columbus Blue Jackets
It's been a remarkable December for the Jackets dropping just one point in nine games to turn around their fortunes after a dire opening couple of months. With seven of those tilts going at least to overtime there's been elements of luck about this streak but hard work and quality play by goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has always kept them involved. Nashville were the last team to beat them in regulation back on November 29th and this reverse fixture will test how much Columbus have been improved in a short space of time.
Maintaining momentum has been a Predators specialty this season and a 6-5 OT win over Minnesota at the weekend means they've kept rolling despite a rare blip for their defence. Through their goalscoring exploits Nick Foligno and Boone Jenner have played key roles in powering Columbus's revival, Foligno in particular has developed into a real nuisance of a power forward and look out for him to make his presence known on the man advantage. I'm really looking forward to the goalie duel of Bobrovsky versus Pekka Rinne and when you add that to their recent results it looks like the tie at 3.75 has a real possibility of paying out tonight.
San Jose Sharks at Anaheim Ducks
San Jose have been another team really enjoying their festive run in and could sign off for the holidays in perfect fashion by making a dent into the Ducks' division lead. Up to now Anaheim have managed to temper the impact of their state rivals' surge with great form themselves however they've already lost to the Sharks twice this season and were thumped by both Toronto and Ottawa in the last week. Both of those prior contests have been tetchy to say the least with a whopping 165 penalty minutes handed out last time they met here at Honda Center, it's been the Sharks who kept their heads better in the aftermath and capitalising on the powerplay has proved the difference each time.
With Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Logan Couture all on scoring streaks the Ducks would do well to not get drawn into the extracurricular activities but that's always a tightwalk for them to walk because aggression and physicality on the boards is major part of their identity. Bruce Boudreau has to try to find that balance but a combination of Anaheim's slack record in the big games and San Jose running hot makes the road win the value option.
Best Bet: San Jose Sharks to win at 2.85.