Colorado Avalanche At Winnipeg Jets
It's too obvious to say the Jets are flying under the radar although there doesn't seem to be too much talk about them surprisingly holding a playoff spot right now. Seven points from the last eight and the fourth best defensive record in the NHL is keeping Winnipeg above the likes of Minnesota and San Jose.
Equally impressive is the way they adjusted to a bad start to the season, the Jets have just one two goal loss since losing five of their first seven games by a multiple goal margin. At the beginning goaltending played a huge part in that turnaround yet now the extra confidence has led to a real improvement in the play of Tobias Enstrom, Jacob Trouba and Zach Bogosian at least in their own end. The Avs had a little bit of bad luck with a disallowed goal in Winnipeg last night but still failed to control the game by giving up two third period leads, it must have been a deflating loss, however at least they get a quick chance to get back into it.
Belonging to a group of four teams that has won under half the games in which they've scored first is not a good place to be though, Patrick Roy's men haven't gained any real traction all year and have never won more than two tilts in a row. Winnipeg have been particularly good at freezing out teams in the lower part of the standings and I'll back them to get the two points here at 2.30.
Montreal Canadiens At Chicago Blackhawks
Back on November 4th I called the Habs to beat Chicago at home and they ended up receiving a 5-0 thrashing, so I won't be making the same mistake especially since the Blackhawks have been one of the league's form teams since that win last month.
Success against St Louis two days ago made it four in a row coming in to tonight and the last three have come versus the three Western Conference clubs closest to them in odds to win the Cup. It's all been a real message of intent to their rivals and notably Patrick Kane was at it again with a two goal performance to cap it off. In contrast to that you have Montreal winning just one of their last five outings in pretty limp fashion, Minnesota kept them quiet until Alex Galchenyuk's late consolation on Wednesday despite a number of powerplay opportunities and unless they shape up I don't see them being able to hang with Tampa Bay at the peak of the Atlantic Division for too much longer.
It's strange to see them struggling in the possession game with their talented defensive group and strong performance in the faceoff circle, maybe there's a case for them being a little too fancy trying to get through the neutral zone with their high number of giveaways. Either way I'll call a clear win for Chicago here as recent seasons have told they can really rack up a long winning streak.
Best Bet: Chicago Blackhawks to overcome a -1.5 goal handicap at 2.70.