Pittsburgh Penguins at Chicago Blackhawks
Back to back wins have put Pittsburgh in a good frame of mind to go to United Center. Warranted or not the story here will always be Sidney Crosby versus Jonathan Toews, two of Canada's biggest names and Stanley Cup winning captains in close quarters. Chicago are riding a five game point streak but are on a slower pace than the other contenders for their division. Marian Hossa has joined Patrick Kane's scoring party with seven goals in four games and the Slovak also had two points when these two met last month, odds of 3.90 on him to net again tonight seem like very good value.
Kane continues to be sensational and now holds an outright lead in the individual scoring race. As two of the perennial cup favourites, if they were ever to meet in the finals I'd be backing Chicago. Key forwards that play a smarter two-way game and extra depth on defence will always show up in a best of seven series. That being said there's little doubt the Penguins have made a huge jump in the right direction in coach Mike Johnston's first year, they've conceded just one goal in the last three games Marc-Andre Fleury has started in net. When two very good teams meet the tie is always a solid play.
Washington Capitals at Anaheim Ducks
A tough situation for Washington coming off a 3-1 defeat in LA last night and being forced straight back into the fray. Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau led the Caps for four years so knows most of their core players very well and adds an extra plot line to the contest. I'm sure he'd love to get one over his former team too, however neither of those counted for enough when Ovechkin and co. sealed a shootout win back at home nine days ago.
Washington have found it tough on the road of late winning just two of the last eight and only conceding fewer than three goals once during that time. Going to work without Ryan Getzlaf at 100% is difficult for the Ducks but at least the Ilya Bryzgalov experiment seems over and youngster John Gibson should start in net tonight. Anaheim at 2.05 should be solid against opponents playing twice in 24 hours, I'd consider the handicap but the Capitals are rarely blown away.
Best Bet: Chicago and Pittsburgh to tie at 3.75.