Columbus Blue Jackets vs Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning are in Columbus tonight having only lost one game to a club below them all year and I'm backing them to maintain that record.
The Bolts may be on a four-game road slide but they were 6-2-1 before an extremely difficult run vs the West. Being unable to put wins together for the entirety of November has the Blue Jackets treading water - and they are there for the taking at the moment.
Ryan Johansen has four goals and six points in the last four games to become the Jackets' scoring leader. Management has been patient with the 2010 fourth overall pick and he looks ready to assume a top role for the franchise. His efforts have been even more valuable in the absence of three of Columbus' four highest paid forwards: Nathan Horton and Marian Gaborik remain sidelined but the man showing the way earlier in the season, Brandon Dubinsky, has been skating in practice so should be ready to go.
Vezina Trophy holder Sergei Bobrovsky has been a major disappointment with his personal goals against average up to 2.81 from an outstanding 2.00 last season, I'd also call out their defensive six as under performers. A fairly even split in the odds but take Tampa Bay to show just why they are 10 points ahead at 2.45.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs San Jose Sharks
Back rolling ominously again for the rest of the NHL are San Jose, as they've built up some serious momentum winning all five games of a home stand and, tonight, Toronto are in their cross-hairs.
The Maple Leafs need to put on a show for their fans after losing the last home game 6-0 and putting on a limp effort in the rivalry game at Montreal over the weekend. That's just part of a rocky patch for Randy Carlyle's men. With one win in six and conceding 23 goals throughout that spell, the Sharks are circling and it couldn't come at a much worse time.
Throwing hits and blocking shots comes naturally to the Leafs but they've also committed more giveaways than any other team. They need to simplify their game with the puck just as do very well without it.
Last season Brent Burns switched from defence to right wing and has become a significant weapon for the Sharks. As a 6’5” power forward, Burns is great foil for the superb playmaking talents of Joe Thornton. Even if Toronto somehow manage to contain that pair it'll be Logan Couture or Patrick Marleau stepping in to hurt them. Back San Jose with a -1.5 handicap at 2.90.
Best Bet: Tampa Bay Lightning to win at 2.45.