San Jose Sharks at St. Louis Blues
A swift opportunity for San Jose to avenge the 7-2 lesson handed to them by the Blues on their own ice last Saturday after bouncing back to pass both of their assignments in the interim. What might worry the Sharks is they might have inadvertently kickstarted a dominant run for St. Louis as they smashed Arizona 6-0 a few days later and can now settle in to a seven game homestand. It's been a big few performances for Blues stalwarts Alex Steen, David Backes and TJ Oshie producing a major scoring spike when they've largely played second fiddle to Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz for most of the season.
With goalie Brian Elliott also back in the fold and looking pretty sharp they couldn't be better placed to build on their already very good record at Scottrade Center. Two key areas will help the Sharks keep the scoreline down this time; slowing the rush through the neutral zone as they were totally carved up on the counter by St. Louis' precise passing and stepping up on the penalty kill too. San Jose are a good team but I can't see them cutting in the Blues momentum, take the home win at 2.02.
Florida Panthers at Vancouver Canucks
Roberto Luongo's return to Vancouver will undoubtedly be the main storyline of this contest as even though it remains an amicable split from last year I'm sure he'd love to put up a win against his former teammates. His replacement Ryan Miller is experiencing his best spell in a Canucks jersey so far and is the primary reason why they've managed to knock off a number of their rivals despite being outshot in each of the last five contests. Despite taking some hits in the last two weeks Florida deserve some understanding when their recent defeats have come versus strong opponents without getting blown away by any of them.
There's an argument the Panthers aren't getting their fair share of bounces on offence when the team ties for fifth in shots per game but only Carolina have a lower shooting percentage. Nick Bjugstad does have five points in five and continues to lead from the front in his breakout season but guys like Jussi Jokinen and Jonathan Huberdeau are playing solid hockey they just need to capitalise on opportunities a little better. I'm tipping fewer than 4.5 total goals in this one at 2.08 and jumping on the overall tie through regulation for 3.90.
Best Bet: St. Louis Blues to win at 2.02.