New York Rangers at Philadelphia Flyers
It's being billed as the "Thanksgiving Showdown" that's curiously a day late but any clash between these two teams is bound to include a little fire and animosity.
They'll face off in the early afternoon tomorrow too, which could mean a major swing away from the three point advantage the Rangers hold in the Metropolitan Division. Philadelphia were riding a strong home record and have slipped in the table recently because of three losses from the last four at Wells Fargo Center, in total the Flyers have won once in their last seven and that includes a 2-0 loss to the Rangers.
It doesn't fit with their poor form but I don't think I've seen Claude Giroux produce a better all-around game than he is right now and alongside Jake Voracek and Wayne Simmonds they make a fearsome first unit, the problem comes from the fact that none of their other forwards have more than eight points. New York have been trundling a little below what they should be expecting though their only recent regulation losses have come versus a strong Tampa Bay team. Getting veteran free agent signing Dan Boyle healthy finally is a big boost for them especially on the powerplay, they were struggling for a puck mover at the blueline especially with captain Ryan McDonagh also injured, and half of their PP goals for the season have been scored in the seven games Boyle has played.
This is probably a good time to mention that the Flyers have the worst penalty kill in the NHL too. Additionally slightly better form and significantly better goaltending makes New York at 2.55 the smarter choice.
Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks
An early start out West too for what should be another engrossing matchup, Cup favourites Chicago are in the midst of a road trip that's about to get tougher as they visit the Western Conference leaders. They may have had some hiccups recently with Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Francois Beauchemin sitting out significant periods, but Anaheim have still only managed to lose once in regulation during the last 12 games.
We've found out a lot about the Ducks' fortitude during this stretch in my view even though they might not be as flashy as recent seasons Bruce Boudreau has them competing hard which should serve them very well come the postseason. Chicago find themselves six points worse off yet have a +20 to +7 advantage in goal differential, the Hawks have won four out of five though three of those victories came against clubs from the bottom third of the conference.
Against fellow competitors they've struggled to get going offensively and that's typified by their 1-0 loss to tonight's opponents at the end of last month. I'm always wary of picking teams to win in Anaheim so to find the home side at 2.50 is a treat. Ducks all the way for me here.
Best Bet: New York Rangers to win at 2.55.