Carolina Hurricanes at Chicago Blackhawks
It's trade deadline day in the NHL and there's always some possibilities some major headlines have been made before the on-ice action begins. Chicago have already been busy bringing in center Antoine Vermette and defenceman Kimmo Timonen, both very astute additions to an already strong roster. The club needed a boost after Patrick Kane's injury and just two wins in six, Tampa Bay put them down authoritatively 4-0 on Friday. I'm particularly interested to see what Timonen can do the Blackhawks' average powerplay with his composed puck moving skills. Justin Faulk continues to do just that job for Carolina and now leads the team in points after picking up 11 in the last 10 games.
He bagged a powerplay marker in the strong win over the NY Islanders last time out which also made it three straight victories for the Hurricanes. Those have been dominant successes too creating a lot of opportunities against some very good teams like the Isles and Washington. It's admirable to see them scrapping without much to gain and against a Chicago side who've looked a little complacent I'm going for it, with Carolina to win at 4.80.
Montreal Canadiens at San Jose Sharks
Carey Price and the Canadiens are flying after the 4-0 shutout of rivals Toronto made it four wins in a row for the Eastern Conference leaders. Price is now the clear frontrunner for the Vezina Trophy awarded to the NHL's best goaltender each season, he hasn't been beaten more than twice in any of his previous ten starts. A huge test for San Jose who have the fans on their backs, only Arizona have worse form across the entire league. No wins from eight home outings this month is an awful return and the third period collapse to lose to Ottawa on Saturday laid bare a poor mentality.
It's an easy target but questions have to be asked of their leadership structure of a group of alternates, why take the official captaincy away from Joe Thornton and fail to name a proper successor? Montreal's defensive group is in line for credit too – PK Subban and Andrei Markov put up a combined 11 points last week. They may allow more shots than most of the other major contenders but plenty of those are looks from the outside. I can't see things getting better for the Sharks tonight so take the Canadiens to extend their winning streak to five.
Best Bet: Montreal Canadiens to win at 2.65.