Arizona Coyotes at Montreal Canadiens
Early starts all round today to avoid clashing with Super Bowl XLIX and when both teams were involved last night they certainly haven't had much recover time. They experienced wildly differing fortunes yesterday with Montreal getting two very valuable points via a tight win over Washington Meanwhile the Coyotes were thrashed 7-2 by Ottawa. Those results backed up their recent form as it's now five in a row for the Canadiens without a goal conceded in the last 150 minutes of hockey, in fact Arizona allowed as many last night as the Habs have across those five victories. Earlier in the week the 'Yotes secured their first success since January 8th but that optimism was quickly shut down and they're adrift with Edmonton at the bottom of the West.
Goalie Mike Smith hasn't answered the bell since Devan Dubnyk was traded and Louis Domingue could be in line to make his first NHL start tonight. He'll need some help from the men in front because only Edmonton have been more porous at even strength and only Buffalo have a worse overall goal difference. Montreal have won nine of the previous ten clashes between these two clubs, I see them getting by easily here.
St. Louis Blues at Washington Capitals
Another cross-conference matchup although this one should be much more competitive. St. Louis are the NHL's form team right now taking 19 points from the last 20 and thriving on having an almost entirely healthy roster. That aforementioned defeat versus Montreal at least bagged a point for the Caps but beating Pittsburgh on Wednesday ranks as their only success in six. Netminder Braden Holtby has been very heavily worked of late and backup Justin Peters doesn't inspire me with too much confidence shipping five in his last start against Dallas.
Although Alex Ovechkin was kept quiet on the scoresheet yesterday he still registered eight shots and after running at just shy of a goal a game in 2015 now ties the league lead in that stat. St.Louis are really in the groove and have first place in their sights, captain David Backes is leading by example on a nine game individual point streak although at 4.35 to score T.J. Oshie would be my pick. With the odds fairly even I think the Blues will just have that extra in the tank to get by at 2.45.
Best Bet: Montreal Canadiens over the -1.5 goal handicap at 2.30