Minnesota Wild at Columbus Blue Jackets
The 6-2 win over Boston last time out was a big statement from Columbus when many of their recent success had come because of clutch plays in OT or the shootout, the Jackets still have plenty of work to do to get back into the Metropolitan's postseason picture but few clubs have had a better December.
As Minnesota go the other way sliding away from the playoff spots the pressure rises for coach Mike Yeo and although they briefly impressed in the playoffs last year under Yeo the Wild have never fired through the regular season which means he's never amassed that much good will.
Mikael Granlund might be considered an underperformer but his injury still hits the team at center and excellent young defenceman Jonas Brodin hasn't made the trip either.
Long term the issue remains goaltending, no side allows fewer shots on average than Minnesota however the poor save percentages of Darcy Kuemper and Niklas Backstrom have hampered their very solid defensive play.
Expect Scott Hartnell to spend a lot of time in close quarters with Kuemper after two goals on his return from injury Saturday night, that's especially true on the powerplay when heavy shooters Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski are firing from the blueline. There's no doubt Columbus are the play here at 2.55 as they really deserve to be favourites considering the drastic difference in form.
Arizona Coyotes at Dallas Stars
Both clubs involved here have played two, won two since Christmas and will certainly want to carry that momentum through into 2015.
The added bonus for Dallas is wrapping up a season series sweep and they should feel confident of doing so when they've won six of the previous seven. Arizona are 5-5 in their last ten on the road but three of those wins came over lowly Edmonton and when they've lost it's tended to be clear, only the Oilers and Buffalo have more multiple goal defeats.
Admittedly most of those occurred with Mike Smith in net and not the man who has stolen his starting job Devan Dubnyk, he's playing well right now but Dubnyk's career to date suggests it might not last.
Whilst I wasn't too sure about the progress Dallas were making the successes against St Louis and the streaking NY Rangers within the last week is good evidence of them tightening up defensively. I'm taking the Stars to shut down Arizona's short streak in convincing fashion over the -1.5 handicap at 2.65.
Best Bet: Columbus Blue Jackets to win at 2.55