Florida Panthers at Edmonton Oilers
It's been a great week for the Panthers dusting off Vancouver and Calgary but it might not be so simple to round out the Western Canadian sides with Edmonton looking much more competitive under new coach Todd Nelson.
Since Christmas the Oilers have a 3-2-2 record and their generally improved play has led to convincing victories over Chicago and the NY Islanders. Most of the progress has been on the defensive side of the puck in front of some equally better performances from starting goalie Ben Scrivens and neither of those regulation losses came with Scrivens starting in the cage.
Taylor Hall has nine points in nine, Jordan Eberle four goals in five and Derek Roy has proved a surprisingly useful cheap trade pickup providing some extra depth and experience through the centre.Even with some new found confidence it'll be difficult to break down the Panthers, as the elder statesmen on the blueline Brian Campbell and Willie Mitchell continue to excel as leaders on what is a very youthful roster overall.
It's on the road where the Cats really impressed thanks to the fact they know their limitations and don't do anything fancy, the proof is in their away record rivaling those at the top. It's been two months since the Oilers put back to back wins together and I see them missing out again, take Florida at 2.30.
Winnipeg Jets at Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks have already taken two hits on their current extended homestand and Winnipeg should fancy their chances of causing further disruptions after winning in LA just last night.
Four days to dwell on the 4-1 defeat to the NY Rangers should have festered with Anaheim as they were certainly outclassed over the 60 minute. Winnipeg's top line of Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler has a combined 31 points in the last nine games which will be hard to slow down when the Ducks are on a streak of allowing three or more goals.
I'd like to take the Jets tonight but I'm equally reserved about their defence considering the likelihood that Ondrej Pavelec plays in net rather than Michael Hutchison going twice in 24 hours, he's allowed four goals in each of his last three starts and the surprising early season form looks a long way off.
I don't doubt that the team can hang with Anaheim offensively right now though and will take on the tie at 3.95 as well as over 5.5 total tallies at 2.20.
Best Bet: Florida Panthers to win at 2.30