Colorado Avalanche at Montreal Canadiens
There’s clear air atop the Atlantic Division already for Montreal and they began a four game homestand by sweeping to a 6-4 victory over arch rivals Boston. These matchups will forever be poignant whilst Patrick Roy is head coach in Colorado, though his current goalie situation must be giving him a headache coming in.
With Semyon Varlamov already an injured reserve and Reto Berra a major doubt after being forced out early on in Thursday's loss to Ottawa it could fall to rookie Calvin Pickard to make his first NHL start. He looked edgy in that relief effort which began in only the third minute of play which is understandable considering he was barely off the plane. All in all it's one victory from five for the Avs so they have worries all over the ice in reality and the way they allowed a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes to end up 5-3 at the final buzzer was symptomatic of a team that struggles to control the tempo of hockey games.
Not one player on their roster has a positive plus/minus rating and I think the Canadiens will be licking their lips at the prospect. In form at the moment is Tomas Plekanec's line with Alex Galchenyuk and PA Parenteau, look out for them especially when the latter has the incentive of scoring against a team willing to trade him. Back Montreal for victory by a clear margin I'll be very surprised if this one goes the other way.
Philadelphia Flyers at Dallas Stars
Back to back shootout losses have built up a little frustration in Philadelphia as they keep searching for an elusive first victory of the year. A great pair of wins for Dallas on the road firstly in Columbus and then at Pittsburgh puts them in a great frame of mind to come back home and put away an opponent lacking some confidence.
Tyler Seguin cashed in with 2.9 seconds on the clock to sneak it on Thursday after firing a hat-trick only two nights before, it's fair to say he and Jamie Benn have found their groove now after I expressed some concern prior to the Columbus game. One man to look out for in a Flyers jersey is Wayne Simmonds who has five of his team's eleven goals so far, four of them have come on the man advantage and he loves to go to work in front of the net trying to disrupt and deflect. Aside from on the powerplay though Philly are lacking cohesion which has led to their poor record 5 on 5, back Dallas to come through here at 2.02.
Best Bet: Montreal Canadiens to overcome -1.5 goal handicap at 2.70.