Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers
A third and final meeting within the space of two weeks for these two after Tampa took both prior contests, the 5-1 victory at MSG was particularly conclusive and the reverse fixture ended up closer than it should have been.
It must be said though that the Rangers have won every other game during that period so it's a clash of two in-form clubs, but I just have to give the edge to the Lightning who also happen to be eight points ahead in the standings. Tampa happen to be part of the crazy situation atop the league that sees six teams all tied for the league on 34 points, they've racked up three straight at home but lost decisively in their last two road outings.
There's little doubt they've managed to outplay New York totally though, the Rangers mustered fewer than 20 shots in each game and found themselves unable to cope with the Bolts' speed and work ethic. They also managed to be dominant in the offensive zone without giving New York ample opportunities to utilise their speed on the rush, the return of star defencemen Victor Hedman can only help enhance their ability to handle the puck sensibly at the blueline.
Ryan Callahan has relished facing the unit he captained for a number of years and odds of 3.30 look decent on him adding to the three goals he has already netted against his former employers. Based on their success over the season and already in this building I think Tampa Bay will complete a season series sweep tonight.
Montreal Canadiens at Colorado Avalanche
Montreal are also a part of that group along with Tampa atop the league but that might not last if their winless streak of three extends any further. There's also the issue of their general success being unsustainable in comparison to the other leaders, no team has more wins when being outshot than the Canadiens.
An electrifying two goal effort by PK Subban took them past the Avalanche back in November and even then they were perhaps too over reliant on their penalty kill to get through In essence it's not a problem over 82 games if you have a goalie like Carey Price backing you up, much like Colorado did with Semyon Varlamov last season. The Avs are still working through those issues biting back at them and five wins from seven suggests they're getting over a pretty terrible start to the campaign.
In fact Saturday's 5-2 victory over Dallas was probably their best of the season so far and their top two highly talented lines are starting to function, captain Gabriel Landeskog is leading the way working at just over a point per game since mid-November. I'll go against the grain here and say the Avalanche are worth taking at 2.55.
Best Bet: Tampa Bay Lightning to win at 2.70