Florida Panthers to Toronto Maple Leafs
Florida really need these points in their playoff push and can't afford to miss chances against clubs already out of the running.
The decision to trade away Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli on Sunday ranks as an admission of defeat from Maple Leafs front office.
While the return they got was decent it weakens the lineup right now - veteran Olli Jokinen is the only piece who could go straight in and the Finn has six points all season.
Franson was their top scoring defenceman and Santorelli a second line winger so both are significant losses. Peter Horachek coached the Panthers through the majority of last season but couldn't persuade them to extend him beyond an interim term.
It wasn't a happy reunion for him back in December when the Cats ran out 6-4 winners with six different scorers.
Their offence has looked a lot less dangerous recently though with just two goals scored across the last three games. Dmitry Kulikov is also unavailable because of his crazy low hit on Tyler Seguin last Friday, Brian Campbell and Aaron Ekblad logged season highs for ice time two days later covering for his absence.
That means tonight they'll be seeing a lot of Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk although both of the Leafs' star men are slumping badly. We're at that time in the season when three point games become the norm so the tie at 3.85 looks the best play, at a push I'd lean towards Toronto as the home side.
San Jose Sharks at Nashville Predators
League leaders Nashville own the longest winning streak in the NHL and are aiming to make it six by dusting off the Sharks.
Franson's arrival offsets Ryan Ellis's injury and stocks them up with another big, puck-moving blueliner, Santorelli is a major upgrade on Jokinen too.
Last time out the Sharks were ran ragged by Tampa Bay especially 5 on 5 and of any team in a playoff spot they have the worst goal difference at even strength.
Giveaways are undermining their play at both ends of the ice with the team racking up more than any other across the league; Brent Burns, Joe Thornton and Logan Couture are the main guilty parties for trying too much.
Burns is having a great offensive season but can make some uncomfortable plays in his own zone, I think Barry Trotz will look to target him.
The Predators will definitely use their energetic forwards and go to work on the forecheck, an essential part of what's made them to successful at home. It's a simple decision to pick Nashville out as winners here.
Best Bet: Nashville Predators to win at 2.02