All but four NHL teams are in action tonight, so we have a bumper Saturday of hockey in store.
Sidney Crosby and his fellow flying Pittsburgh Penguins start the feast. They've racked up seven straight wins thanks to some remarkable escape work late in the third period of games, and will surely enjoy extending that streak against the New York Rangers. Frustration is building for the Rangers as they continue to be decidedly patchy; if the season ended today they would be the most surprising absentees from the play-offs. Pittsburgh have already swept them aside twice in 2013 by three goal margins, so back the Penguins with a -1.5 handicap at 2.85.
Minnesota are beginning to threaten the rest of the Western Conference and will be trying to put more hurt on the struggling Colorado Avalanche today. The Wild have only lost to the league's top two teams in March, and will be hoping to press on properly when their schedule eases up. I'm not sure any club has shown a greater disparity between home and road efforts than Colorado: incredibly they rank first in penalty kill percentage at Pepsi Center and last away from home. As the Avalanche have again slipped to last place in the conference, the Wild look good value to complete a second win against them this week at 2.65.
The Dallas Stars are trying to maintain pace in the West and have an opportunity against the newly fallible Chicago Blackhawks. Only Patrick Kane's sweet effort in the shootout against Columbus separated Chicago from three games without a victory, and the gap between the league leaders and the chasing pack has closed significantly since their stutter. That said, some clubs may not even reach the Blackhawks' current points total by the end of the season, so it's more than safe to assume that Chicago will be play-off bound. Dallas are a tempting option back at 2.90, though I still think the Hawks will pull through at 2.20.
Best bet: Pittsburgh Penguins to overcome -1.5 handicap at 2.85