New York Rangers-Detroit
Concluding a five game road trip in the Big Apple gives the Detroit Red Wings the chance to end it with a flourish, though their 50% record could go either way.
Their two wins and two losses is an okay return especially taking into account that those defeats came in San Jose and Anaheim, but lying a point in front in the standings and two games ahead, the Rangers' stock has been rising for a while now, taking 13 wins from the last 18 available to give a real sign they are coming together under Alain Vigneault.
Pavel Datsyuk is set to captain host nation Russia at next month's Olympics but only if he can recover from the "lower body" problem currently keeping him off the ice.
The Red Wings’ injury list stretches to six all-important players, including three likely Swedish Olympians in winger Johan Franzen, defenceman Jonathan Ericsson and goalie Jonas Gustavsson.
Indeed both clubs will be well represented in Sochi, and for the Rangers Rick Nash has been steadily improving which can only be a good thing. Devastating at his best, Nash is almost their leading goalscorer despite missing a third of the campaign.
I see these two as incredibly well-matched and as their only other matchup earlier in the season went to overtime, taking on a tie through regulation at 3.85 seems the balanced option.
The Philadelphia Flyers might have had their home winning streak ended last Saturday, but they are presented with a great opportunity to get right back on the horse when they host the Predators, a club which has gained only one road win since the beginning of December.
Prior to that minor blip during their weekend back-to-back, the Flyers hadn't suffered successive defeats for a month. Either of those losses could have gone their way though, and at the moment Claude Giroux is leading an offence growing in confidence and that I'll back to see them through tonight.
As the most proficient faceoff team in the league, the evaporation of Nashville and coach Barry Trotz's trademark defensive solidity is baffling. Only Edmonton are in a greater scoring deficit at even strength, and their inability to control the puck has led to issues at both ends of the ice.
Changes are already afoot, and having moved for a goaltender yesterday it seems likely that Devan Dubnyk could instantly get the nod tonight after his acquisition from Edmonton.
Dubnyk will be pleased to join what has historically (admittedly a lot less so this year) been a goalie-friendly system, and he should be an upgrade over Carter Hutton or Marek Mazanec, with Pekka Rinne remaining unavailable.
For me only a brilliant Dubnyk debut will see this going the Predators' way, so back Philly over a -1.5 handicap rather than banking on Nashville’s new man.
Best Bet: Philadelphia Flyers to beat -1.5 goal handicap at 2.75