Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs
Only one place to start after Randy Carlyle's firing as Toronto Maple Leafs head coach yesterday afternoon after almost three years in charge of the team.
Tumultuous might be the best word to describe Carlyle's tenure and he leaves the team in a similar state to when he took over as a streaky, borderline playoff qualifier.
Two losses to start 2015 and only a couple of victories in the past nine games proved the final straw for GM Dave Nonis but he should face criticism too for building a roster that doesn't really fit the blueprint for success in today's NHL.
Washington will no doubt be ignoring the sideshow and focused on securing a third win in a row, their steady rise continues and it's just the two defeats in regulation for the Caps since the start of December.
Alex Ovechkin looks particularly sharp right now and a spike in goalscoring perhaps could have been predicted because the Russian's shooting percentage has been significantly down on his career average.
One think to look out for with Washington is the importance of the first goal, amazingly they've picked up just one of their twenty wins when conceding the opener which is particularly surprising because the sides that typically struggle in that area are usually lacking on offence.
Hopefully they start quickly tonight though as I'm backing the Capitals to win this one at around 2.55.
New York Rangers at Anaheim Ducks
Winning 10 of 11 has really helped New York perk up their fan base moving in to 2015 and their strong form is about to be severely tested as they do the rounds of the three strong Californian clubs in Anaheim.
The Ducks' knack of winning one goal games has continued in to 2015 and it seems bizarre to have the league leaders on a paltry +5 goal difference, now their forward group is back to full strength I'm expecting a few more dominant performances from Anaheim.
It seems unlikely they'll make that step against Henrik Lundqvist when the Swede looks close to his best and those in front of him are doing a good job minimising his workload, in fact the Rangers are doing excellent work at both ends of the ice especially 5 on 5.
To that end I think Alain Vigneault has done a good job coaching his defencemen into making smart passes out of the defensive zone as they don't have the ability to bring it out themselves as Cam Fowler or Sami Vatanen might do for the Ducks. I can't quite separate these two so the tie option at 3.85 seems the perfect way to sit on the fence.
Best Bet: Washington Capitals to win at around 2.55