NHL Game Day – 2/2/17

There were only three games played in the NHL on Wednesday, but there were definitely offensive explosions in each of the contests with all of the winning (and home) teams putting up five goals on the scoreboard.

In the first game of the night, the Washington Capitals came out victorious with a  5-3 win against a gritty Boston Bruins club. Washington raced out to a 2-0 lead in the first period behind goals by T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom, but a pair of goals by Boston’s Brad Marchand tied the game up at 2-2. Alexander Ovechkin untied the game at the 19:45 mark of the second period when he sent a beautiful wrist shot past Tuuka Rask for his 25th goal of the season. Brett Connolly added his ninth goal of the year, followed by an Evgeny Kuznetsov goal pushed the Capitals’ lead to 5-2. David Krejci scored a garbage time goal for Boston to close out the scoring at 5-3.

The Minnesota Wild dropped just their fourth game of the season by more than one goal, and it was a four-goal defeat to the hands of the Calgary Flames in a 5-1 final. It was a tight game throughout as the Flames only lead 2-1 after two periods, but they finally broke the game loose in the final frame. Sean Monahan and Deryk Engelland scored a pair of goals for Calgary within 1:13 of each other in the third period to push the lead to 4-1. Micheal Ferland added the final tally, to grab a 5-1 lead for the Flames.

The Colorado Avalanche have been dreadful this season, and not much changed in their contest against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. The Kings took a 1-0 lead just 47 seconds into the game, as Marian Gaborik notched his sixth goal of the season. Jeff Carter added his 25th and 26th goals of the season in the first period, as the Kings led 3-0 after just 20 minutes of play. Dustin Brown and Dwight King netted goals of their own in the third period, as the Kings came away with their fourth straight win with a 5-0 final over the Avalanche.

Let’s take a look at the eight games on the dock for February 2, 2017 that myself (@TheBKing4), Matt Layman (@MattJLayman), Madalyn Heimann (MHeimannASU) Richard Duflo (@9Richard19), Aaron Shapiro (@AJShapi1) and Tyler Rubin (@LAsportsTyler) broke down:

Montreal Canadiens (67 pts) @ Philadelphia Flyers (56 pts)

The Philadelphia Flyers will need to be much more assertive offensively on Thursday night if they want to take down the Montreal Canadiens. On Tuesday, the Flyers mustered just 16 shots on goal against the Carolina Hurricanes in a 5-1 loss.

The Canadiens, on the other hand, are coming off of a 5-2 trouncing of the Buffalo Sabres in their first game back from the All-Star break and will look to ride their hot start to the second half. Montreal will get Alex Galchenyuk back from the injured reserve for the contest against the Flyers as well.

Picks:

Brendan: Flyers win 3-1.

Tyler: Montreal ranks 6th in goals against and scoring, while Philly allows the 5th most goals. Canadiens win 4-2.

Richard: Montreal is having another good year and Philly isn’t a bad team, but they aren’t on Montreal’s level this season. Canadiens win 3-1.

Matt: The Canadiens seem to be getting by just fine even without Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher, as the Habs enjoy a comfortable lead in the Atlantic Division heading into Wednesday. The Flyers have a solid power play though, and the Canadiens are slightly below league average on the penalty kill. Still — Philly has given up a heck of a lot of goals this year, so I have the Flyers falling to Montreal in their own building. Canadiens win 4-2.

Madalyn: After getting pummeled by the Carolina Hurricanes earlier this week the Philadelphia Flyers now host the Canadiens in what could be one of the better games of the night. Montreal is one of the best teams in the league and is leading the Atlantic Division with 67 points, and Philadelphia coming off two beat downs the third and final match-up of these two teams will go to the Canadiens. Canadiens win 4-2.

 

New York Rangers (63 pts) @ Buffalo Sabres (49 pts)

The game between the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres can be seen on NBCSN on Thursday night.

The Sabres got off to a rough start in the second half of the season as they lost their first game back 5-2 to the Canadiens. Montreal led the game 5-0 at one point, before the Sabres were able to cash in on a pair of goals in the third period to prevent themselves from being shutout.

The Rangers, similarly, got off to a rough start against the Blue Jackets on Tuesday, as they trailed 6-0 at one point. New York was able to score four goals against Columbus to cut the deficit to 6-4, but were unable to pull off an unfathomable comeback.

Picks:

Brendan: Rangers win 3-1.

Tyler: Buffalo came out of the All-Star break and got blown out by Montreal. I can see the same happening against the Rangers. Rangers win 4-1.

Richard:  The Rangers may be 4th in the Metro division, but it’s an incredibly difficult division, and they’re holding their own at 31-18-1. Unfortunately for Buffalo, they’re having a rough season and I think they’re in for a rough night. Rangers win 5-2.

Matt: New York’s 171 goals scored this year is second-most in the NHL, and the Sabres have been, at best, middle-of-the-road in most statistical categories (including their win-loss record). Buffalo hasn’t won in regulation since Jan. 17, so I think the Rangers’ offense gets the job done in the short trip upstate. Rangers win 5-3.

Madalyn: Both team are coming off losses suffered earlier in the week, disappointing outings for both teams. The Buffalo Sabres seemed to grab momentum prior to the break, but showed none of that on Tuesday night’s loss. The Rangers on the other hand showed a lot of poise as they rallied with 4 unanswered goals after being down 6-0. With New York’s comeback they will enter this game with more confidence. Rangers win 3-2.

 

Ottawa Senators (58 pts) @ Tampa Bay Lightning (50 pts)

The Tampa Bay Lightning have fallen out of serious Stanley Cup contention over the past couple weeks, in large part thanks to an injury to Steven Stamkos. Tampa Bay has fallen all the way down to 14th place in the Eastern Conference standings, but are still just six points out of a wild-card spot in the playoffs.

The Ottawa Senators will look to turn up their defensive intensity against Tampa Bay, after allowing six goals to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday in a 6-5 defeat. Ottawa held a 4-2 lead in that contest, before allowing four consecutive goals that eventually led to their demise.

Picks:

Brendan: Lightning win 3-2 (OT).

Tyler: Ottawa is 6-2-2 in the last 10 games and Tampa Bay is not the same since Steven Stamkos went down. Senators win 5-3.

Richard: Tampa is in decline and has been inconsistent all season. It’s been the opposite for Ottawa and I think they grab the win tonight. Senators win 3-2.

Matt: The Bolts just aren’t the same team that made a serious push for the Stanley Cup the previous two seasons, and they’ve been below average in defense in goaltending in the 2016-17 season. Tampa’s lost 10 of their last 14, and I expect them to fall at home to the second-place Senators. Senators win 4-2.

Madalyn: This may be a game filled with emotions as former Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach Guy Boucher returns to face his former team. For the Ottawa Senators a poor defensive performance against the Panthers is on their minds. The Lightning will try to turn around their season in this game. Lightning win 3-1.

 

Edmonton Oilers (64 pts) @ Nashville Predators (56 pts)

Both the Oilers and the Predators suffered defeats in their first games back from the All-Star break, but the most notable thing from the losses is that Cam Talbot was chased from the game before the end of the second period for the first time all season in the Oilers’ 5-2 loss to the Wild.

Nashville lost 4-2 to Pittsburgh in their first contest back from the break, in which the Penguins netted three goals in a long second period for the Predators. Nashville hits a favorable segment of their schedule as nine of their next 12 games will be played at Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville.

Picks:

Brendan: Oilers win 3-2.

Tyler: This game is a toss-up. I see it as close, low-scoring and tight-checking game. Predators win 2-1.

Richard: Two third place teams square off, but I think Edmonton’s speed is gonna be too much for Nashville tonight. Oilers win 3-2.

Matt: These teams are both in third place in their divisions, both have above-average special teams and both have done quite well over their last few weeks of games. The Oilers have a nice power play, but the long trip to Nashville after a big loss on Tuesday makes me think the Predators will make the best of home ice. Predators win 3-1.

Aaron: The Predators-Oilers matchup is the game to watch tonight. The Oilers are 7-1-1 in their last nine games, and in their last game against the Predators they lost by a goal, so they’re hungry for this rematch. Connor McDavid has been nothing short of brilliant this year, so look for him to tally at least a point. Oilers win 3-2.

Madalyn: Two of the hottest teams heading into the All Star Break now meet after suffering losses on Tuesday Night. The Nashville Predators suffered just its second regulation loss in the past ten games on Tuesday, and now play at home in nine of the next 12 games. The Edmonton Oilers look to spoil the beginning of the Predators home stretch. This will be a close game as both teams have play makers, and can score on the power play. Oilers win 4-3.

 

Winnipeg Jets (52 pts) @ Dallas Stars (52 pts)

Thursday’s contest between the Jets and Stars could be a pivotal game in the long-run as the two teams come into the game tied in Central Division standings with 52 points. The home team has won all three of the previous head-to-head contests between these two teams this season.

Dallas must maintain focus on this game, and not think ahead to Saturday’s contest with the Chicago Blackhawks. The Stars have struggled with their divisional games this season, as they are 8-9-4 against members of the Central Division.

Picks:

Brendan: Stars win 4-2.

Tyler: Both teams aren’t very good defensively so this should be a high-scoring game. Stars win 6-4.

Richard: These two teams are having down years and I think this could really go either way, but I’m going with the Jets tonight. Jets win 4-2.

Matt: I expect this one to be a display of firepower as both teams are below average in defense and above average in scoring. The Jets share the wealth really well in terms of point production, and they just got done beating both Chicago and St. Louis on the road. I do think this game is going to be a back-and-forth contest, but the Jets will come away victorious. Jets win 5-4 (OT).

Madalyn: A big Central Division match-up, as the Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets sit dead even in the standings. This game is important for both teams, but the Jets look to be the hot team going 2-0-0 so far on their three game road trip. American Airlines Center may have an environment of a playoff game, but Winnipeg has the momentum to silence the crowd. Jets win 2-1.

 

Toronto Maple Leafs (55 pts) @ St. Louis Blues (53 pts)

The St. Louis Blues relieved Ken Hitchcock of his duties on Wednesday, after six-plus years as the head coach of the team. Thursday marks the beginning of Mike Yeo’s tenure as the Blues’ head coach, and the team will be looking to impress their new coach.

However, in their way stands the young, but confident bunch in the Toronto Maple Leafs. Toronto will boast the January rookie of the month, Mitch Marner, and teammate Auston Matthews as road blocks to the Blues’ attempt at impression.

Picks:

Brendan: Maple Leafs win 3-0.

Tyler: St. Louis will play hard for new head coach Mike Yeo after Ken Hitchcock was relieved of his duties. Blues win 2-1.

Richard: Just a year ago, these two teams were at opposite ends of the standings. Well, they still are, but this time it’s Toronto higher up. The Leafs are quickly on the rise and I think they have their way with the falling Blues. Maple Leafs win 5-1.

Matt: Toronto’s Mitch Marner just won rookie of the month and St. Louis just fired head coach Ken Hitchcock. Sure, both teams made headlines on Wednesday morning, but what matters is that the Blues get a chance to redeem themselves at home under a new leader and try to fix their goaltending woes. I think the wake up call could facilitate both of those events on Thursday. Blues win 3-2.

Madalyn: Wednesday brought about change for the St. Louis Blues, as Head Coach Ken Hitchcock was fired. Could this be a bounce back game for the Blues? Like St. Louis, the Toronto Maple Leafs are battling for a playoff spot. This will be a hard fought game, but with the recent coaching changes in St. Louis and the team wanting to show they can turn it around. Blues win 5-3.

 

Chicago Blackhawks (65 pts) @ Arizona Coyotes (38 pts)

The Chicago Blackhawks will likely have a home game type of feel in the desert, as a lot of Phoenicians are actually Blackhawks fans. The Hawks will look to rebound from a 3-1 defeat to the Pacific Division leading San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, and playing the Coyotes sounds like the perfect way to turn things around.

The Coyotes have struggled this season, and likely will not find success on Thursday against the Blackhawks. The Coyotes currently have the second-worst record in the NHL (only above the Colorado Avalanche), and will be looking to continue their rebuild through the NHL Draft with another high draft pick this summer.

Picks:

Brendan: Blackhawks win 3-2.

Tyler: The Coyotes put up a good fight against the Kings….however the Blackhawks are not the Kings. Blackhawks win 4-1.

Richard: Another year, another Cup contending season for Chicago. Despite Arizona’s improved play as of late, I don’t think they will be a match for the Blackhawks this time around. Blackhawks win 5-2.

Matt: Arizona has looked a little better lately despite being in last in the Pacific Division, but they still have a lot of holes in their game. The Blackhawks boast lines of versatile two-way weapons that I think will be a bit much for the inexperienced Coyotes. Arizona’s going to take its second straight loss in this one. Blackhawks win 5-3.

Aaron: It is beginning to be the part of the season when the Blackhawks turn up their play for the playoffs. Blackhawks win 3-2.

Madalyn: It is always interesting when the Chicago Blackhawks roll into Gila River Arena. There is still some bad blood lingering from the 2012 playoffs, and the arena is often more like United Center West with many Chicago fans in the Phoenix area. The Blackhawks have lost three straight, while the Coyotes are looking better though losing to the Kings on Tuesday. Even with the continued success and performance on the ice, it won’t be enough to overcome a talented Chicago team. Blackhawks win 3-2.

 

San Jose Sharks (66 pts) @ Vancouver Canucks (52 pts)

The San Jose Sharks go on the road to take on the Canucks following a huge 3-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. It was a 1-1 stalemate late in the third period, but Tomas Hertl scored with under three minutes remaining to take the lead, and Joe Pavelski added an empty net goal to put the Hawks away. San Jose will look to increase their Pacific Division lead.

The Vancouver Canucks will look to Ryan Miller to slow down the Sharks’ offensive arsenal. Bo Horvat will also look to continue his strong play this season after representing the Canucks in the NHL All-Star game last weekend in Los Angeles.

Picks:

Brendan: Sharks win 4-3.

Tyler: This is a very easy game to pick, as Vancouver is not very good at all. Sharks win 3-0.

Richard: San Jose is having a stellar season that has them leading the Pacific. I think they have their way with the sixth place Canucks tonight. Sharks win 4-1.

Matt: Coming off the All-Star break, the Sharks won 3-1 over the Blackhawks on Tuesday. They’re in first place in the Pacific Division with a short trip up north to see Vancouver, who has a -21 goal differential this season and has really struggled on offense. Sharks win 3-1.

Aaron: The leaders in the Pacific division have a tough task going into Vancouver, but overall the Sharks have a much better team than the Canucks. If you need a reason to watch this game, watch for the Canucks’ Bo Horvat. He made a major impression during All-Star weekend. Sharks win 3-0.

Madalyn: Vancouver was suppose to be a rebuilding team, but they are now battling for a playoff spot. They host the San Jose Sharks, who are coming off a big win against the Blackhawks. The Canucks have looked good recently, and playing at home will help their cause. Canucks win 2-1.

 

Pick-em Leaderboard:

  1. Brendan: 3-0 (1.000)
  2. Aaron: 2-1 (.667)
  3. Madalyn: 2-1 (.667)
  4. Matt: 2-1 (.667)
  5. Richard: 2-1 (.667)
  6. Tyler: 0-0 (.000)

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