With the NHL regular season going at full speed now in it’s second month, the week of November 17th features some key matchups in both Conferences. While some teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning are looking to surge atop the Eastern Conference, teams like the Maple Leafs are trying not to be stuck in mediocrity.
Leafs vs Lightning Odds and Preview (November 20th)
Thursday nights matchup at the Air Canada Center will feature two teams that are trending in opposite directions as the Lightning (13-5-2) will look to get back into the win column against, well, one of the most pathetic teams in the league. The Maple Leafs (9-8-2) are mired in a three game losing streak and have been blown out by a combined score of 15-4 in their last two losses to Buffalo and Nashville. Hometown boy Steven Stamkos is back in town where he has always found success against his childhood team, and tonight should be no different as Stamkos has already potted 12G so far this season. Bet365 has the moneyline at a juicy (1.83) for the Bolts while the Leafs are paying an even (2.00). It’s hard to not favour the Lightning in this contest considering how porous Toronto’s goaltending has been of late and how atrocious the defense corps has been most of the year. It’s not all bad for Toronto however, as sniper Phil Kessel is tied for 3rd in league scoring (11G 11A) in 22 games.
Penguins vs Islanders Odds and Preview (November 21st)
On Friday night Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins (13-3-1) will play host to the New York Islanders (12-6). This will be a battle of the top two teams in the Metropolitan division as the Pens currently sit three points up on Isles. This game features two of the brightest stars in the NHL facing off against each other as Sidney Crosby leads the league with 26 points while John Tavares is sitting with 18 points in 18 games. Fellow forwards Kyle Okposo and Brock Nelson are both tied with Tavares for the team lead at 18 points apiece. The Penguins are the hottest team in the league right now as they have picked up 18 of a possible 20 points with an impressive 9-1 record in their last ten games. There’s no doubt the Islanders face a tough test trying to pull out a win in Pittsburgh however winning on the road is something New York has excelled at this season with a record of 7-4 away from Nassau Colosseum. When the puck drops on Friday night there is certainly no shortage of skill on either side of the ice, so this game will likely be decided in the crease as two of the hottest goalies in the league will square off. Isles G Jaroslav Halak has settled into his new home quite nicely this year with an (8-4) record and 2.54 GAA. Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is playing unbelievable well this year and is proving his recent contract extension valid with an impressive (11-3) record with a miniscule 1.98 GAA.
Canucks vs Blackhawks Odds and Preview (November 23rd)
On Sunday two of the stronger teams in the Western Conference face off as the Vancouver Canucks play host to the Chicago Blackhawks. Although we’re only about 20 games into the regular season it seems like the Chicago Blackhawks (10-7-1) are still trying to find their groove after an exhausting playoff run this past summer. The Canucks on the other hand are looking like a team that is ready to contend for a Stanley Cup this year after a tumultuous couple of years the previous two seasons. Vancouver is (13-6) and currently sits one point back of Anaheim for the Pacific Division lead. Vancouver has begun to resemble what it looks like to “rebuild”. Bringing Hall of famer Trevor Linden back into the organization has begun paying immediate dividends on the ice. The hiring of a new General Manager and Head coach, has essentially revitalized the front office. The Sedins seem to be rejuvenated (both with 19 pts in 19 games). They also managed to trade disgruntled American C Ryan Kesler to the Ducks and one of the pieces coming back was third leading scorer Nick Bonino. Perhaps the biggest offseason move was bringing in veteran goalie Ryan Miller, who has been nothing short of brilliant this year and is leading all goalies with a 12-3 record. The Blackhawks have been horrible on the road this season with a 3-4 record away from United Center and Vancouver may be just chomping at the bit to keep their good times rolling.