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Blues to beat Jets

Mired in a six-game losing streak, the Jets are tumbling further out of playoff contention. The Blues, meanwhile, sit fairly comfortably in third in the Central as they’ve been one of the hottest teams in the NHL with a 14-5-2 record since December 1.

A big reason for the Blues’ success has been 26-year-old goalie Ville Husso, who has a .945 save percentage in 14 games this season. He’s been far better than starter Jordan Binnington. So much so that I’d keep a close eye on when the Blues announce their starting goaltender for Saturday’s game because I might stay away from this one if Binnington is in net.

Regardless of which Blues goalie goes, however, they’re surging while the Jets are fading. The Blues also have the advantage of home ice, and St. Louis owns the third-best home record in the league at 17-4-2. The two teams have split the season series to date, but this will be the first time the series turns to St. Louis. I like the Blues on home ice, especially if Husso gets the start.

Oilers to beat Canadiens 

The Oilers have won three straight games and have battled through some especially tight contests. Now they’ll travel to Montreal where they’ll take on the Canadiens who just can’t have anything go right this season. The Habs have won just two games since December with no relief in sight.

The floodgates are starting to open for Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl again as they’ve made major contributions to the Oilers’ recent wins. Mikko Koskinen has had a stretch of good starts in net, too, including an impressive shootout win over the Nashville Predators on home ice Thursday.

With Edmonton playing well again and the Habs continuing to backpedal, this is one of those games where I’d consider a puckline play just for a little extra value since Montreal looks cooked.

Maple Leafs to beat Red Wings 

The Detroit Red Wings earned a hard-fought 3-2 shootout win over the Pittsburgh Penguins Friday night, and their reward was to quickly head back home for a date with the Maple Leafs on two days’ rest.  In the only previous meeting between the teams this season, Toronto earned a 5-4 win on the back of a three-point game from John Tavares.

Toronto has played just nine games since returning from the league’s extended COVID pause around Christmas. They’ve won six of those games including their last two. While most of the league has played a largely compressed schedule, the Leafs won’t feel the burn for a bit longer. They’ve surely been taking advantage of the rest now because it won’t last.

Even though the Wings picked up a confidence-boosting win in Pittsburgh, they had lost their three previous games while giving up four or more goals in the process. That included an 8-5 defeat to the struggling Chicago Blackhawks.

This is the kind of game the Leafs have to take advantage of down the stretch to put themselves in a position to keep pace with the division’s top teams.

Flames to beat Canucks 

This is a tough one to call. Both teams have dealt with some consistency issues of late, with the Flames following up two high-scoring wins with a big loss to St. Louis on Thursday. The Canucks, meanwhile, ended a three-game skid with a big win over the Winnipeg Jets.

No team has played fewer home games this season than the Flames, who have skated on Saddledome ice just 14 times this season. They’ve got a 6-4-4 record, which isn’t terribly great, but harder to judge a team that’s barely been home anyway. In their last home game, however, the Flames trounced the Blues 7-1 and the home game before that they beat the Panthers 5-1. So there’s been some recent success.

The Canucks, meanwhile, are expected to get back starter Thatcher Demko, who is out of COVID-19 protocols. That should provide a boost if he does indeed start. Demko is 3-3-1 in seven career games against Calgary with an .898 save percentage, plus you never know how a goaltender will do with extended time off like Demko just had. He hasn’t played 11 days.

I’ve got just a little more faith in the Flames, who have looked a lot better on home ice the last two times out. This will be the first of four meetings between these two teams and should be a very entertaining game.