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Avalanche to beat Maple Leafs 

With three straight wins coming out of the break, the Avalanche are absolutely rolling. A 7-1 trouncing of the Jets gave Colorado yet another statement win.

Toronto, meanwhile, has had an inconsistent schedule and comes into Saturday with just two home games since returning from their COVID-19 pause. Both were convincing wins though.

The Leafs are mostly healthy, but Mitchell Marner is now in COVID-19 protocol, leaving Toronto without one of its best offensive contributors. The Avs, however, have most of their players available. This has all the makings of an entertaining matchup.

With how Colorado has been rolling out of the break and with them being on home ice, I like their chances a bit more in this one. Nathan MacKinnon is coming off of a five-point game and no one has figured out how to slow down Colorado’s top line. That could be the difference in this one.

Lightning to beat Bruins 

With 11 goals over their last two games, the Lightning are looking more and more like the juggernaut we’ve grown used to viewing them as.

The Bruins saw their scoring dry up against the Minnesota Wild in a home loss and now have to hit the road to take on one of the league’s deepest teams. They may also have to do it without top defenseman Charlie McAvoy who missed Boston’s last game and is listed as day-to-day.

On top of playing well coming out of the COVID pause, the Lightning also got Nikita Kucherov back into their lineup and cleared a bunch of players out of protocols to get back in. They’re as deep as they’ve been all season now, which puts them in position to really take off.

The Bruins are still a tough out. They’ve defended well and can dominate possession, too. With the Lightning at home and playing as well as they have, it’s hard to pick against them right now.

Hurricanes to beat Panthers

In a battle of the two teams with the best points percentage in the NHL, this might be the most exciting game of the Saturday night slate in terms of competitiveness. It also makes it a little tougher to bet, but this is probably the game I’ll have on my TV and a little action in it never hurt to up the excitement.

These two teams met once before this season, with Florida securing a 5-2 win on home ice. This time, the Hurricanes will be at home and that could be a difference maker. The Panthers are just 4-4-5 on the road so far this season, which is .500 in points percentage, but in our world that’s a .308 win percentage. Carolina is already a tough matchup, but with Florida struggling on the road it makes me lean towards the Canes even more.

On top of that, Carolina has 13 goals over its first two games in the new year. Even though they’ll be on the second half of back-to-back games, I like the momentum they’re riding into this game. Conversely, the Panthers are coming off of an insane 6-5 loss to Dallas that was back-and-forth and even exhausting to watch because of how hard both teams were going for those two points. You wonder if that evens things out on the fatigue factor.

Either way, I like the home team in this one.

Rangers to beat Ducks 

The Ducks are currently dealing with a number of key players in COVID-19 protocol. Goalie John Gibson, captain Ryan Getzlaf and defenseman Hampus Lindholm are just a small selection of players the Ducks could be without against the Rangers at home. The Rangers have two of their best in protocol as well with Artemi Panarin and Igor Shesterkin out of the lineup.

This is a battle of whose depth can win out. I think New York is deeper, but they’re coming off of a tough loss to Vegas where they couldn’t seem to find their offense. The Ducks, meanwhile, have had three full days between games and have the benefit of home ice. I’m not sure that will matter as much with the number of players they have currently unavailable.

Anaheim was supposed to play on Thursday against Detroit, but that game was postponed. Saturday night’s however is still on. This could end up being one of those games where protocols are as tough to contend with as the opposing team. Timing seems to just work out to pick a Rangers win comfortably, even though Ducks backup goalie Anthony Stolarz is entirely capable of filling the void left by John Gibson and has many times this season. I just think the Rangers have more weapons available to them.