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It feels like it’s going in slow motion, but we’re getting ever closer to the NHL’s Trade Deadline on 3 March, which means the league is about to get more exciting again. There’s a sort of dead zone in the schedule between December and March where most of the playoff seeds are essentially decided, but there are still a lot of games to play out. The Trade Deadline is exciting because of the trades themselves of course, but it also puts the spotlight on playoff races, which get much more exciting with around 15 games left to play.

Tampa Bay Lightning to defeat Anaheim Ducks 

The Anaheim Ducks played their hearts out against the Florida Panthers on Monday afternoon, and gave the embattled Panthers a scare by pushing the game to overtime, although they weren’t quite able to close it out.

Against the Lightning on the second-half of a back-to-back, though, that’s an uphill climb if ever there was one. It may not be a big payout, but it’s about as close to a guarantee as you can get in hockey.

Montreal Canadiens (+1.5) vs New Jersey Devils 

The New Jersey Devils are a much better team than the Montreal Canadiens are, and much healthier now that John Marino and Jack Hughes are back in the lineup. However, they’re not nearly as strong at home as they’ve been on the road, just 16-12 on home ice compared to 21-7 on the road.

The severely depleted Montreal Canadiens are in a tough, uphill battle to get anything accomplished in this game, but their goaltending has been strong enough almost all season to hold them in games they don’t deserve to be in, and a bounce-back performance after losing 5-1 to Toronto on Saturday wouldn’t be surprising.

Andrei Svechnikov (Carolina Hurricanes) to score anytime vs St. Louis Blues 

It’s hard to believe after the last few years that he’s had, that we’re staring at an 18-game goalless drought for Andrei Svechnikov. He’s never been a high percentage shooter, more using volume to his advantage in typical Carolina Hurricanes fashion. However 18 games without a goal is a shock.

His cold streak started exactly at the New Year, and in 2023 Svechnikov ranks 39th in the NHL in expected goals at 6.92 based on the shots he’s taken, 20th in shots for with 65, and 23rd in shot attempts for with 114. The players closest to him in expected goals over that time are Nikita Kucherov who has scored eight goals, Kevin Fiala who also has eight, Blake Coleman who has six, and Tim Stutzle who has a whopping 12.

Tonight’s the night Svech breaks the goose egg on 2023 as he faces a weak and struggling Blues team.

Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers) to score anytime vs Philadelphia Flyers 

For most of the season, Connor McDavid has wildly outshot his expected goal totals, making fans dream of a 70-goal season just one year after Auston Matthews scored 60 for the first time in the NHL since Steven Stamkos did it in 2011-12.

Lately, though, he’s been pretty unlucky. Is it regression to the mean hitting the best player in the world, showing no one can outperform expectations by that much forever? Maybe. But this cold streak McDavid is on still includes seven points in five games in February, and 3.1 expected goals with only one to show for it.

I think he’ll add to that against a team that’s way outside the playoff picture.