Penguins to beat Canucks
Vancouver has been struggling and it does not get any easier for them. They open a five-game road trip out East with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are coming off of a dominant three-game road swing in Canada. On that brief trip, Pittsburgh outscored opponents 11-1.
Pittsburgh has its deepest lineup of the season available and Tristan Jarry continues to dazzle between the pipes. He has just one goal allowed over his last three starts, picking up his first two shutouts of the season. Jarry is now up to a .930 save percentage.
The Canucks, meanwhile, have lost six of their last seven games and are 3-5-1 on the road with a minus-13 goal differential. The pressure will be on to start the road trip off on the right foot, but Vancouver is really struggling to score consistently and have not been able to defend at an adequate enough level to help goalie Thatcher Demko out.
With the Penguins healthy and at home, I think they’ll run their winning streak to four games.
Capitals to beat Canadiens
With wins in six of their last eight games, the Caps may have ended their four-game road swing with a thud, but they’re still heading in the right direction overall. The Caps posted two shutouts in California before dropping a 5-2 decision to Seattle. Now they have two days of rest and a Canadiens team that is still trying to figure things out.
Montreal picked up an impressive 6-3 win over Nashville, but now hit the road where they’ve been among the league’s worst teams. The Habs are tied with the Seattle Kraken for fewest wins away from home with one. They’re being outscored 32-17.
The Caps, meanwhile, are 5-3-1 on home ice, but have been missing a few players off and on including T.J. Oshie, Conor Sheary and Lars Eller. Despite the potential absence of some key players for Washington, the Caps still have enough depth to take out the low-scoring, struggling Canadiens.
Blue Jackets to beat Jets
The Columbus Blue Jackets have won three of their last four while the Winnipeg Jets have dropped three straight games. On top of that, Winnipeg has struggled away from home with just two wins in eight road contests this season. Columbus has won six of nine at home this season.
It is unclear at the time of writing which Columbus goalie will get the start, but a big reason for the Jackets’ success at home has been the play of goaltender Elvis Merzlikins. The Latvian netminder is 6-1-0 with a .930 save percentage in Nationwide Arena.
The Blue Jackets are outpacing expectations currently thanks to the impressive offensive performances of Oliver Bjorkstrand who leads the team with 18 points in 16 games and Jake Voracek who has 14 assists in 16 contests.
I believe, on paper, the Jets are the better team, but I like the way Columbus has played and am especially confident in Merzlikins at home.
Maple Leafs to beat Kings
With Toronto 11-2-0 in their last 13 games, the Maple Leafs have the attention of the league once again as a potential force to be reckoned with. Now they’ll take on one of the two teams that managed to hand them a loss.
The Kings earned a surprisingly dominant 5-1 win in Toronto on November 8. Phillip Danault had two goals and an assist. Additionally, Jonathan Quick made 33 saves in a vintage performance, outdueling former understudy Jack Campbell.
Since that win, the Kings have struggled to score consistently. Winless in their last four games, the Kings do have the benefit of having two days between games and are in the middle of a seven-game homestand. They might have the rest advantage in this game with Toronto traveling cross-country following their win over the New York Islanders on Sunday.
Still, the Maple Leafs have a lot more depth, plus Campbell’s had very few poor starts like the one he had against his former team two weeks ago. The Maple Leafs netminder owns a .944 save percentage and a 10-4-1 record to date. He’s been one of the league’s best goalies and it’s really hard to beat one of the league’s best twice in a row. I think this one will be tight, but the Leafs are playing too well.
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