NHL four-fold: Perfect picks for Thursday’s ice hockey action
The high-scoring Jets and in-form Predators look likely winners on another busy night in the NHL...
Tampa Bay Lightning to beat Ottawa Senators –
For some struggling teams, the NHL All-Star break can be very helpful. The past has shown that it’s possible to turn a season around after some time off.
The Tampa Bay Lightning can definitely do just that. This team was playing in the Eastern Conference Finals just last spring, after all.
If the Bolts improve their scoring numbers on even-strength play, they will start winning more regularly. Tampa Bay has scored just 87 even-strength goals – way below the league average.
On power play the Lightning are fine, with 40 goals a PP percentage of 22.3, which ranks close to the NHL’s top five.
And this matchup against the Ottawa Senators appears to be a good one for the Bolts.
Ottawa are an inconsistent team, evidenced by their poor SAT percentage of 47.92.
That compares negatively to the Lightning’s mark of 50.91 per cent, so if Tampa Bay start improving on even strength, they could still make a serious push for the playoffs.
Nashville Predators to beat Edmonton Oilers –
The Edmonton Oilers – currently fighting for the top spot in the Pacific Division – are one of the strongest teams in the Western Conference.
A glance at the standings would suggest that they should be the better team here, but the Nashville Predators are only eight points behind their upcoming opponents with two games in hand.
And the Predators have been performing very well recently, racking up a record of 7-2-1 from their last 10 games and allowing an average of just 2.10 goals over that period.
Nashville’s defence is really solid right now, partly thanks to the brilliant goaltender tandem of Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros, who have recorded saving percentages of 92 and 94.1 respectively.
The Preds also have superstar defenseman P.K. Subban back in the line-up.
They are looking great heading into this home game and should grab the two points.
Winnipeg Jets to beat Dallas Stars –
The Winnipeg Jets returned to action from the All-Star break with an impressive 5-3 win over the St. Louis Blues.
The Jets have won two out of their last three games and tallied up 14 goals in the process, and their offensive numbers have risen partly due to the presence of rookie star Patrik Laine in the line-up.
Winnipeg’s frightening top-six forward setup of Laine, Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little all have a point per game average of over 0.80.
And their upcoming opponents, the Dallas Stars, have just two players – Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn – who are hitting that mark.
The Jets also have better power play and penalty kill percentages than the Stars, and won two of the three previous meetings between these teams this season.
San Jose Sharks to beat Vancouver Canucks –
At the moment it seems the San Jose Sharks are the only team in the Western Conference that can keep up with the red-hot Minnesota Wild.
The Sharks are currently the leaders of the Pacific Division, and they have a record of 7-1-0 from their last eight games.
San Jose are one of the best defensive teams in the NHL, averaging 2.29 goals and 27 shots against per game. Both of those numbers are the league’s third-best.
The Vancouver Canucks, meanwhile, have scored just 2.30 goals per game and have averaged 27.7 shots per game – the fourth- and third-fewest in the league.
Vancouver will most likely have big problems trying to score against the Sharks, who look likely to earn the win here.