Andrew Berkshire's picks for Tuesday's action include wins for the Blue Jackets, Maple Leafs and Canadiens.
Buffalo Sabres to beat Carolina Hurricanes 2.70
I fully believe the Hurricanes are going to be the class of the Eastern Conference by the time the regular season comes to a close, but losing Freddie Andersen while the team is really struggling to put the puck in the net is a tough situation. They’re the best team in the league at controlling the puck 5-vs-5, but that’s not enough if you’re only scoring on six per cent of your shots.
The Buffalo Sabres meanwhile, are still climbing their way out of a brutal start to the season. Their underlying numbers are slowly shifting into respectability, and the goals are starting to go in. This one should be close, but I think Buffalo steals one.
Montreal Canadiens to beat Tampa Bay Lightning 2.20
For the third-straight game, the Canadiens are facing a team on the second-half of a back-to-back set, and they’ll be looking to avoid a third-straight loss in that situation. The Lightning look significantly worse than they have in a long, long time to start the season, and that’s without even accounting for missing Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Having blown a 4-1 lead against the Leafs on Monday, the Lightning will surely be playing angry tonight, but the Canadiens are likely in a similar situation after a very sloppy game against a beatable St. Louis Blues team on Saturday. The big challenge for the Canadiens will be to stay out of the box, because Tampa Bay’s offence has been anemic at even strength, but they’re shooting at nearly 20 per cent on the powerplay.
Cole Caufield to score anytime 2.30
Scoring at a point per game so far this season while seeing huge gains in his defensive game, it’s a bit surprising that Caufield has been a little unlucky to start this season. Four goals in 11 games is nothing to write off, but at the rate he’s getting scoring chances and shots on goal, last year his goal total would have been about double.
On a cold streak currently, Caufield has gone four games without lighting the lamp for the Canadiens, but in those games he’s piled on the shots with 20, averaging a whopping five per game. Caufield’s 24.17 shot attempts per 60 minutes at 5-vs-5 ranks sixth in the NHL, and when looking at all situations his 26.43 shot attempts per 60 minutes ranks fifth. He’s doing everything necessary to score.
For years now, the Calgary Flames have put up decent to excellent underlying numbers at even strength. Either the goaltending falls apart, or the shooters can’t score, but one thing is for certain; this team always underperforms. That to me says it’s a bad mix, a good system that doesn’t function all the way. The Predators are a middling team, but they’ve got stronger underlying numbers than Calgary, with more consistent star players, especially in goal.
I want to believe in the Calgary Flames, truly, but they keep punishing me for doing so. With the Predators on the road, the Flames are the favourites in this one, which is exactly why you should go with Roman Josi and the Preds. The Flames won their last outing, but they haven’t looked like a team that’s ready to break out of this slump yet.