Hockey Night in Canada – NHL Preview Feb 7th

What’s in Store for the Canadian Clubs this weekend?

Vancouver Canucks

canucks logoWith the Canucks barely holding onto a wild card spot, and faltering easily against their west coast foes the San Jose Sharks in a 5-1 loss, their upcoming games are not going to be an easy ride either. Without showing some fight, their 5-5 lukewarm record in the last 10 will not keep them afloat in the race for a playoff spot.

Frustration is bubbling over in the ranks as defenceman Yannick Weber, who’s only 5’11 or even smaller, nearly came to blows with huge 6’4 winger Shawn Matthias during practice at UBC’s Doug Mitchell Arena on Friday. Weber explained after the incident: “I mean, we just got pumped 5-1 at home and nobody is really happy around here…I think it was a good practice. Shawn and I are really good friends and it’s just heat of the moment. It’s a two-on-two battle drill and you don’t want to give up an inch to anybody. So that’s about it.” His dance partner added in, “It’s just two guys battling in practice…It’s a heated drill. You get a couple of sticks in your face and you’re going to get a little pissed off. It’s not a big deal.”

Winning will be a big deal if on saturday they can get that heated up for a battle with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The pens are coming off a nice win and will want to cause some chaos coming into the Canucks house – it should be a real battle. 

We’ll take the Pens to win at 4/5 and the over on 6+ goals

Edmonton Oilers

Oilers logo4-6-0 in their last 10 and rolling into Hogtown coming off a painful loss to Pens, you can’t expect much from the loss weary Oilers. But not much can be said for the Leafs who have had the worst

January in club history since the Forward pass rule was introduced into the NHL in 1929. That’s a long way to go back, and that’s just what it will feel like when both teams chase the puck in a game that should deteriorate to a run-and-gun style both teams are infamous for.

The Pens won, dominated in a 2-0 victory that goalie Viktor Fasth kept from becoming a high scoring debacle. Edmonton winger Matt Hendricks admitted, “We didn’t have a great game tonight,” who obviously wasn’t duped by the score. Fasth was arguably the best Oiler on the ice, but even standing on his head, he couldn’t hold the powerhouse Penguins back forever.

So that’s why we’ll still take the Leafs since it’s a home game, they can score breakout goals fast, and if they have any dignity left they’ll try hard not to be embarrassed by the bottom-dweller of the league.

Leafs over Oilers at 5/8

Calgary Flames

Flames logoCalgary has been the surprise team of the year in the western conference. Sitting in third place in the Pacific division with a winning record of 8-2-0 in the last 10, coming hot off a few wins, the Flames should have their composure and melt the ice in their face-off with the San Jose Sharks.

They beat them last week 3-1, so look for another exciting game between two teams that have a lot to prove. Head coach Bob Hartley has a plan and won’t make it easy for the Sharks to exact revenge. Why? because the Flames believe they are a playoff bound team. “We always had a belief here that we’re a playoff team, and I think that was the goal right from the start,” says player Lance Bouma. “We’ve had a playoff mindset the entire year. Guys know what it’s gonna take to get there and we talk about it every day. Maybe the people on the outside didn’t see us being in the playoffs, but in here we had the belief that we’re a playoff team.”

That being said, sticking to systems, going hard in practice or playing consistently could get them another win, but the game is at the Shark Tank meaning we’ll go for a tie between these two post-season bound beasts, it should be a high scoring match up too.

Calgary and San Jose to tie, Flames win in overtime

Winnipeg Jets

Jets logoWith Evander Kane out for shoulder surgery up to 6-8 months,the chemistry on the team should bein flux as trade rumours abound around their star player. Coach Maurice is not one for any off-ice shenanigans so expect a seriously minded and well oiled Jet’s machine to show up for this game.

They’re coming off a recent overtime loss to their western conference rivals, the Canucks, and now face at home, a floundering yet offensive minded Colorado team who are desperately chasing the final wild card spot behind the Canucks and Jets. Expect an uncertain and slow start, but the Jets should kick into higher gear later in the game. It might not be enough to fight off the Avalanche who are feverishly looking to string together a few wins and get their playoffs hopes back on track.

Avalanche over Jets, and the under at 5 goals

Ottawa Senators

senators logoThe last two losses were tough as they were close games Ottawa had the chance to win. Losing to Washington in a 2-1 final put them behind Philly in their unlikely race for a playoff position.

“It’s frustrating,” said Goalie Robin Lehner. “There’s such a fine line between good teams and average teams in this league and it’s just how consistent can you be on every shift and in every game? We’re not doing it on every shift. Small details are hurting us.”

Those small details were a big deal for Ottawa fans. With that said, the Columbus Blue Jackets are not doing much better in the standings, suffering 3 losses in a row last week – meaning this game should not be a crowd pleaser. But 2 points are 2 points. The reality is it will be same old story for the Senators again. They just can’t score and that will seal their fate.

We’ll take Columbus over Sens at 7/5

Toronto Maple Leafs

Maple-Leaf-LogoThey seem like they are doing everything ‘right’ now, playing solid defence, cutting down chances in their defensive zone, taking more shots and not playing their run-and-gun style of game. But has it paid off? Heck no! They are 0-10-1 in their last 11, they fall behind before they find their footing in the game and then drag their feet til the game expires. Changes are afoot, on Friday Carter Ashton and David Broll were traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2016. This is only the beginning of moves to come which means the Leafs should be tense and under pressure.

15 points out of a playoff spot this game will mean little in terms of the post-season, but it’s a home game and losing against the lowly Oilers would put a nail into their coffins when it comes to their fans. This motivation alone should have them to muster up some vitality or infuse their powerplay with life, to get the moral win over Edmonton. Not to mention break the miserable winless streak they have racked up – they have to win sometime, and it will most likely be at the ACC tonight.

Leafs over Oilers at 9/13

Montreal Canadiens

habs logoThe Devils, though lowly, are coming off a nice win in Toronto with the Montreal’s most touted enemies. But this swagger probably will not last long as they walk into the Forum and face not only one of the best teams in the NHL, but to play them in front of some of the toughest fans in the league.

Only a few points behind the leaders, the Habs have hit a small speed bump when it comes to scoring as Eller and Sekac are struggling offensively. If the Devils, playing the second game in a back-to-back are able to load up on fire-power this could be a tie game and they might avenge their Jan. 2 meeting when the Canadiens beat the Devils 4-1 in New Jersey.

After the Habs face the devils they travel to Boston to face the Bruins on Sunday, as it’s a start of a gruelling run that will see the Canadiens play 23 games in 42 nights. With four more sets of back-to-back games, they only have two two-day break between games left. That could mean the Habs might release the pedal a bit off the gas and ready themselves for tougher challenges ahead. So the Devils might have a small chance to usurp a real Stanley Cup contender tonight.

We’ll go with a longshot of Devils over Habs at 13/10