Almost all NHL teams are now back in action after the festive break, and the forthcoming week looks to be a very busy one!
Here is our weekly look at the NHL, highlighting the games to watch each day and betting storylines to follow over the next seven days worth of action.
Just one game scheduled for Monday, but it is certainly one you don’t want to miss. Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and the Edmonton Oilers visit New York to take on the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
The Oilers were beaten on Saturday by the Islanders and look to avoid being swept in the city that never sleeps. The Rangers are flying, they won 4-0 at home to Tampa on Sunday, and while back to back games makes this tougher, given the fact that the Oilers have won just two of their last 10, the Rangers will be hoping to continue their strong recent form.
It’s the Rangers for us in this one, to kick off the new week in style.
The Florida Panthers host the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night, hoping to continue their strong return to play. The Cats have won three straight games as they look to beat off local rivals the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division standings.
Following a huge 9-3 victory over the Lightning last Thursday, confidence is sure to be high in the camp and in their three wins since the return to play, Florida have scored 18 goals, so they are certainly exciting to watch.
A quiet Wednesday night in the league and our attention heads to Pittsburgh, with two interesting story line to follow.
First up, the St Louis Blues, who will be playing for the first time since winning the Winter Classic game on New Year’s Day. Their big 6-4 outdoor win over the Minnesota Wild showcased everything that is good about this team. They are tough to play against, have three lines that can score, and on their day, are a team to fear.
Pittsburgh found themselves 6-1 up over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night, cruising to a win until the Sharks found another gear in the third and brought the game back to 6-5. It was the Penguins who eventually won the game 8-5, with both Evan Rodrigues and Bryan Rust scoring hat tricks. Those defensive lapses cannot remain, if this team wants to make the playoffs this season.
On Thursday night we head to the Central Division to see two teams who are expected to be much higher in the standings. Colorado have many games in hand, while Winnipeg have had health struggles, but finally seem to be on the right track. The Avalanche and the Jets take each other on in Colorado on Thursday, in a big Central Division clash.
Both teams have busy schedules, but the Avs in particular have a lot to handle. They play four games per week for the next three weeks including this one, and have a great chance to move towards the top of the standings during this period.
Winnipeg will try to stop them, but the Avalanche are Stanley Cup favourites for a reason, and are usually dominant on home ice. Expect a highly skilled game, with the Avs taking home the two points.
Friday night is your chance to watch the Carolina Hurricanes as they battle with the Calgary Flames. Right now, the Hurricanes are locked in a battle for the Metropolitan Division title, and if you want to know anything about their team spirit, you only need to look back to their result on Saturday night, against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Hurricanes were 4-0 down to the Blue Jackets after 28 minutes of the game but went on to score seven straight goals of their own to run out 7-4 winners of the game. The Hurricanes are showing they have the quality to challenge in the playoffs, and are well worth keeping an eye on over the coming weeks and months.
A whole host of great games to choose from on Saturday but one that should prove to be a great tussle between divisional rivals is the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Boston Bruins. Current back to back Stanley Cup champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning are playing well, even if they are not showing the same level of form we have seen from them over the past two seasons.
Boston know how to win too, but just like the Lightning, they haven’t quite been at their very best recently, though of course, that could all change in the space of a few games. These two can both contend, but at the same time, they need to improve to be really fancied this season, will we see that improvement from them when they meet on Saturday?
The week rounds off with just one game on the Sunday schedule, with the St Louis Blues hosting the Dallas Stars. We’ve already spoken about the Blues, who are tough to beat, while the Stars have struggled for consistency all year, and need to show a lot more of that if they want to make the playoffs.