Massive 12 game slate in the NHL this Wednesday, the 31st of January. We take a look at some of the key games of the day including the Fox Sports televised Lightning at Jets and give our betting tips below.
Fresh after the All Star weekend, the Tampa Bay Lightning start their second half of the season the road as they try and come up big on Wednesday afternoon against the Winnipeg Jets.
Tampa have won the last three straight on the road defeating Chicago, Nashville and Philadelphia as they improve their road record to 17-7-2. The loss of Hedman had an immediate effect on the team when he went down, but the Lightning have now found other methods to put the puck in the net. Yanni Gourde has now scored in his previous three games and veteran Chris Kunitz has been back to his best with two goals in three games. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy is expected to start once again as he looks to pick up win number 30, he has been as strong ever in the previous three games, allowing only four goals past the pads. Expect Vasilevskiy to be at his best coming off a four day rest.
The Jets are strong as ever at home as they try and improve their home record to 18-3-1. The Jets are one point clear of the Nashville Predators as they still lead the Central Division. The Jets are back home after a two game road trip that saw them rally against the Sharks picking up the OT win and then losing in a shootout to the Anaheim Ducks. The Jets are a solid offensive team ranked second in power play percentage and sixth with shots on goal. The Jets are also ranked third for faceoffs this season, which can make them relentless past that blue line on the offensive end. This could easily be a low scoring affair with All Star Connor Hellebuyck being in the cage for the Jets.
The Vegas Golden Knights are one of greatest success stories of all time in the NHL. But the question is can they now continue this form into the second half of the season or should we say the business half? Vegas have been a little shaky in past ten games with a 5-3-2 record and they had a surprise home lose against the traveling Islanders. The Knights are 11-1-1 against their division rivals and are also 20-7 against Western Conference teams. The Knights have also improved on the road and have won 7 of the past 10.
The Flames are as cold as ice at the moment and have lost the past four straight. I guess one positive to come out of those losses is that they have gained a point from each game, with all games headed into OT or Shootout. Defensively Calgary are on top of their game, in the past ten games they have given up three of fewer goals. Very surprising since they are ranked 29th for penalty minutes giving up 11 minutes per game. Goalie Mike Smith will be in the net hoping to get his 21st win of the season.
The traveling Ducks head to TD Garden to try and upset the red hot Bruins. The Ducks have been hard to pick this season and if you look at their position in the standings you would probably give them no chance in Boston. Reality is that the Ducks have won the previous eight straight over the Bruins, with Boston without a victory over the Ducks since the 2013 season. Anaheim aren't a powerhouse offensive team but they have scored ten goals in their past two victories over the Rangers and the Jets. On the road this season Anaheim are 10-8-6 and are a chance to be without Goalie Josh Gibson for this one as he recovers from a lower body injury suffered just before the All Star break.
Boston have won the previous five games and are making a huge statement in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins are strong at both ends of the ice, defensively they allow the fewest goals in the league and are killing off penalties 83% of the time. Offensively they are ranked fourth in goals and seventh in scoring on the power play. Forward Brad Marchand will miss this game as he is still suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson. But you will see backup goalie Anton Khudobin who is expected to start in this one. He has been great all year and will try and better his 10-2-4 record. I feel that Ducks are ready to make a late run in the second half of this season and it will start in Boston on Wednesday.
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