In the Crease – Week 18Editor's Note: Don't miss out on 30 days of Winning Hockey Picks from Joe Williams for the 2017-18 NHL regular season. Click to win!
The Los Angeles Kings picked up a 3-0 shutout win at Dallas coming out of the break. It was a rare showing of offense, as they're still averaging just 2.0 goals per game over their past eight outings. As a result the 'under' has connected in five of their past seven outings. Things do not figure to get any easier with a trip to Nashville on Thursday against All-Star goaltender Pekka Rinne and the Predators. Nashville ranks third in the Western Conference in goal differential at plus-21, tied with the Kings in the category. The Preds are 16-5-3 at home this season, while the Kings are 15-9-2 in 26 road contests.
Plenty of Bark
The Arizona Coyotes have struggled this season with 118 goals, second-lowest mark in the NHL and worst in the Western Conference. Lately they have been very pesky and a tough out, going 3-2-1-3 across their past nine outings. Six of their past nine have either went to overtime or a shootout, with two OT wins, an OT loss and three losses in the shootout. With the exception of a 4-2 loss on Jan. 12 at home against the Oilers, all of their losses have been by one loss and they're just -153 across the nine-game span.
Wednesday, January 31
The Flyers roll into D.C. with former Capitals backstop Michal Neuvirth looking to drop his former employer. The Flyers have been hot lately, winning seven of their past eight against teams with a winning overall record, and eight of their past 10 games overall. The Capitals haven't been too shabby either, posting a 41-15 record over their past 56 outings at Verizon Center, while posting an impressive 49-24 record in their past 73 against the Eastern Conference. However, they could be rusty after the All-Star break, and they're not terribly impresive after rest. The Caps are just 5-12 in their past 17 when working on three or more days of rest. Philly is 2-5 in their past seven in D.C., while the under is 5-1-3 in the past nine meetings in this series, and 4-0-3 in the past seven meetings in D.C.
Thursday, February 1
The Panthers drop in on the Sabres in western New York, looking for their second win in as many meetings with Buffalo this season. The Panthers won 4-1 back in Buffalo back on Nov. 10 in a game which cashed the 'under'. The under has also hit in four stragiht for the Sabres, but that's mostly been the result of much better goaltending of late. Buffalo has yielded just 1.0 goals per game over the past four outings. These teams met four times last season, with the home team winning all four outings. The Panthers have won four of their past six trips to Buffalo.
The Oilers will host the Avalanche in the first meeting of the season between the Western Conference clubs. The Oilers have struggled this season, but they're starting to put it together lately. Edmonton has won four of their past five games, averaging 3.2 goals per game during the span. Goaltending has been their problem all season, allowing two or more goals in each of their past eight outings. Colorado won nine straight from Dec. 29 to Jan. 22, kicking off a win streak against Toronto at home, and winning at Toronto last Monday. However, they have dropped three in a row, including an overtime setback in Vancouver on Tuesday, 4-3. Edmonton swept the three-game season series in 2016-17, outscoring Colorado 17-8. The season before, it was Colorado sweeping the three-game series by an 11-5 margin.
Friday, February 2
The Golden Knights have been impressive this season. They already have the record for wins by a first-year NHL expansion team, and it's just February. That's how special their season has been. However, the Minnesota Wild aren't impressed. They won 4-2 in the first meeting in St. Paul back on Nov. 30 behind Devan Dubnyk in a game which hit the 'over'. The over has been a rare happening in St. Paul lately, as the 'under' has cashed in four of Minnesota's past five games at home. Vegas picked up a win on Tuesday in Calgary, 4-2, and the 'over' has hit in each of their past three outings on the road while going 4-1 in their past five overall.
Saturday, February 3
The Red Wings and Panthers will square off in Sunrise on Friday evening in the fourth and final regular season meeting. The first two games couldn't be decided in regulation, as Detroit won 3-2 in a shootout in the first meeting in South Florida back on Oct. 28, and the Panthers returned to the favor in their first-ever trip to Little Caesars Arena on Dec. 11, winning 2-1 in overtime. The Red Wings exacted revenge, 4-2, in the second home meeting against the Cats on Jan. 5.
The Flames head into Wednesday with five straight losses, although just one has come in regulation. That was 4-2 setback against the Golden Knights on Tuesday, a game which featured three late scores to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. These teams have met just once this season, and in typical Calgary fashion regulation could not decide the winner. Mark Giordano struck 52 seconds into overtime to send the home crowd home happy back on New Year's Eve, 4-3. The Blackhawks find themselves in uncharted territory, sitting in the basement of the Central Division. If you're a glass half-full kind of person, they are just 13 points out of first place and just five points back of the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference playoff race. In other words, things aren't as bad as they appear.