In the Crease – Week 27Editor'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 Winnipeg Jets are hurtling toward the playoffs and look like they're going to make a deep run, too. They're 9-1 over their past 10 games, and they have rattled off victories in three straight road games, too. They have experienced some magic in close games, too, going 5-0 in their past five outings decided in overtime or a shootout. The 'over' has hit in five of the past six as well, thanks mostly due to their high-octane offense. Winnipeg is averaging 4.1 goals per game across the past 10 outings and they haven't lost consecutive games in regulation since Feb. 9-11. Once the playoffs starts, watch out for the Jets overhead.
Fifty Mission Cap
The Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vegas Golden Knights and Winnipeg Jets have each hit the 50-victory plateau this season, and it's possible the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals will join them in the club before the end of the regular season. It's a mark the Tragically Hip would be very proud to see. Yeah, that's two Canadian rock band references in two paragraphs. Hey, it's the last column of the season. Thanks for reading this year, by the way!
Wednesday, April 4
It's the calm before the storm with just three games on tap on Hump Day. The Minnesota Wild and Anaheim Ducks will do battle at Honda Center in a potential playoff preview. If the recent past is any indication it will be a low-scoring battle in SoCal. The under is 4-0-1 in the past five meetings in Anaheim, and 7-1-1 in the past nine meetings overall in this series. While the road team is 4-1 in the past five in this series, the Wild have won just five of the past 18 battles between the two. For what it's worth, both teams have been hot on Wednesday - as the Wild are 4-1 in their past five Hump Day battles, and the Ducks are 16-5 in their past 21 Wednesday tilts.
Thursday, April 5
The Bruins are in the playoffs. The Panthers hope to be there, too. If Florida is going to have a chance to battle for Lord Stanley's Cup they're going to have to be a lot better than they were. The Cats were waffled 5-1 in Beantown on March 31 in just the second meeting between these clubs. They'll meet on Thursday, and again on Sunday in the regular-season finale. The Panthers kept hope alive with a pair of home wins against non-contender Carolina, and Stanley Cup hopeful Nashville, over their past two home outings. They blanked Boston 3-0 in the first meeting in Sunrise on March 15, and Florida is hoping lightning strikes twice. Actually, the Panthers hate the Lightning.
The Colorado Avalanche are fighting to get into the Western Conference playoffs. The San Jose Sharks are there, but they certainly aren't playing like a contender. The Sharks have dropped four in a row, including an awful collapse in the third period against the non-playoff-bound Stars in Tuesday's game. San Jose has some major issues defensively, and they will be meeting a desperate Avs club playing with it all on the line. If the first two battles this season are any indication, Colorado will keep San Jose's losing streak going. The Sharks lost 5-3 in Denver in the first meeting on Jan. 18, and 3-1 in the second meeting on Feb. 6.
Friday, April 6
The Sabres and Lightning will do battle on Friday night, and Tampa Bay hopes that the result isn't the same as the most recent matchup on Feb. 28. The Sabres won it 2-1 in overtime, stunning Andrei Vasilevskiy and chalk eaters (-300) in the process. Buffalo has been doing that a lot lately, posting a win at Nashville on March 31 (+265), at Toronto on March 26 (+275) and that game against Tampa. Since Feb. 10 the Sabres are a respectable 10-13-2 over their past 25 outings. While that's not a great record, they are paying +539 during the span.
Saturday, April 7
The Devils and Capitals are both heading to the playoffs in the Eastern Conference and they could hook up again at some point for much higher stakes. As it stands, they'll close out the regular season against each other. Washington won the first two battles in this series by a 5-2 score while losing the most recent meeting in Newark by a 4-3 score in overtime on Jan. 18. The 'over' has cashed in five of the past six meetings in this series.
In late-night action, at least in late-night action if you're an East Coast player, the Wild and Sharks will do battle on Saturday night in the Bay Area. The first two meetings in this series have been decided in overtime, with the Wild posting wins in each of the matchups. the most recent meeting in St. Paul resulted in a 3-2 Minnesota win on Feb. 25, and the first meeting in San Jose was a 4-3 win by the Wild as backup goaltender Alex Stalock picked up the win. The past three meetings in San Jose have resulted in 'over' results, with the under last cashing on Dec. 12, 2015 at SAP Center.