Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM

In the Crease - Week 18

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Entering the Second Half
The All-Star break signifies the unofficial second half of the season. Really, we're about three-fifths of the way home, as all teams have played at least 48 of a possible 82 games, with most teams logging 50-51 games, with the Vegas Golden Knights in the clubhouse with 52 completed games already.

As we got into the stretch run of the season, the Florida Panthers actually lead the NHL with 183 goals and 3.7 goals per game, also tops in the league. The Washington Capitals have 181 goals, but they're fifth in the NHL at 3.6 goals per outing. The Toronto Maple Leafs also have 181 goals overall, and they're Top 5 in goals per game (3.6), shots on goal (33.7), power-play success (24.4 percent) and faceoff wins (52.9 percent). However, they're 25th on the penalty kill, 26th in shots against (32.6) and 27th in goals against (3.3). On the other hand, the Detroit Red Wings have managed to light the lamp just 109 times, easily dead-last in the NHL, while ranking worst in goals per game (2.1), shots on goal (28.0) and a 73.2 percent penalty kill rate which is also 31st.

 Looking Ahead

Tuesday, Jan. 28

St. Louis at Calgary: It's a rare light Tuesday night, with just two games on the schedule. However, the Blues and Flames give us a potential Western Conference playoff series preview when they meet at the Scotiabank Saddledome Tuesday. The Blues played on Monday, and they're 6-1 in the past seven when working on no rest. They're also 12-5 in the previous 17 games overall, and 14-6 in the past 20 games against Pacific Division foes. For the Flames, they're 6-2 in their past eight games overall, and 4-0 in the past four against Western Conference teams, so something's gotta give. Looking at the head-to-head trends, the Blues are 4-1 in the previous five meetings, while the under has cashed in 21 of the past 29 meetings in Calgary.

Wednesday, Jan. 29

Toronto at Dallas: Both the Maple Leafs and the Stars are feeling good about themselves after emerging from the All-Star break with victories against fellow contenders. The Leafs posted a 5-2 win at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Monday, while the Stars turned back the Lightning by a 3-2 count in overtime at American Airlines Arena in the Metroplex. That's where this one will be played, too. The Leafs have won six of their past seven encounters on the road, and they're 7-3 in the past 10 following up a win. However, while they're 5-2 in the past seven against winning teams, they're just 2-5 in the past seven overall. The Stars are 14-3 in the past 17 against winning teams, 4-1 in the past five at home and 8-3 in the past 11 overall. The Leafs have dominated this series, however, winning four of the past five in Dallas, and eight of the previous 10 meetings overall. The 'dog is also barking, hitting in seven of the past nine battles in this series.

Vancouver at San Jose: The Canucks also fired out of the chute with an impressive 3-1 win over the Blues on Monday, cashing as slight home underdogs. They just took care of the Sharks on the 18th before the break, winning 4-1 at home as moderate favorites. The under has connected in five in a row for the Canucks, as they're allowing just 1.4 goals per game during the span. The Sharks have struggled offensively, going 27th in the NHL with just 2.6 goals per game while checking in 25th on the power play at 16.5 percent. However, they are No. 1 on the penalty kill at an impressive 87.9 percent. The Sharks doubled up the Ducks 4-2 on Monday in their first game out of the break, snapping a three-game road skid prior to the ASG.

Thursday, Jan. 30

Los Angeles at Arizona: The Coyotes have actually been more impressive this season on the road (14-10-3) than they have been at home (12-10-2), while the cellar-dwelling Kings haven't wowed anyone anywhere. They're a dismal 7-17-4 on the road this season, and their minus-33 goal differential is the second-worst in the Western Conference, and 27th overall in the NHL. The Coyotes won the last meeting in Los Angeles on Nov. 23 behind Antti Raanta by a 3-2 score, and 3-0 over the Kings on Nov. 18 in Arizona, also behind Raanta. Both Jack Campbell and Jonathan Quick have been on the losing end against the 'Yotes, but goal support would be nice.

Friday, Jan. 31

Vegas at Carolina: The Golden Knights battle the Hurricanes at PNC Arena in Raleigh, the first of two meetings between now and Feb. 8. These teams have split their all-time series 2-2, with each team winning one of two on their opponents' ice. Last season the Golden Knights won 3-0 at T-Mobile Arena, but were blasted 5-2 in their only visit to Raleigh. In their inaugural season they belted the Hurricanes by a 5-1 count, but fell 3-2 in a shootout in the first-ever meeting. So who knows what's in store for this one. The Hurricanes have earned points in each of their previous six games at home, going 5-0-1 while outscoring their opponents by a 12-3 in the previous five.

Boston at Winnipeg: The Bruins and Jets square off at MTS Centre in Winnipeg in the second and final meeting of the regular season between these two. They met 5-4 at TD Garden on Jan. 9, as Jaroslav Halak outdueled Laurent Brossoit in a high-scoring affair. That's been the norm at home for the Jets, too, as they have hit the over in six of their past nine games at MTS heading into the second half. And we all know Boston can score, as they rank third on the power play (25.5 percent), while ranking sixth in goals scored per game (3.3). However, they're also second in the NHL with just 2.5 goals allowed and fifth on the kill at 83.1 percent, so defense is strong with the B's, too.

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