NHL Saturday Night 1/23/16 Preview & Picks
With a trio of games being postponed due to the snow taking part of the country by storm, we will look at a trio of games that are still on the menu tonight. The Montreal Canadiens vs Toronto Maple Leafs, Anaheim Ducks vs Detroit Red Wings and finally, Colorado Avalanche vs the Dallas Stars.
Montreal Canadiens (23-20-4) at Toronto Maple Leafs (17-20-8) (7 pm)
While the Canadiens have been the NHL’s worst team over the past two months, the Leafs have been at the bottom for the whole season (and many, many years). The Habs need to find their scoring touch badly, and can’t seem to score more than one goal in far too many games. But this age old rivalry has always brought the best out in the Canadiens, often lighting the lamp four or five times against Toronto. Even when they are playing this horribly.
Brendan Gallagher is the type of player who is always in front of the net, and you’d have to be insane to not think the Habs game plan is to fire as much rubber toward the net and hope for the best.
Advice: Brendan Gallagher and PK Subban, who has points in six straight, usually play well against Toronto. Tyler Bozak and Leafs All-Star representative Leo Komarov have been Habs killers in the past.
Anaheim Ducks (20-18-7) at Detroit Red Wings (24-15-8) (7 pm)
East coast teams heading out to the West coast to compete are always at a distinct disadvantage. The travel, the jet-lag, time-change and long haul all have a tremendous effect on the body and mind, which is why a team like the NFLs Seattle Seahawks are so dominate at home, yet very regular on the road. The Ducks though did skip one bullet, as their game last night against the Washington Capitals was postponed due to the aforementioned snowstorm.
They will be fresher than they should have been, and they should be thankful for that. Rather than pulling out the oxygen tanks in the first period, they might get to the third before the effects of the speedy Red Wings kick in. No two teams have such a contrasting style, as the Detroit pace of play may be too much for the bigger, slower Ducks to keep up with.
Advice: Dylan Larkin and Henrik Zetterberg hooked up for a beauty last game and look to keep that momentum going. Ducks defenseman Shea Theodore and Sami Vatanen are good values who can collect a couple of assists.
Colorado Avalanche (25-21-3) at Dallas Stars (30-13-5) (8 pm)
Carl Soderberg has been the Avalanche top scorer since late November, and number one defenseman Erik Johnson will return to the lineup tonight. The consistency of Soderberg and boost Johnson provides will make this matchup a lot closer than it would have been a few weeks ago. Goaltender Semyon Varlamov has been hot of late as well.
Antti Niemi, who is MUCH better at home this season is 12-3-0, with a .923 save percentage and three shutouts on the books will get the start for Dallas. His composure under pressure allow him to thrive in this run-and-gun offense the Stars run, as he never seems to panic, no matter the score or moment.
This wouldn’t be a Stars report without the mention of superstars Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. This duo is matchup-proof, but the sandpaper-like Avalanche will give them all the resistance they can deal with. Colorado is hard in front of the net, but Benn and Seguin won’t shy away. The pair could go off for 10 combined points on any given night but I don’t think it will be today.
Advice: Soderberg is consistent, while Nate MacKinnon may have something to prove to Dallas’ superstars and be worth the gamble for a huge game. The Stars are 10-2 in their last 12 home games, so while they may win, it may be a lower-scoring affair than we’re used to due to Varlamov. Jason Spezza and Patrick Sharp could get the line matches they want and take advantage at a much lower price tag then Benn and Seguin.