Can the Rangers snap out of their funk against the powerful Capitals?
Not a good way to start the year as I went 3-4 last week. My record continues to slip, and I really need a big performance to snap out of this funk. My apologies for all you faithful followers as these are dark times, however, the future is bright and I will bounce back! Let's get down to business and #GETTHATMONEY.
Record: 41 – 32
The Capitals continue to roll as they sit atop of the NHL with 63 points. Over their last 10 games the Caps are a near perfect 8-1-1, and Braden Holtby continues to play like a god. The Vezina seems to be his to lose, as Holtby has a sparkling 26-4-2 record with a 1.90 GAA and .933 SV% on the year. The Rangers, on the other hand, have not played well as of late with a 4-5-1 record in their last 10 games. Henrik Lundqvist has been a mere human over the past few weeks. In his last five games the King has allowed 14 goals with a less-than-stellar .885 SV%. As bad as he has played, the Rangers still managed to notch three wins over that five-game span. The Rangers and Capitals have built somewhat of a rivalry over the years and this game will surely be an entertaining one. The Rangers were steamrolled in their last game versus the Capitals, as that game ended 7-3 in favor of the Caps. However, before that loss the Rangers had won four straight versus their rivals. On the injury front the Caps will be without two key defenseman in Brooks Orpik and John Carlson. The Rangers are rather healthy for the most part, although they may be without Chris Kreider. As bad as the Rangers have been as of late, their problems have mostly been on the road as they have one regulation win in their last 10 games away from home. This game could very well become a goaltenders’ battle, and although Holtby has been lights out this season, I think the King is ready to reclaim his throne in this matinee affair. Give me Henrik and the Rangers.
Key Stat: Capitals are 1-4 in the last 5 meetings in New York.
Pick: NY Rangers – Home Team Win – H
As bad as the Flyers have been this season, they still find themselves within striking distance of a playoff spot. The main story for the Flyers this season has been their power play, which surprisingly is ranked 26th in the league clipping at 16.5%. That is a far cry from the 23% they ran at last season which was ranked third best in the league. Consequently, the lack of power play production has had adverse effects on their superstars, as Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek have been mediocre. For example, Voracek has four goals on the season and none of those have come on the man advantage. Last season Jakub finished with 11 power play goals and 81 points. All things considered the Flyers do head into this game riding a two-game win streak. Voracek has amassed 11 points in his last 10 games and seems to be turning a corner. If the Flyers want to make a late season push, their power play is going to need to get hot. I've watched many Flyers games over the years and they strongly depend on their power play. When their power play is clicking, they are a very dangerous team but when it's not, they are bad. The Islanders had a pretty strong start to the season, but they have slipped over the past month. In their last 10 games, the Isles are 4-6 and they head into this game having lost to the Caps 4-1 on Thursday. John Tavares, just as Giroux, has not been having his usual all-star type season with 29 points in 38 games. However, the Islanders have a lot more offensive depth than the Flyers and that depth has kept the Isles afloat in the Eastern Conference. Jaroslav Halak is projected to get the start in this one, and with the long layoff I think the Flyers will get the win here. Give me the Flyers.
Key Stat: Flyers are 4-0 in their last four homes games.
Pick: Philadelphia – Home Team Win – H
How can you bet against the Leafs right now? They are one of the hottest teams in the NHL, and their goaltending has been elite. Jonathan Bernier has allowed only three goals in his last three games while facing a whopping 120 shots over that span. Furthermore, Bernier is coming off an impressive shutout win versus the Ducks in which he made 39 saves. To make matters worse for the Sharks, the Leafs have been outstanding against the Western Conference as they are 11-6-1 on the season. San Jose has not had the greatest season thus far as they currently sit amongst the bottom feeders of the league with a miserable 38 points on the year. The Sharks are also 4-5-1 in their last 10 games and are currently on a two-game losing streak. So what we have here is two teams trending in opposite directions. But I will take the Sharks in this one. Why? Mainly because the Sharks absolutely own the Leafs. But aside from that I really like the Sharks and I think they will make a push in the second half. To be fair the Sharks were without Logan Couture for quite some time and with him back the offense should definitely get going again. With two goals in their last two games the Sharks should be motivated for this one against a team they have a ton of confidence against. Give me the Sharks.
Key Stat: Maple Leafs are 1-10 in the last 11 meetings.
Pick: San Jose – Home Team Win – H
Nashville continues to slip down the standings as Pekka Rinne continues to stink it up. I keep starting Rinne hoping that he will return to his once elite ways. With Seth Jones now out of the picture in Nashville, will Rinne begin to regress even more? That would be very hard considering his current save percentage is .907 SV% on the season (before the Avalanche game). Although the Predators lost a solid defenseman in Jones, they did manage to snag an elite sniper in Ryan Johansen. I think this addition will be huge for the Preds and is just what the doctor ordered. If Pekka can get whatever is going on with him fixed, the Predators could be in for a deep push in the post-season. On the other end of the ice, the Coyotes are making some serious noise. Arizona has managed to creep its way into the playoff picture and pull within one point of the Predators in the Western Conference. The Yotes are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games played, and much of their damage has come through the hands of Mikkel Boedker, who is having a solid season with 31 points in 40 games. Funny what a contract year can do to you…. This should be an exciting game but I have to go with Smashville even on the tail end of a B2B. If Carter Hutton gets the start, then I like the Preds even more. Give me the Predators.
Key Stat: Predators are 6-0 in the last six meetings.
Pick: Nashville – Visitor Team Win – V
The Blues have been pretty blah as of late. You really don't know what to expect from the Blues on any given night and that lack of consistency is alarming for a team that plans to contend for the cup. Jake Allen has come back down to earth as he has allowed 14 goals in his last five games. Additionally, the offense has been quite as the Blues have averaged 1.8 goals per game over their last six. That lack of offense could be a real problem for the Blues when they visit the stingy Kings tonight, who are rolling as of late with a 7-3 record in their last 10 games played. Tyler Toffoli is loving life as he has been playing alongside the ultimate setup man in Anze Kopitar. Over the last eight games Toffoli has recorded seven goals and Kopitar with nine assists. Is there a connection there? Give me the Kings, as the Blues have not looked promising over the past few weeks and the Kings have been superb. Oh, there is also the stat below which does not bode well for the Blues.
Key Stat: Blues are 0-11 in the last 11 meetings in Los Angeles.
Pick: Los Angeles – Home Team Win – H
Follow Jonathan Coretti on Twitter (@HolyPuckHockey)
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