The Blackhawks and Predators will meet in another big Central Division showdown. (USATSI)
Welcome to the NHL Daily Picks where hockey writers Adam Gretz and Chris Peters make their picks for select games every day.
Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings, 7 p.m. ET
It’s an unusually busy Monday night in the NHL with 12 games on the schedule, many of them very intriguing matchups. At the top of that list is the nationally televised Atlantic Division battle between the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings. Boston is coming off of a blowout loss in Columbus on Saturday night and enters the game in 10th place in the Eastern Conference and is still a little banged up having watched Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron go down with injuries in that game. Both were listed as day-to-day. Boston isn’t in a position where it can afford to lose any more players, especially heading into a game against a Detroit team that is in a battle for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Detroit was a 3-2 overtime winner in Ottawa on Saturday thanks to Gustav Nyquist‘s incredible circus goal in overtime. Pick: Red Wings 4, Bruins 1
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30 p.m. ET
Following an embarrassing 9-2 loss at home to the Nashville Predators in mid-November, it was a big win against the Tampa Bay Lightning that seemed to get the Toronto Maple Leafs’ season back on track. Having lost four out of five games entering Monday night and in the middle of a huge road trip, the Maple Leafs could use another big win against the Lightning. Toronto completes its back-to-back trip through Florida on Monday night in Tampa Bay and looks to get something out of it after losing 6-4 to the Florida Panthers on Sunday, a game in which they lost a two-goal third period lead by giving up four consecutive goals. This is the Maple Leafs in a nutshell. Extremely streaky and volatile. You never know which team is going to show up and what exactly is going to happen. Pick: Lightning 5, Maple Leafs 3
Nashville Predators vs. Chicago Blackhawks, 8:30 p.m. ET
For a team that is 23-9-2 and in a tight race for the top spot in the Central Division, it seems like the Nashville Predators are going relatively unnoticed this season. Make no mistake, they are not a perfect team and could definitely use some help with scoring depth, but they have some high-end offensive talent, a very good defense and an excellent goaltender. They are showing no signs of slowing down at this point and they’re still a pretty hot team, having won 11 of their past 15 entering Monday. And as long as we’re on the subject of hot teams, Chicago has put together an 18-5-1 run since a rather slow (by their standards) 6-5-1 start. On a night full of interesting matchups, they do not get much better than this one. Pick: Blackhawks 4, Predators 3 (shootout)
Los Angeles Kings vs. Calgary Flames, 9 p.m. ET
These teams just met before the start of the holiday break and the Flames used a furious third period rally to stun the Kings with a 4-3 overtime win, snapping what had been a potentially season-crushing eight-game losing streak. The Flames followed that up on Saturday with a rather convincing win over Edmonton to win consecutive games for the first time in nearly a month. They’re back in action Monday for another game with a Kings team that has earned at least a point in four straight, winning three of them. Maybe this is where the Kings start to put things together and begin rounding back into postseason form. Pick: Kings 3, Flames 1
The rest of Monday’s schedule
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Arizona Coyotes, 9 p.m. ET
1. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues: Basically, if the Blues are playing and Tarasenko is in the lineup you should be paying extra special attention to him. He is pretty much a one-man offense at this point with 21 goals in 35 games. Jaden Scwhartz is the only other player on the team with at least 10.
2. James Neal, Nashville Predators: Neal has hit a bit of a dry patch for the Predators with only two goals in his past 16 games, but he still has 50 shots on goal over that stretch. When you combine the quality of his shot with that sort of volume it is only a matter of time until more of them start finding the back of the other team’s net. He already has a hat trick this season against Monday night’s opponent, the Chicago Blackhawks.
3. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals: With two goals in his past four games, Ovechkin has started to pick it up a bit. Even though he did not find the back of the net in their recent win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, he still managed to get 10 shots on goal. He is leading the league in shots (again) and is starting to look like he could be on the verge of a pretty big hot streak.
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.