One of the most disappointing teams in the NHL this season has been the San Jose Sharks. They were supposed to be Stanley Cup contenders but are near the bottom of the Western Conference. Things got worse late last week when forward Tomas Hertl suffered a season-ending torn ACL and MCL that likely will keep him out the start of 2020-21 as well. The 26-year-old Hertl has 16 goals and 36 points this season, good for second on the team. Here’s a look at two intriguing NHL matchups early this week. Check back for NHL betting odds.
Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week – February 3rd Edition
Chicago at Minnesota
- When: Tuesday, 8 PM ET (NBC Sports Network)
Two teams that are somewhat caught in the middle as the NHL trade deadline approaches. Neither would be in the playoffs as things stand but neither is that far out of a wild-card spot, either. Do they add a player for a postseason push or become sellers and start thinking to next season and beyond? The Wild could get a fair amount for winger Jason Zucker, for example. Plenty of teams are inquiring about versatile Chicago forward Brandon Saad, but the Blackhawks would move him only if the return were excellent.
Somehow, this is only the second meeting of the season between division rivals. On Dec. 15, the Wild lost 5-3 in Chicago. Hawks star Patrick Kane, having another stellar season, had a hat trick. Saad and David Kampf also scored for Chicago. Jonathan Toews had three assists, and Robin Lehner made 23 stops. Kevin Fiala scored twice for Minnesota. Eric Staal also scored for his 1,000th career point, and Ryan Suter had three assists. Top Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk was out injured.
Kane recently scored the 1,000th point of his career and has at least one point in 12 straight games following a pair of assists in Saturday’s 3-2 shootout win in Arizona. He has rolled up five goals and 13 assists with a plus-8 rating across his current 12-game point streak. Saad scored twice in regulation and the Blackhawks won their first game out of the break and sixth of their last seven.
The Wild were crushed 6-1 at home by Boston on Saturday. Dubnyk allowed six goals on 34 shots. Dubnyk slipped to 9-13-2 with a 3.40 goals-against average and .890 save percentage across his 25 appearances. He was an All-Star last season, but he has been awful this season.
The Wild have the worst penalty kill in the NHL over the last two months, with a 65.3% denial rate since Dec. 1, allowing goals on 26 of 75 short-handed situations.
Toronto at NY Rangers
- When: Wednesday, 7:30 PM ET (RSN)
Original Six matchup. The Leafs are battling for playoff positioning, while the Rangers are better than only the New Jersey Devils in the Metropolitan Division. Henrik Lundqvist’s gradual decline combined with the emergence of young backup Alexandar Georgiev and the call-up of talented prospect Igor Shesterkin has left the Rangers with some decisions to make in the coming weeks. One of the best, if not the best, NHL goalies of the past 15 years, Lundqvist’s role has been hugely reduced. At his current pace, he could end up with fewer than 40 starts for the first time in his career.
It is thought that the Rangers will trade top winger Chris Kreider before the trade deadline. Kreider can become an unrestricted free agent this summer and the Rangers could lose him for nothing
Expect Toronto to make a trade on defense before the deadline as the blue line remains the weakest aspect of the team and some upgrade needs to happen before the postseason. If the Leafs are going to seriously contend for a Cup, blue-line tweaks are a must.
This is the last meeting of the season between the teams and they have split two. They most recently played Dec. 28 in Toronto and the Rangers were 5-4 OT upset winners. Tony DeAngelo scored 51 seconds into overtime. Ryan Strome had two goal and two assists for the Rangers. It was Strome’s fifth and sixth goals to go along with six assists in 18 career games against Toronto.
Artemi Panarin picked up his third assist of the game when he set up DeAngelo’s winner in the first minute of the extra period. Brett Howden and Mika Zibanejad also scored for New York. Georgiev stopped 44 shots. Toronto entered the final 20 minutes down 4-2 but pulled even when Auston Matthews scored off a pass from William Nylander, netting the tying goal with 53 seconds remaining in the third.
Expert NHL Betting Picks
Take both road teams.