Crushing setback last week for the Minnesota Wild as they have lost captain Mikko Koivu for the rest of the season and perhaps some of next with a torn ACL. The Finnish center was sixth on the team with 29 points this season and was averaging 18:18 of ice time per game, third among forwards. He leads the team with a 54.6 face-off percentage. The Wild might find it tough to reach the playoffs now. Here’s a look at two interesting NHL matchups this week. Check back for NHL odds.
Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week – February 11th
Chicago Blackhawks at Boston Bruins
- When: Tuesday, 7 PM ET (NBC Sports Network)
The Bruins look for the season sweep as they beat Chicago 4-2 at the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day at Notre Dame stadium – thus, the Blackhawks won’t get a true home game vs. Boston this season. David Pastrnak had a goal and an assist, and Tuukka Rask made 36 saves in that victory.
Patrice Bergeron, Sean Kuraly and Brad Marchand also scored as Boston won for the second time in three appearances in the NHL’s annual outdoor game on New Year’s Day. The Bruins went 2 for 5 with the man advantage and killed off each of the Blackhawks’ four power plays. Chicago has yet to win in four tries in the Winter Classic. Brendan Perlini and Dominik Kahun scored for the Blackhawks, and Cam Ward made 32 stops in his first outdoor NHL game.
Chicago remains without top goaltender Corey Crawford due to a concussion, although he did join his teammate for practice Saturday morning. However, he only skated for 25 minutes or so and is still a very long way from returning to NHL active duty.
Probably will be Collin Delia in net here. Delia stopped 40 of 43 shots in Thursday’s 4-3 overtime win over the Vancouver Canucks. The 24-year-old has been impressive with three straight wins. He 6-2-3 with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .923 save percentage.
Should be Rask in net for Boston. He saved 25 of 29 shots in a 5-4 overtime win against Los Angeles on Saturday. Rask allowed two goals in each of the second and third periods. He improved his record to 17-8-4 with a 2.36 GAA and a .922 save percentage.
The Bruins reportedly are looking to acquire a forward before the trade deadline. They have been shuffling wingers around to try to find the right two players to skate alongside David Krejci on the team’s second line.
Edmonton Oilers at Pittsburgh Penguins
- When: Wednesday, 8 PM ET (NBC Sports Network)
It’s arguably the best individual matchup in hockey with superstars Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby facing off. McDavid grew up idolizing Crosby.
Edmonton lost 6-5 at home in overtime to Pittsburgh on Oct. 23. Crosby made a slick move through two defenders, skated through the slot and lifted a backhander into the net at 2:12 of overtime for the win. Crosby moved from the left boards, slipped the puck through a defender’s legs, moved past Oilers goalie Cam Talbot and lifted a backhand shot over Talbot’s glove for the win. Crosby also scored the game’s first goal. Jamie Oleksiak and Patric Hornqvist also had two-goal games for the Penguins. Leon Draisaitl and Alex Chiasson each scored twice, while McDavid had the other for the Oilers. Matt Murray had 41 saves in the win, while Talbot kicked out 25 shots in the loss.
The Oilers are not playing well at the moment and come off a 5-2 home loss to San Jose on Saturday. Talbot allowed all five goals on 31 shots. Most of the goals could be attributed to a poor lack of coverage in the defensive zone which would often leave the Sharks forwards open. The 31-year old now owns a 10-15-3 record with a 3.36 GAA and a .893 save percentage.
Pittsburgh also is struggling as it enters the week on a four-game skid following a 5-4 defeat at Tampa Bay on Saturday. Crosby played in his 916th game as a member of the Penguin. He became the longest-serving Penguin as he has played one more game than Mario Lemieux. Crosby has 23 goals and 62 points this season in 52 games. He picked up an assist Saturday, his first point in three games.
Will Pittsburgh has its other star, Evgeni Malkin, for this one? He missed a fifth straight game Saturday with an upper-body injury. He has 14 goals and 41 assists.
Expert NHL Betting Picks
Pens complete sweep of Oilers and so do Bruins of Blackhawks.
Other Top NHL Games
- Calgary Flames vs Tampa Bay Lightning (Tuesday)
- Toronto Maple Leafs vs Vegas Golden Knights (Thursday)
- New York Rangers vs Buffalo Sabres (Friday)
- Nashville Predators vs Vegas Golden Knights (Saturday)
- St. Louis Blues vs Minnesota Wild (Sunday)