Will the Chicago Blackhawks get back starting goaltender Corey Crawford this week? Crawford (lower body) should get back on the ice in the next “few days,” according to coach Joel Quenneville. Crawford missed his second straight game Sunday. Here are two interesting NHL picks & matchups for this week, both on Tuesday and nationally televised. Check back for NHL odds at MyBookie on gameday.
Top NHL Picks & Predictions of the Week – December 4th Edition
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) December 4, 2017
NY Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins
When: Tuesday, 7:30 PM ET (NBC Sports Network)
Pittsburgh is starting to play like the two-time Stanley Cup champion it is, bringing a four-game winning streak into this week. They have scored at least four goals in each of those and won three of them by at least three goals.
Sidney Crosby is really hot too with a six-game point streak (including a five-game goal-scoring streak) with six goals and seven assists. Crosby had struggled prior to his recent outburst, with just one goal and five assists in his previous 14 games. The Penguins are 13-2-2 when scoring first, as opposed to 2-8-1 when their opponent finds twine before they do. Pittsburgh has yet to lose in regulation when leading after 20 minutes, going 9-0-1 this season.
Patric Hornqvist is flourishing on a line with Crosby and is up to 10 goals and 18 points in 25 games. “He’s such a terrific teammate,” coach Mike Sullivan said of Hornqvist. “He’s just all about the Penguins. He just wants to win in the worst way. He wears his emotions on his sleeve. Sometimes that’s good. Sometimes it’s not so good. What we love about him is his care and his passion for the game and his passion for the team. He’s a brave kid. He’ll take a cross check in the front on the power play and take the goalie’s sight lines away so other guys might get an opportunity, and he’s happy to do it.”
What’s even more impressive is that the Pens are winning without No. 1 goalie Matt Murray, who is out with injury. Backup Tristan Jarry has now won his last four starts and has yet to lose in regulation this season. His record is now 4-0-2 with a 1.99 GAA and a .937 save percentage.
The Rangers enter the week having won five of six and will be well rested as they last played Friday and beat Carolina 5-1. In addition, Michael Grabner is tracking to set an NHL record for empty-net goals in a season. With two empty-netters Friday, Grabner now has six for the season. The NHL record for the most empty-net goals in one campaign is nine, set by Pavel Bure in the 1999-2000 season. With 56 games to play, Grabner stands a good chance of obliterating that mark.
Henrik Lundqvist has won each of his last five decisions. He owns a 13-6-2 record with a 2.66 goals-against-average and a .917 save percentage this season. The Penguins beat the Penguins 5-4 in overtime on Oct. 17. Crosby tied the score with less than a minute remaining in regulation, and Evgeni Malkin put in the winner 58 seconds into overtime.
Anaheim Ducks at Vegas Golden Knights
When: Tuesday, 10 PM ET (SNO)
Everyone keeps waiting for the expansion Vegas Golden Knights to fade but they won’t. They are off to one of the best starts ever for an NHL expansion team and they have done it while being decimated by injury in goal.
Projected No. 1 Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion) appears to be getting closer to getting back in the lineup, though. Vegas GM George McPhee said that Fleury “has passed all his tests and barring any setbacks should be able to practice Wednesday.”
Forward William Karlsson has been the biggest surprise on the team. He has already shattered his previous career high goals and is just one point away from matching his career high in that area. Prior to this season he had never scored more than nine goals in a season and never topped 25 points. In his first 25 games this season he is already up to 14 goals and 24 points. He has shooting percentage of 25, a significant spike over his previous career averages.
Anaheim also has been injury-ravaged and is slumping in having lost six of seven. But Ducks general manager Bob Murray said Rickard Rakell could join the team in Vegas as they end their road trip Tuesday against the Golden Knights. Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler are also skating daily and might travel for their next road juncture starting Dec. 14. Kesler hasn’t been in the lineup yet in 2017-18 because of off-season hip surgery. Getzlaf hasn’t played since Oct. 29 and he has been limited to six appearances this year due to injuries.
Vegas beat Anaheim 4-2 on Nov. 22. Jonathan Marchessault had a goal and two assists Wednesday night, rallying Vegas from a two-goal deficit. The Knights outshot Anaheim 49-19, but trailed 2-0 before Marchessault’s power-play goal with 53 seconds left in the second period.
Expert Predictions & NHL Picks of the Week
Penguins keep rolling with a win as does Vegas. So be sure to take these NHL picks into consideration!