NHL players won’t be playing in the 2018 Winter Olympics, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some big-name guys in South Korea. Unrestricted free agent Jarome Iginla, the best player in Calgary Flames history and a sure-fire Hall of Famer, says he might suit up for Team Canada come February. He played 80 games last season split between the Colorado Avalanche and the Los Angeles Kings. Here are two marquee NHL picks & matchups for this week. Check back at MyBookie for the latest NHL odds.
Top NHL Picks of the Week – November 27th Edition
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) November 27, 2017
Chicago Blackhawks at Nashville Predators
When: Tuesday, 8 PM ET (NBC Sports Network)
These two teams met in the first round of last year’s playoffs. The Blackhawks were heavy series favorites, as they should have been after finishing with the most points in the Western Conference. The Predators barely snuck into the postseason as the West’s eighth seed. So what happened? One of the biggest upsets in league history, a 4-0 Predators sweep. The Hawks were the first top seed ever swept by a No. 8. And it wasn’t close as Chicago got overwhelmed by Nashville’s speed over four games that saw the Hawks outscored, 13-3. Nashville would eventually reach the Stanley Cup Finals but lose to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Chicago has been inconsistent this season, entering the week at 11-8-3 following a 4-1 win at Florida on Saturday. Jonathan Toews had a goal and two assists and Corey Crawford made 37 saves in his 400th NHL game. Toews scored only his third goal in 17 games, and one was an empty-netter. Brandon Saad had a goal and an assist, and Patrick Kane and John Hayden also scored for Chicago. Saad scored for just the second time in 16 games.
The Hawks’ first line, comprised of Toews, Saad and Richard Panik, was dominant against Florida as it directed 19 shots on net with zero against in its first six shifts. Crawford has gone 3-0-1 in his last four contests. He has a 10-7-1 record with a 2.16 goals-against-average and a .935 save percentage this season. He might not play here, though as it’s the second of a back-to-back.
Nashville (14-6-3) had a four-game winning streak snapped Sunday in Carolina, 4-3 in a shootout. Viktor Arvidsson, Mattias Ekholm and Craig Smith scored for the Predators. Backup goalie Juuse Saros made 33 saves. The Predators had a chance to win on a power play in overtime, but the Hurricanes blocked four consecutive shots, including two by Joakim Nordstrom, to keep it tied.
It should be Pekka Rinne back in there Tuesday for the Preds. Rinne has been terrific this season and is coming off a 2-0 shutout of St. Louis on Friday which broke the NHL career shutout record by a Finnish-born goalie held by Mikka Kiprusoff. For the season, Rinne sports a 13-3-2 record with a 2.31 goals-against-average and a .927 save percentage.
The Hawks and Predators have split two games this season. They last played Oct. 27 in Chicago, a 2-1 Nashville victory. Rinne made 43 saves and Nashville killed off six power plays. Crawford had 28 stops for Chicago.
Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins
When: Wednesday, 7:30 PM ET (NBC Sports Network)
The Lightning are atop the Atlantic Division and are No. 1 in the East with 34 points entering this week but also have dropped two in a row for the first time all season. They were beaten 5-2 on Saturday at Pittsburgh. Bryan Rust scored a short-handed goal, his third of the season for the Penguins, who have won 12 of their last 13 home games against Tampa Bay. Pittsburgh scored at least four goals in all 12 wins.
Ondrej Palat scored his seventh on the power play and Cory Conacher (he was sent back to the AHL on Sunday) his first of the season for Tampa Bay. The Lightning, off to the best start in franchise history, have just five regulation losses, but three have come in the last four games. Backup Peter Budaj made 29 saves for Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay has scored a power-play goal in 19 of 23 games this season, including eight of the last nine.
The Bruins had a four-game win streak snapped Sunday in a 4-2 home loss to Edmonton. David Pastrnak and David Krejci scored for Boston. Tuukka Rask stopped 32 shots in his first appearance in five games after backup Anton Khudobin had led the Bruins to four straight victories. Boston lost for the first time in six tries with both Krejci and Patrice Bergeron in the lineup.
The B’s are a bit banged up. Winger Peter Cehlarik will be out of action for at least a month with a lower-body injury suffered Friday. He has one goal and one assist in five games. Brad Marchand, one of the club’s best players, has missed the past six with an undisclosed injury. He has 15 points in 14 games and did practice this weekend and thus could return Wednesday. Another excellent forward, David Backes, is out following colon surgery. He won’t be back until likely late next month.
This is the first meeting of the season between the Bruins and Lightning. Boston was 4-1 against Tampa last year.
Expert Predictions & NHL Picks of the Week
Nashville beats the Hawks, while Tampa Bay steals one in Beantown. Be sure to check out the latest betting odds for this week before selecting your NFL picks!