The best bets for this week in the NHL pit some heady teams against each other. On Thursday, two winning teams to start the week battle it out. One of the teams, New York, is a favorite to win the Eastern Conference while the other is a surprise team from the Western Conference.
On Friday, Boston travels to New York to play the Islanders in a game that will garner plenty of interest from East Coast fans. Saturday brings hockey fans a treat when Tampa Bay battles Chicago in a rematch of last season’s Stanley Cup Finals.
Arizona at NY Rangers
When: Thursday, Oct. 22
The Rangers lost all 3 of their games last week. That’s not a good sign considering that they start out the week battling a very good San Jose Sharks team on Monday.
Will the Rangers have enough to beat an Arizona Coyotes squad that went 1 and 3 in their games last week? Maybe not. Arizona is ranked eighth in the NHL in points per match. The Coyotes are averaging 3.2 goals off of only 28.2 shots.
The Rangers take more shots but make fewer goals per match. Another issue for the Rangers is that they are ranked twenty-sixth so far in power play conversions. That’s not too good.
Boston at NY Islanders
When: Friday, Oct. 23
The Islanders are an awesome 3-1-1 so far this season. New York won all 3 of their games last week. That’s impressive considering that one of the teams that the Islanders beat was San Jose.
It’s early, but Boston doesn’t appear to be good enough to challenge in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins are allowing a ridiculous 4.2 goals per match. Tampa Bay scored 6 against Boston in a 3 to 6 Bruins’ loss. Maybe, Boston is turning it around. The Bruins allowed 2 goals to Colorado in a 6 to 2 win and 3 goals to Arizona in a 5 to 3 win. Both of those games were last week.
But, the Islanders are ranked first in shots on goal and fourth in goals per match. New York figures to beat Boston rather easily in this one.
Pick: New York Islanders
Tampa Bay at Chicago
When: Saturday, Oct. 23
Who has the upper hand in the rematch of this past June’s terrific Stanley Cup Finals? Chicago went 1 and 2 last week. The Blackhawks dropped road games to Philadelphia and Washington. So far this season, Chicago’s defense has been very good. The Blackhawks are ranked in the Top 10 in goals against, shots against, and penalty kills.
But, Chicago isn’t scoring a lot of goals even though they’re shooting a lot. Tampa Bay is 4 and 2 to start the week and appears capable of playing in both a defensive battle, like when they beat Buffalo 2 to 1 last week, or in a shootout like when they beat Boston 6 to 3.
Tampa Bay should be fired up for this rematch on Saturday. Expect the Lightning to produce a terrific offensive game.
Pick: Tampa Bay