There was some news made at the NHL All-Star Game over the weekend as Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the Boston Bruins will host the 2023 Winter Classic at Fenway Park against a team yet to be announced – if I had to guess, it would be an Original Six matchup vs. the Rangers. Here’s a look at two intriguing matchups this week.
Mike Harrington's NHL power rankings https://t.co/BXXqcEc5ga— The Buffalo News (@TheBuffaloNews) February 5, 2022
New Jersey Devils vs. Ottawa Senators
- When: Monday, February 7th, 2022. 7:30pm ET
- Where: Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, ON
- TV: SN1, RDS, MSG+
- Radio: 104.5 The Team ESPN Radio (Devils) // TSN Radio 1200 (Senators)
- Live Stream: NHL Live
- NHL Betting Odds: Senators -1.5
This is one of two games Monday as the league comes out of its All-Star break with Carolina at Toronto the other. That’s a better game but there’s some pretty big betting news relevant to this one as New Jersey’s two best players, All-Star forward Jack Hughes and defenseman Dougie Hamilton are out.
Hughes didn’t win MVP at the NHL All-Star Game, but he made a strong case for himself, scoring the go-ahead goal to clinch the semifinal for Metropolitan Division in a 6-4 win over the Pacific and then scoring a breakaway goal as part of Metro’s 5-3 win in the Final over the Central Division. The MVP winner ended up being Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux, who had a goal and an assist in the first game and two goals in the second. Alas, Hughes tested positive in his first practice back with the Devils on Sunday. Effective now, the NHL has adjusted its testing rules so that asymptomatic persons who are fully vaccinated will get tested less often.
Despite missing a chunk of the season due to a shoulder injury, Hughes is the team’s second-leading scorer with 27 points (12 goals, 15 assists) in 28 games played. He was the Devils’ lone All-Star. Hamilton isn’t ready to return from a broken jaw because he has not been cleared for contact.
Ottawa’s Connor Brown was on the ice for Sunday’s practice in a regular jersey after being cleared to return from a broken jaw. Brown was sporting a face shield during the session and he is expected to be back in the lineup on Monday. He skated alongside Alex Formenton and Nick Paul during Sunday’s session.
New Jersey enters on a six-game road losing streak. The teams have played once so far, a 3-2 shootout road win for Ottawa on Dec. 6. Josh Norris scored the decisive goal in a shootout for the Sens, although he’s currently hurt. Ottawa’s Tim Stutzle and New Jersey’s Tomas Tatar also scored in the shootout. Drake Batherson and Brady Tkachuk scored for the Senators. Anton Forsberg made 22 saves in regulation and overtime for Ottawa, and stopped Andreas Johnsson in the shootout to secure the win.
NHL Betting Pick: Senators
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Colorado Avalanche
- When: Tuesday, February 1st, 2022. 9:00pm ET
- Where: Ball Arena, Denver, CO
- TV: ALT, BSSUN
- Radio: 970 WFLA AM (Lightning) // Altitude Sports Radio 92.5 FM (Avalanche)
- Live Stream: NHL Live
- NHL Betting Odds: TBA
Why are we skipping ahead to a Thursday game? Because the Avalanche are the betting favorites to win the Stanley Cup and the Lightning are second favorites to win a third straight title so we could see these two again in June.
Tampa Bay lost at home to Colorado 4-3 in a shootout on Oct. 23. Cale Makar scored in the sixth round of the shootout for the win. He beat Andrei Vasilevskiy with a wrist shot after Darcy Kuemper denied Anthony Cirelli to begin the sixth round. Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point tied the game 3-3 with 2:35 remaining in the third period, beating Kuemper with a slap shot from the high slot after the Lightning pulled Andrei Vasilevskiy for a sixth attacker seven seconds earlier.
Bolts defenseman Victor Hedman won the Hardest Shot competition at the NHL All-Star Skills Competition. The 31-year-old posted a blistering 103.2mph shot on his second attempt, beating out Adam Pelech’s 102.3mph slapper. Hedman is in the midst of a Norris Trophy-caliber season with 10 goals and 47 points in 46 games.
Nikita Kucherov is the NHL’s leader in points-per-game. Kucherov missed a significant chunk of the season due to a lower body injury and more recently has been unavailable because he’s been in the COVID-19 protocol but he should be back this year. As a result he’s only played in 11 games this season, but he’s been terrific when he’s been in the lineup, scoring five goals and 17 points. That gives him a 1.55 points-per-game pace, which is ahead of Leon Draisaitl’s 1.50 PPG.
NHL Betting Pick: Avalanche