Sunday Night Hockey – Breaking Down Every Game on Sunday February 12th
You can breathe now.
After a huge Saturday night the NHL returns with a manageable Sunday with six games on tap to ease you out of the massive slate of games the night before. There’s still plenty of opportunities to earn some money and more time to get your research in.
Teams are starting to decide if their buyers or sellers with the trade deadline approaching and that means we could see some pretty wonky results down the stretch. Just make sure you’re checking up on everyone’s status before the game starts to make sure no one’s being held out of the lineup for sketchy reasons
With that in mind, let’s get to it!
- Boston (-145) at Montreal (+115)
An age-old rivalry is our feature game of the night with both teams sitting in the same division and trying desperately to find some consistency. For Boston that search included firing their head coach Claude Julien this week and now they end on Sunday against the Canadiens who have struggled as of late.
Montreal is just 4-4-2 in their last ten games and while they’re coming off a win it was against the lowly Arizona Coyotes and by just one goal. Now they need to take on the Bruins a day after playing the Blues with that decision still up in the air at the time of this writing.
Boston, on the other hand, has won two straight and seem to have finally found the energy and intensity required to make it as a playoff team in this league. They’re still eight points behind Montreal for first place in the Atlantic division but they are now 5-4-1 in their last ten games and seem to be rounding into the team we expect to be by this point in the season.
Montreal enters the game with the league’s eighth ranked offense, averaging 2.91 goals a game. They arrive at that number despite firing just the 19th most shots on net at 29.57 a game. Their power play has been phenomenal, and really the backbone of this team’s scoring. Montreal succeeds at a 22.29 percent rate with the extra man on the ice, a mark that’s good enough for 5th in the NHL.
Their five-goal outburst against the Coyotes was encouraging considering they had been shut out the two games previous. Max Pacioretty continues to be the engine on this team with 48 points in 56 games this season and erupted for two goals and two assists in his game against the Coyotes.
Alex Galchenyuk was one of the hottest players in the league before he went down with injury, and his 29 points in 35 games is still an excellent average, but Montreal is going to need more from him now that he’s back in the lineup. In his last five games he’s registered just two points including only one goal.
In Boston the offense has been on fire in their last two games, averaging five goals a night and carrying the team to a win both times. That’s a good sign for the Bruins who still rank just 18th in goals per game at 2.68. They do, however, lead the league in shots per game with a whopping 34.40 shots finding the net each night out. Those shots should translate into more goals and have started to as of late especially without Claude Julien behind the bench.
Brad Marchand has led this team all season long and has shown no signs of slowing down. He has an incredible 57 points in 57 games this year after many people thought his showing in the World Cup of Hockey for Team Canada was just a fluke. He was held off the scoresheet against Vancouver in his last game out but had eight points in four games before that contest and will be itching to get back on offense against the Canadiens.
David Backes is a player that could stand to pick it up for Boston. After the Bruins signed him to a huge deal in the offseason he’s responded with just 25 points in 49 games and a -11 rating on the season. At the age of 32 his veteran presence is appreciated in the locker room but that doesn’t translate into scoring. He showed flashes of what he’s capable of with a goal and two assists against the Sharks just two games ago, but the Bruins will need more of that if they hope to contend deep into the Spring.
Montreal has been struggling for their standards as of late but still own the 7th best defense in the NHL, allowing just 2.54 goals a game. Their penalty kill has been dismal as of late though and the Canadiens now find themselves with the 22nd ranked unit. Montreal will need to improve that mark especially against a team that plays so physical like the Bruins.
Shea Weber continues to be a gift for the Canadiens after they traded away P.K. Subban and leads the team in plus/minus rating while often playing the most minutes out of anyone on the ice. He’s also their most valuable weapon on their potent power play with 18 points to lead the team on the season.
Andre Markov has looked good as well since returning from injury and the two make a lethal veteran pair that no team wants to come across. Markov has a +9 rating on the season and isn’t afraid to take anyone on in his own end.
In Boston, the defense has been good enough for them to win some games, but not great. The Bruins have the 13th ranked defense in the NHL, allowing 2.72 goals a game but do have the second best penalty kill and allow the second fewest shots on net.
Led by Zdeno Chara along the blue line, it’s actually the forwards who have made the biggest difference in Boston this season. David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron lead the team in plus/minus rating and are constantly keeping in mind that they need to back check to help out their defensemen.
That sort of attitude is the type that carries deep into the playoffs when everyone is on the same page.
Carey Price continues to struggle, at least by his standards. He allowed four goals on 25 shots against the Coyotes and had to play the Blues the night before this game. He’ll bounce back eventually but we wouldn’t bet on him being the stonewall every night that we’re so accustomed to seeing.
Tuukka Rask is 26-13-4 on the season with a 2.32 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. That save percentage should be higher for a goalie of his caliber, especially on a team that lets so few shots hit the net. If he ever finds his extra gear the rest of the league could be in trouble.
Alex Galchenyuk against David Backes. Both these players have been under achieving as of late and in a game that means so much it’s these types of skaters that can lift their team to a win. We expect one of them to do enough to get it done.
Montreal will be tired after playing St. Louis and now have to go on the road in Boston. Take the Bruins (who seem to be rolling) on the spread and hope Backes wakes out of his slumber
- San Jose (-130) at New Jersey (EVEN)
Hmmm, the Sharks have had two back to bak rare losses against weaker teams and now face another weak team in the Devils on Sunday. San Jose is still 5-2-3 in their last ten games but an overtime loss to Philly the day before you have to play New Jersey is never a good sign.
San Jose has lost four straight now and their normally tight defense has been a huge problem. The Sharks have given up 16 goals over their last four games which isn’t like them at all, and while their offense has still been decent, it’s not enough to overcome the lack of defense.
Martin Jones was having issues in net during that stretch which paved the way for Aaron Dell to take the pipes against the Flyers. He responded with 33 saves on 35 shots including all eight when he was up against the extra man. His record is still just 6-4 but he owns a .930 save percentage and may get to play against the Devils on Sunday.
If that’s the case New Jersey better be ready. The Devils have looked good recently with two straight wins and are now 6-3-1 in their last ten games. They still have the worst goal differential in the Eastern Conference at -26 but are only five points out of a playoff spot and playing some inspired hockey.
Taylor Hall continues to be the only real offensive threat with 35 points this season and has looked good with four in his last five games. After being held off the scoresheet against the Sabres he’ll be itching for a shot at the net when the Sharks visit.
Brent Burns against Kyle Quincey. With just 12 points on the year Quincey is the definition of a stay at home defenseman. Brent Burns on the other hand, is not. He has 57 points in 56 games and is the best offensive weapon on the Sharks despite being a defenseman. The two will go head to head on Sunday.
The Sharks are getting great odds thanks to their recent woes and playing on the second night of a back to back but we think they break their four game losing streak against the Devils. Take San Jose on the spread.
- Detroit (+215) at Minnesota (-265)
The Wings and Wild clash on Sunday afternoon having very different seasons. Detroit is just 22-22-10 on the year and currently renting out the basement apartment in the Eastern Conference. Minnesota, on the other hand, is an incredible 36-12-6 this season and renting out the penthouse in the Western Conference.
They just came off a big overtime win over the Lightning to keep their five point lead over the Blackhawks in the division and the rest of the Conference and continue to be one of the most balanced teams in all of hockey. They’re 7-2-1 in their last ten games and rank 4th in goals for per game at 3.35 and 2nd in goals against at just 2.33 a game.
They have the best goalie in the NHL this season in Devan Dubnyk and he’s expected to get the start again against the Wings. He stopped 26 of 27 shots against the Lightning in his last game and allowed him to become the first goalie to 30 wins this season. He’s won seven of eight and owns a 1.96 goals against average and a .934 save percentage. He’s good.
The Wings on the other hand, aren’t so good. Detroit continues to lack any offense, averaging just 2.54 goals a game. Henrik Zetterberg continues to lead the team in points, and that’s simply unacceptable at this point in his career. He’s still one of the best two way players in the game, and cake take over on any night but someone else should help him step up and take some of the responsibility.
Dylan Larkin against Charlie Coyle. Can someone get Larkin going? He has just 19 points in 52 games and just one assists over his last five. As a projected first line center he needs to improve his game in a hurry if Detroit wants to improve. At only 20 years old it may be too much to ask of the kid, but he has this responsibility now whether he likes it or not. Coyle is a dangerous customer with 42 points in 54 games this year and has four in his last five. Larkin will have to keep an eye on him as well.
The Wings need this win badly, but sadly won’t get it. Minnesota is so dominant at home and the Wings just don’t have the offense to get it done. Take the Wild on the spread.
- Dallas (+105) at Nashville (-125)
The good news for the Stars is that they finally won a game when their offense erupted for five goals against Carolina in a 5-2 win. The bad news for Dallas is that they’re still six points out of a playoff spot and now have to travel to Nashville to battle the Predators at home.
The Preds did just get wiped away by the Panthers 7-4 but are an excellent 15-7-6 at home this season. They have P.K. Subban and Roman Josi healthy and back in the lineup together and it has improved their defense, but not against Florida. The Panthers somehow scored seven goals on the Preds and knocked Nashville down a peg.
Pekka Rinne was brutal in his start against the Panthers after being excellent all season long, and sometimes it’s just one of those nights. If he gets the day off on Sunday we wouldn’t be surprised which means Juuse Saros will be in net. Saros has a 5-4-2 record but an excellent 2.00 goals against average and a .934 save percentage.
Dallas will try and jump out of the gate early again like they did against Carolina. The Stars scored five goals and all they need to do is a find a way to generate that offense consistently. If Dallas can get some decent goaltending from Kari Lehtonen and Antii Niemi they’ll be a much better team going forward.
Tyler Seguin against Ryan Johansen. Johansen leads the Predators with 40 points this season but has been quiet lately with just one goal over his last five games. He still has three assists during that span, but now he’ll be up against the firepower of Seguin. He’s been cold lately with just two points over his last five but his 51 points this season overall suggest he’s ready for a breakout.
Teams rarely beat Nashville on the road, but Dallas has an extra jump to their step and are getting great odds on the road. Take the Stars on the spread and hope they at least make it a one goal game.
There’s little left to say about the Avalanche. They’re not just the worst team this season, they’re slowly becoming one of the worst teams we’ve ever seen. Colorado is just 15-34-2 this season and 2-7-1 in their last ten games. They’re a shocking -68 in goal differential on the year and to make matters worse for them this will be their second game in as many nights.
On Saturday they’ll play the streaking, high-scoring Rangers and while the Islanders aren’t exactly far away it’s never fun to play two games in two nights especially on the road. The Islanders will welcome the Avalanche with open arms.
New York is 6-2-2- in their last ten games and coming off a tough 3-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators. Their offense has been humming of late so the zero goals is a rare feat for the Islanders. Brock Nelson and John Tavares have been on fire under their new intern head coach Doug Weight and we expect them to light it up again against the Avalanche.
Anders Lee against Gabriel Landeskog. Landeskog was supposed to turn into one of the best players in hockey this year but has just 21 points in 41 games and a brutal -14 rating on the season. He’s recorded four points in his last three games however and may be ready to turn the page. He’ll be up against Anders Lee who is an excellent goal scorer for New York with 19 on the year and has two in his last five games. When he scores, the Islanders just seem to win.
Take New York at home on the spread. Colorado just doesn’t have the skill or depth to keep up with the Islanders in their second game in as many nights.
- Vancouver (+120) at Buffalo (-150)
The Canucks and Sabres are in similar positions. Both have the skill to make the playoffs, but both are still five or six points out of making any noise. Buffalo is coming off a big game against the Leafs the night before while the Canucks lost 4-3 in their last game against the Bruins.
Vancouver still sits near the top of the pack of teams trying to make the playoffs out West, but the window of opportunity is closing. The Canucks are still finding it impossible to score goals on a consistent basis and that needs to change in a hurry. Bo Horvat continues to be the Canucks’ brightest star with 36 points on the year despite being just 21 years old. He scored a goal and grabbed an assist in his last meeting and will be trying to carry his team to a win against the Sabres.
Buffalo meanwhile is 5-4-1 in their last ten games and showing more and more of that youthful energy that everyone raved about to start the year. Jack Eichel is coming off a multi point game against the Leafs and the Sabres aren’t going away easily out East. They may still not have enough games left to make a real deep playoff run, but as of now, everyone is scared when Buffalo comes to town.
Evander Kane against Bo Horvat. Kane continues to light up the scoreboard and remains the most dangerous goal scorer on the Sabres. He’s capable of picking his spot at any moment and the Canucks will have to be weary of him anytime he’s on the ice. we spoke about Horvat earlier and how important he is to this team. He’ll have to find a way to chip in if Vancouver wants to come out own top.
The Canucks are getting great odds for being on the road and we love that. Vancouver will be taking on a tired team in the Sabres after the play Toronto the night before so take the Canucks on the spread.