NHL Hockey Odds and Picks: Scouting the Week Ahead
by Alan Matthews - 10/20/2014
A couple of weeks ago in this space I wrote that Dallas forward Tyler Seguin was great value at 15/1 to win the Hart Trophy in the NHL this season. Well, I'm not quite ready to gloat about that yet, but so far so good. Seguin enters Monday tied for third in the league with eight points, and he was the NHL's first star for last week.
Seguin led the NHL with eight points (four goals) in three games to help the Stars earn five out of a possible six standings points. He had a hat trick against Columbus on Oct. 14 and then a game-winning goal with 2.9 seconds left to beat the Penguins on Oct. 16. Since joining the Stars for the 2013-14 season on a trade from Boston (which looks terrible now for the B's), Seguin leads the NHL with four hat tricks. The Stars are next in action Tuesday night against Vancouver. Dallas is a -140 favorite.
Big blow for the Tampa Bay Lightning as budding star defenseman Victor Hedman will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken finger. He suffered the injury on Saturday and will have surgery Tuesday. Hedman had a career-high 55 points (13 goals, 42 assists) in 75 games last season, which was fourth among defensemen. He has three goals and seven points in five games this season, tied for the NHL lead in goals and points among defensemen. Meanwhile, touted Bolts rookie Jonathan Drouin could make his NHL debut Tuesday against Calgary. The third pick in the 2013 draft broke his thumb in training camp but was recalled from the AHL on Monday.
The Red Wings could see their best overall player make his debut Tuesday. That's center Pavel Datsyuk. He missed the first five games after suffering a shoulder injury on Sept. 22. He practiced Monday, and whether he plays will be determined in the Tuesday morning skate. Datsyuk had 37 points in 45 games last year. He's great on the power play, and the Wings are just 2-for-21 with the man advantage so far this year. Goaltender Jimmy Howard should be in the lineup for Detroit against Montreal. He suffered a minor groin injury on Friday and didn't play Saturday. The Wings are +125 for Tuesday's game. The Habs lead the East with 10 points.
The Blues' big offseason addition, Paul Stastny, is being called week-to-week with a shoulder injury. It happened early in Saturday's game against Arizona when Martin Hanzal laid a hit along the boards on Stastny, who was in an awkward position. Stastny had 60 points in 71 games last year with Colorado and got a $28 million free-agent deal from St. Louis. He had four points in four games this year.
Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov hasn't started since Oct. 14 due to a groin injury, but the team thinks he will be good to go Friday against the Canucks. Varlamov was terrific last year but is 0-2-1 this with a 3.80 goals-against average. Colorado has been a major disappointment overall.
Capitals forward Brooks Laich has an upper-body injury and won't play on the team's three-game road trip through Canada this week. He averages about 15 minutes of ice time per night and has an assist thus far.
This Week's Games to Watch
San Jose at Boston, Tuesday: The Bruins have had a disappointing start with six points in seven games as the Sharks visit for the only time this season. Bruins forward Brad Marchand had 25 goals and 28 assists last season but has just two assists so far. Any time the Sharks visit Boston the story line usually involves Joe Thornton, who was once supposed to be the Bruins' next franchise player until he was traded to San Jose during the 2005 season. There was some talk this summer of the Sharks perhaps shipping him back to Boston. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask should be back in net after he was chased in his last start, allowing five goals on 23 shots to Montreal on Oct. 16. The Bruins used backup Niklas Svedberg in their last game, and he blanked Buffalo. Boston is a -135 favorite in this one.
Philadelphia at Pittsburgh, Wednesday: It's about the toughest back-to-back you could ask for here for Philly. The Flyers visit Chicago in an NBC Sports Network national TV game on Tuesday then have to head to Pittsburgh for this one, also on NBCSN. The Flyers don't look good so far with just four points and they rank 28th in goals against. That doesn't bode well against Pittsburgh, which is tops in the NHL in goals per game.
Carolina at Edmonton, Friday: These look like the two worst teams in the NHL and in fact are the only two clubs entering this week yet to have a regulation win. The Oilers have so much young talent but just one point in five games before hosting Tampa Bay on Monday night. The Hurricanes simply don't have much talent and already talk has started the team might trade its best player, Eric Staal. The face of the franchise has one season remaining on his contract after this year with a salary-cap hit of $8.25 million. The Canes aren't going to be good next year, either, so they might as well get some prospects for him. Staal does have a full no-trade clause. It's a good year to be lousy because the 2015 NHL Draft has two highly-regarded prospects in Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid.
Chicago at St. Louis, Saturday: This is the first meeting of the season between these Central Division rivals since the first round of last season's playoffs when things got very chippy. St. Louis won the first two games of that series in overtime at home before dropping the next four. Look for some retribution coming from St. Louis toward Chicago's Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith. Seabrook destroyed the Blues' David Backes in Game 2, earning a three-game suspension. Seabrook's right elbow and shoulder connected with Backes' head as Seabrook checked him. Then it appeared that Keith mocked Backes as he essentially wobbled off the ice. Keith could be heard saying "Wakey, wakey Backes. Wakey, wakey." Be interesting to see which guy the Blues go after first.
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