As the second half of the season commences to determine who makes the playoffs or who starts vacation, we look into who's poised for quick or sluggish beginnings in looking at NHL picks.
While no exact science, we can attempt to forecast by whom a team plays and whether they are home or away. This does not mean every team will follow what is likely to happen, as some clubs get hot or cold no matter the situation, but if you are generating NHL picks, best to know the water temperature before plunging in.
We will break these down by paragraph into familiar hockey terms for easy understanding.
Facing Two on None Situation
You are the goalie, the puck comes free on the other end and in a heartbeat you see two opposing players, one with the puck, and the only thing between you and them is an ever shrinking amount of ice-space, a true "Holy Crap" or something similar moment.
With a 3-8 January, Dallas fell out of first place in the Central and will open up with seven of nine on the road. Why this appears to be a predicament is because the Stars have lost seven straight on the road, with last away victory coming on Dec. 21st in Minnesota.
Speaking of the Wild, they are 9-15 SU as visitors and will play six of next nine in away sweaters. If that is not hard enough, two of the three home games are against two of the better road clubs in the NHL in Washington and Boston and Dallas also stops by the Twin Cities.
After closing the first half 4-1, Anaheim will look to build on that success. After a home contest with rival San Jose, the Ducks will waddle out on the road for eight of nine away games, the last seven in a row, taking them from Pittsburgh to Vancouver in 11 days.
First place Los Angeles suffers a similar fate with eight of nine away from the Staples Center, with seven of them also consecutively. The Kings foray will have mostly an eastern flavor before ending Nashville, where the All-Star was just played.
San Jose's will not be gone as long as L.A. or Anaheim, nevertheless, will be away from the SAP Center for nine of next 11 games, with separate trips of four and five games, with home tilts with Calgary and Arizona sandwiched in the middle. The Sharks superb 16-8 SU away record will be tested.
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Chances Like a 4-on-3 Power Play
When a team goes on the power play, it does not guarantee they will score, rather it provides an opportunity. This how the schedule sets up for Montreal and Vancouver.
Presently, both are on the outside looking in to make the playoffs, but most of the month of February gives them a chance to move much closer into contention or in the mix. Both the Canadiens and Canucks are facing teams very similar to themselves which gives them possibility to move above the fray or stay locked into mediocrity, it's up to them.
Clean Breakaway Scheduling
After stumbling around for a couple months, Stanley Cup finalist Tampa Bay turned the page on the season with the beginning of 2016 and went 9-2 in January, picking up 18 points and moved into second place in the Atlantic Division. The Lightning will have a chance to continue that surge by playing six of next eight contests at home and given how they are playing, trips to Ottawa and Montreal are winnable.
Florida will be trying to hold off hard-charging Tampa Bay and plays eight of 11 right after the break on home ice where they are 16-7-2 this campaign. The Panthers slate is harder than the Lightning with a trip to Washington, home and home with Detroit and Pittsburgh, plus St. Louis pays a visit, nonetheless, the league's best scoring defense should thrive.