The Predators travel to Anaheim after a loss last night to the Kings while the Ducks are finally home after a miserable five game road trip that saw them lose each and every one of those games.
Nashville Predators (7-3, + 3.5 units)
The Predators will be three games into a four-game road swing when they meet the Ducks tonight and will try to rebound after a 4-3 overtime loss to the Kings last night. Nashville continued their streak of keeping their opponents off the scoreboard and through their first 10 games remain the only team that has not surrendered a first-period goal. The record is 12 games by the 1974-75 Kings and the Preds hope to break that 40 year-old mark when they host St. Louis on Saturday.
Through the early part of the season Nashville is picking up right where they left off last season when they totaled 104 points which trailed only the Blues and Ducks in the Western Conference. They are currently ranked 6th in the league in goals allowed, 8th in penalty killing, 10th on the power play and 12th in goals scored. James Neal leads the team in goals (7) and points (10) while 6'5" veteran Pekka Rinne has backstopped the Predators in nine of 10 games this season boasting a 1.97 GAA and a .925 save percentage.
Anaheim Ducks (1-9, -10.8 units)
If there has been a more disappointing start to the 2015-2016 NHL season than that of the Anaheim Ducks I cannot think of one. Last season's top seed in the Western Conference with 109 points has had a spectacularly slow start and those who have been backing them blindly in their NHL Picks are almost 11 units poorer because of it. The team recently ended a five-game road trip in which they failed to deliver one win and lost their last contest 2-1 to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.
Center iceman Ryan Getzlaf was struggling with only one point and a -5 plus/minus rating before he was sidelined with appendicitis. Getzlaf is an integral part of the Ducks' offense and his uncharacteristic struggles have been mirrored by the entire team. The Ducks have been anemic offensively ranking 30th in goals scored averaging only a goal per game while their power play unit has been unplugged connecting on only 10 percent of their opportunities which puts them 28th in the league. If there is one lone bright spot it would be the play of their penalty killers, shutting down over 90 percent of their opponents' man-advantage situations which is good for 2nd trailing only the New York Islanders.
You would think that a team with a 1-9 record would be an underdog to virtually anybody but as I write this the NHL Odds makers have made the Ducks a -120 favorite over a Nashville team that currently boasts one of the best records in the NHL. Why is that? Well, we all know the Ducks are not nearly as bad as their record indicates and some would say they are still a legitimate threat to go deep in the playoffs. I tend to believe that as well but I do wish Ryan Getzlaf was in the lineup which takes away some of my enthusiasm for this selection.
Though the Predators did drub the Ducks 5-1 in their earlier meeting on October 22nd in Nashville, recent history tells us that the Ducks own the series when the game is played in Anaheim which is where they have defeated the Predators in four of the last five. This is naturally also a revenge game for Anaheim against a teamt hat played into overtime last night. Assuming Frederik Andersen and his .943 home save percentage is between the pipes for the Ducks then I like my chances.
NHL Pick: Play Anaheim -120 at GTBets