Swinging Johnson - NHL Record (5-3, +6.85 units)
*Games assigned 1 to 5 units.
Well, we had our first bump in the road last night as we went 1-2 with our evenings sports picks but can take some measure of solace that our biggest game of the evening (3 units) clicked when the Sharks prevailed over their hosts, the Edmonton Oilers. Unfortunately my other selections, both for 2 units, did not fare as well when the Lightning bowed 4-2 to the Maple Leafs and Under 5 ½ in the Blackhawks/Ducks tilt flamed as the teams combined for six goals.
Let's take a look at this evening's NHL betting odds for the matchup between the Devils and Hurricanes and decide where we should lean for the best value.
Take a look at our NHL Picks of the Day for more free plays.
New Jersey Devils (13-11-6)
The Devils are 3-10 since future Hall-of-Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur went down with a pinched nerve. They are 0-2-1 in their last three and 0-4-2 in their last six road contests, all lousy numbers and a primary reason why the Devils are currently on the precipice of a postseason berth.
However that all changes tonight as Brodeur returns to action and his younger understudy Johan Hedberg, just a boy at the tender age of 39-years-old, returns to the bench. While it is certainly good news that Brodeur will be back in uniform it should be noted that New Jersey has been stingy defensively in their most recent defeats. Losing by scores of 2-1 (shootout), 2-1 and 3-2 to the Flyers, Canadiens and Rangers respectively, it has been more of a power outage offensively that has caused their most recent swoon.
Patrick Elias, the team's leading point getter has been silent over the last three games while leading goal scorer David Clarkson has tallied only one point over the same period. The Devils will need to get their offense in gear if they are to come out on top tonight.
Carolina Hurricanes (15-12-2)
Carolina is in a tailspin themselves, dropping their last four contests with their most recent outing, a 4-1 loss to lowly Florida Panthers, as one of the worst defeats of the season. As if that loss wasn’t bad enough, defenseman Justin Faulk suffered a sprained knee ligament that will keep him on the shelf for two to four weeks.
While the Hurricanes have their share of playmakers and goal scorers, somehow that doesn't translate during the man-advantage situations. The 'Canes are ranked 29th in the NHL on the power play, converting only 13.1% of their chances.
Eric Staal (14-20-34) and Jiri Tlusty (13-9-22) have led the way offensively this season but have shone particularly bright against New Jersey. Staal has four assists while Tlusty has lit the lamp four times and assisted once in the two games, both victories, against the Devils this season.
Defensively the Hurricanes have faltered since starting goalie Cam Ward went on the DL with a sprained knee ligament. The tandem of Dan Ellis and Justin Peters has been tending the twine in his absence and the results have culminated in a 3-4-1 mark. But before we blame the backups for the team’s four-game slide, consider the offense has stagnated, accounting for only five goals in those four games.
These two teams are fairly evenly matched but the Hurricanes can put the puck in the net while the Devils rank 26th in goals scored. Sure, Brodeur is back but this will be his first live action in a month and the Devils have struggled to a 4-6-4 record on the road this season.
I am placing my NHL picks on the Hurricanes, as I expect them to snap their losing streak and skate out of PNC Arena with a win under their belts.NHL Picks: Play Carolina -115 for 3 units at 5Dimes.