Sunday 7 PM ET
Free NHL Pick: Panthers ML (-104)
Best Line Offered: BetOnline
Both the Florida Panthers and the Vancouver Canucks have battled and continue to battle injuries to key players and somehow stayed afloat in the playoff hunt. One could argue though that the Canucks playing without their best player and rookie sensation Elias Pettersson is almost as hard as the Panthers missing a pair of key players in Vincent Trocheck and Nick Bjugstad as they continue to remain out of the lineup. Pettersson is so valuable to his team, that yes it’s almost like the Canucks will be without two players in one when the Swedish star misses his 3rd straight game. That will be the difference in this one as Vancouver falls to Florida and suffers it’s third straight loss. As Ryan Lambert of Yahoo Sports pointed out recently, there could be a case made for Pettersson to get the Hart Trophy because he’s that valuable to his team. Per Lambert: When Pettersson is on the ice this season, his team is plus-32. When he’s off the ice, it’s minus-46. Vancouver is also just 0-3-5 without Pettersson in the lineup. They will need to find some depth up front if they want to remain in the playoff hunt but unless a huge trade is made before you read this, that won’t be happening on Sunday.
The Panthers meanwhile, aren’t exactly on fire but they’re surviving without Bjugstad and Trocheck, going 4-4-2 in their last 10 and losing a hard fought game 4-3 to Calgary this past Friday after losing to the Oilers 4-3 in a shootout Thursday. Florida defenseman Keith Yandle has been a force of offense from the blue line and is headed to the all star game with 6 goals and 30 assists thus far. Yandle and Roberto Luongo will step up again as the former Vancouver goalie will get the win in the rink he called home for so many years.
The The Panthers are 17-26 against the spread and 9-13 on the road. Florida has scored 137 goals and allowed 155. They’re 25-15-3 on the over/under and 15-8-1 at home. The Panthers are 19-24 on the puck line and 13-11 at home. Jonathan Huberdeau leads the team in assists with 35 helpers and points with 47. Mike Hoffman leads the team in goals with 21 lamplighters
The Canucks are 20-26 against the spread and 9-11 at home. Vancouver has scored 131 goals and allowed 147. They’re 20-22-4 on the over/under and 9-8-3 at home. The Canucks are 29-17 on the puck line and 14-6 at home. Pettersson leads the team in goals (22), assists (20) and points with 42. Bo Horvat is second in points with 17 goals and 19 assists.
For the Panthers, Luongo is 8-10-0-1 with a 3.36 GAA and .891 save percentage and James Reimer is 8-7-0-5 with 3.16 GAA and .895 save percentage.
For the Canucks Jacob Markstrom is 17-12-0-4 with a 2.88 GAA and .906 save percentage. Thatcher Demko is yet to start.
For the Panthers, forward Bjugstad is day-to-day with a upper-body injury and Trocheck (ankle), Derek MacKenzie (shoulder) and Jamie McGinn (back) are all out indefinitely.
For the Canucks, Pettersson is on injured reserve and Josh Leivo is day-to-day with a back injury.
Prediction: Panthers 4 Canucks 2