Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 12:45 PM EST.
7:05 PM EST. Regulation only. The Hurricanes have won three in a row and four of their past five but let’s have a look at who they faced. Carolina’s victories occurred against the Islanders and Jaroslav Halak before they lost 7-3 to Edmonton. What followed were three wins in a row against Arizona with Darcy Kuemper in goal and then back-to-back wins over the Senators. They Canes needed six goals to beat Arizona because Kuemper was tagged with giving up five. Carolina scored four goals or more in all of the above mentioned victories all against weak goaltending but they won’t have that luxury tonight against Keith Kinkaid, who has taken over the #1 spot over Cory Schneider. A team can get into a lot of bad habits by playing the dregs that Carolina has faced recently.
While Carolina has faced Ottawa twice, the Islanders, Edmonton and the Rangers most recently, the Devils have faced San Jose, Pittsburgh, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Tampa Bay, Winnipeg, Nashville and Vegas with all of those on the road (!) with the exception of their game against Winnipeg. In terms of being battle tested lately and facing the toughest of the tough, check off the Devils. Due to the Devils extremely tough schedule, the odds were stacked against them to make the playoffs but five wins in seven road games against the best teams in the NHL has them positioned to make the playoffs and they deserve it. Of course, there is the possibility of a letdown after great success against so many great teams. However, with Carolina playing last night with Cam Ward in goal, there is a great chance that Scott Darling will be in goal here. The ‘Canes signed this stiff (Darling) to 16.4M over four seasons and they will play him. Even if they don’t, Ward on back-to-back nights is another disaster waiting to happen. By contrast, Kinkaid has been one of the hottest goaltenders in the NHL over the past month. He has posted save percentages of .947, .931, .944, .929, 1.000, .930 and .972 in seven of his last 10 starts. This is a goaltending mismatch and goaltending decides hockey games more than anything else.
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NEW JERSEY -½ +106 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.12)