NHL Picks and Betting Tips April 7, 2018

Last Updated: 2018-04-07

AFTERNOON LINE REPORT – Saturday, April 7th

 

It’s a sad day across the National Hockey League as 29 teams will take the ice for their final regular season game. There’s expected to be a moment of silence in each arena for the Humboldt Broncos, a junior ice hockey team from Saskatchewan, Canada. In case you hadn’t heard, the team from the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League was involved in a heartbreaking accident yesterday when their team bus collided with a truck. The bus was carrying 28 people, including players, coaches and parents (29 including the bus driver). RCMP reported 14 people died while the other 14 were all sent to hospital with injuries, including three in critical condition.

A tremendous number of current NHL players and coaches either played in Saskatchewan or traveled that very road on team buses themselves so it really hits home for them and it’s obviously an emotional day as everyone talks about it including Mike Babcock, one of the more stoic men in the sport, who grew up nearby in the province as he visibly fought back tears when talking about the incident this morning.

While those thoughts will be prevalent today and take precedence over several games of importance with playoff implications around the league, as Babcock said in his final sentence in the clip above, “Let’s talk about hockey.”

 

Today’s final NHL report for the regular season will look a bit different as we aren’t really concerned about injury news for teams who won’t be playing any more games. I’ve listed the starting goaltenders and all the players who are expected out of the lineup today. Several teams are resting certain stars to give them a bit more rest before the playoffs and while there’s still probably a few names who will be added to this list before tonight, I’ve listed everyone who has been confirmed.

I’ve also included a “Playoff Scenario” section for each team so you’ll know exactly what is on the line for them today and can maybe use that to help you figure out how motivated certain teams might be (I ran out of time for this after finalizing all the lineup changes and re-calculating numbers so check back later if interested in this. I’ll start filling them in after this goes to post).
The most interesting seems to be in the Metropolitan Division as Columbus and New Jersey are both sitting a number of regulars in what might appear like an effort to avoid Pittsburgh in the opening round. That’s probably not the case as that would be a dangerous game to play as a win by Philadelphia would see them jump over both the Jackets and Devils (if they both lose in regulation) which would mean one of those two teams would have to face Tampa Bay or Boston and that should be a bigger fear.

 

Last night we gave a game back as Casey DeSmith decided it was a good time for his first career NHL shutout as the Pens downed the Senators 4-0, making our over bet a loser. That brings the overall season tally to +16.31 units as we enter the final full day of action. With so much uncertainty surrounding motivation and the resting of players, the final day is always difficult to sort out and generally a good idea to lay low in terms of betting. That being said, while most games should be avoided, there are still a few we can feel relatively confident with and those will be our focus today.

As always, be sure to check in with me on Twitter (@kreatture) for updates after morning skates, additional plays, or just to chat.


*All odds courtesy BetOnline as of 3:25pm Eastern Time

 

*NOTE* I assign a value to every player in the NHL which is part of the line I create. Only those players with a value greater than zero are listed below in the injury report for each team. In other words, if a player is worth nothing to the line movement, he won’t be listed.  

NEW YORK RANGERS @ PHILADELPHIA FLYERS – [3:05pm EST]

Projected Goaltenders
NY Rangers – Henrik Lundqvist (confirmed)
Philadelphia – Brian Elliott (confirmed)

Injury Report
NY Rangers – Fast (out), Shattenkirk (out)
Philadelphia – no significant injuries

Playoff Scenario
– The Rangers will play the role of spoiler today and don’t think they’re taking this role lightly. Henrik Lundqvist said yesterday he vividly remembers back in 2010 when the Flyers played the spoiler and eliminated NY from a playoff spot on the final day of the regular season. The King would love nothing more to return the favor this afternoon.

– Philadelphia needs at least one point today to clinch the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. A regulation loss leaves the door open for Florida to win their final two games and possibly sneak in. With Columbus and New Jersey both resting several key players today, two points for the Flyers could potentially jump them over both teams for third in the Metro and a first round date with the Penguins. Other possible first round opponents could be Tampa Bay, Boston or Washington.

 

NEW YORK ISLANDERS @ DETROIT RED WINGS

Projected Goaltenders
NY Islanders – Thomas Greiss (confirmed)
Detroit – Jared Coreau (confirmed)

Injury Report
NY Islanders – Cizikas (out), Kulemin (out), de Haan (out), Boychuk (out)
Detroit – Green (out), Glendening (in)

Playoff Scenario
– This is one of five games tonight which have absolutely no playoff implications so the only thing at stake here is positioning for better lottery odds and the top draft pick. The Islanders are currently the tenth worst overall team in the league and a win won’t change their placement. A loss could improve them as high as the seventh worst overall depending on NYR, Chicago and Edmonton’s results. This could be John Tavares’ final game with the franchise.

– Detroit is currently the fifth worst overall team. A win could see them pass Vancouver and drop to the sixth worst overall. A loss could improve them all the way to the third worst overall if Montreal and Arizona win.

 

NEW JERSEY DEVILS @ WASHINGTON CAPITALS

Projected Goaltenders
New Jersey – Cory Schneider (confirmed)
Washington – Braden Holtby (confirmed)

Injury Report
New Jersey – Kinkaid (out), Johansson (out), Hall (out), Palmieri (out), Zajac (out), Vatanen (out)
Washington – Oshie (out), Beagle (out)

Playoff Scenario
– New Jersey will sit several regulars today and won’t even dress Keith Kinkaid as backup with Eddie Lack being called up for that role. Cory Schneider really wants (and needs) a good performance today so I don’t think the Devils will completely roll over for this one. They’re currently in the first Wild Card spot and one or two points could jump them over Columbus for third in the Metro and a first round opponent in Pittsburgh. A loss could see them fall to the second Wild Card if Philadelphia wins which would give them Tampa Bay or Boston as a first round opponent. There’s been a heavy line move on the Caps with the Devils lineup announcement but the Caps have nothing to play for either. The Flyers game will be over by the time New Jersey gets on the ice so if the Flyers win, the Devils could be worth a late play addition.

– Washington has locked up the number one seed in the Metro and can’t catch Boston or Tampa Bay for the top seed in the Eastern Conference, so they really have absolutely nothing to play for here. Braden Holtby has struggled and as outlined above, if the Devils need this game to avoid the Lightning or Bruins they could be worthy of a play.

 

BUFFALO SABRES @ FLORIDA PANTHERS

Projected Goaltenders
Buffalo – Adam Wilcox (likely), Linus Ullmark possible [UPDATE: Surprising but Johnson (confirmed). Housley said if Philly gets a point and Florida is eliminated, Wilcox could play some]
Florida – Roberto Luongo (confirmed) [UPDATE: Reimer (confirmed) will start with the Cats now officially eliminated]

Injury Report
Buffalo – Lehner (out), Girgensons (out), Bogosian (out), McCabe (out), Antipin (out)
Florida – Barkov (out)

Playoff Scenario
– Buffalo has already locked up the honor of being this year’s worst overall team so a win or loss means nothing here. They have the chance to play spoiler and end Florida’s season with any kind of victory but it’s hard to know whether this team even cares about that, seeing how their culture has been lacking the work ethic to be a successful NHL franchise.

– Florida is in the most unique scenario of the day. The Flyers are playing right now and up 1-0 after the first 20 minutes and if they get at least one point against the Rangers, this game becomes meaningless for the Panthers. They’ll know the results of that game by the time they hit the ice and if they’ve been eliminated it will be a tremendous letdown spot after weeks of “must-win” games. It’s unfortunate the opponent here is Buffalo as this was set up to be a huge fade spot (expecting the Flyers to win) but the Sabres would still probably have to be the play here if the Cats are, indeed, eliminated. If Philadelphia loses in regulation (the only good outcome for Florida) then taking the Cats in regulation is viable. [UPDATE: Florida has officially been eliminated with the Flyers win earlier so the emotional letdown is sinking in now. Bob Boughner was unsure if he would now made any changes to the lineup with nothing on the line now (Definite lineup changes which I retweeted on Twitter). The Sabres are probably worth adding at a price of over +200] [UPDATE: Offically added Sabres ML (+205) as a play on Twitter at 6:20pm EST]

 

MONTREAL CANADIENS @ TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

Projected Goaltenders
Montreal – Carey Price (confirmed)
Toronto – Frederik Andersen (confirmed)

Injury Report
Montreal – Pacioretty (out), Hemsky (out), Danault (out), A. Shaw (out), Weber (out), Mete (out), Hudon (doubtful)
Toronto – Johnsson (out), Dermott (in)

Playoff Scenario
– It’s a classic finale for Hockey Night in Canada but unfortunately neither the Canadiens nor Maple Leafs have anything to play for other than pride tonight. Montreal is currently the fourth worst overall team in the standings and a win could drop them to sixth depending on Vancouver and Detroit results. A loss could see them improve to third worst overall if Arizona wins.

– Toronto has virtually been locked into the three seed in the Atlantic Division for what seems like forever. They have nothing on the line in that regard but Mike Babcock is putting out what would most likely be his game one starting lineup (unfortunately that doesn’t seem to include Andreas Johnsson right now) so this looks like a nice tune-up game for the Leafs.

 

OTTAWA SENATORS @ BOSTON BRUINS

Projected Goaltenders
Ottawa – Danny Taylor (confirmed)
Boston – Anton Khudobin (confirmed)

Injury Report
Ottawa – Condon (out), Stone (out), Gaborik (out), Wideman (out), Karlsson (doubtful)
Boston – Rick Nash (out), Riley Nash (out), Bjork (out), Carlo (out), Grzelcyk (out)

Playoff Scenario
– Ottawa is locked into the second worst overall team so no consequences to a win or loss. It was believed Erik Karlsson might fly to Boston to suit up tonight but I haven’t heard anything about that happening. The Sens are still playing hard but I don’t know much about Danny Taylor and what he offers in net.

– Boston still has a shot at winning the Atlantic Division and clinching the number one seed in the Eastern Conference but they’ll need some help. If Tampa Bay loses in any fashion or only wins in a shootout, then a regulation or overtime win by the Bruins tonight AND tomorrow against Florida would give them the title. Both games start at the same time this evening so expect the Bruins to go full out as long as the Bolts-Canes game remains close.

 

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS @ WINNIPEG JETS

Projected Goaltenders
Chicago – Jeff Glass (likely) [UPDATE: Glass (confirmed)]
Winnipeg – Connor Hellebuyck (confirmed)

Injury Report
Chicago – Duclair (out), Toews (questionable), Hayden (questionable) [UPDATE: Toews, Hayden (out)]
Winnipeg – Trouba (out), Enstrom (out), Kulikov (out)

Playoff Scenario
– Chicago is currently the eighth worst overall team. A win could drop them as low as tenth depending on the Islanders and Rangers result. A loss could see them improve to seventh if Edmonton wins.

– Winnipeg is locked into the two seed in the Central Division and will face Minnesota in the opening round which is the only locked in first round matchup right now. The Jets have rested their stars over the past few games so everyone is going tonight except Jacob Trouba. Connor Hellebuyck can set a new record for most wins in a regular season by a U.S.-born goaltender with a victory.

 

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING @ CAROLINA HURRICANES

Projected Goaltenders
Tampa Bay – Louis Domingue (expected) [UPDATED: Domingue (confirmed). Budaj will backup with Vasilevskiy not dressing]
Carolina – Cam Ward (likely)

Injury Report
Tampa Bay – Stamkos (out)
Carolina – Rask (out), McGinn (out), Pesce (out), Faulk (out)

Playoff Scenario
– Tampa Bay needs a regulation or overtime victory to secure the Atlantic Division title and home ice through to the Eastern Conference Finals. A shootout win or loss of any kind would open the door for Boston who could still pass them with two regulation or overtime wins (both teams would then have 48 ROW and Boston would hold the edge in the head-to-head second tiebreaker).

– Carolina is in No Man’s Land being the 11th worst overall team. They can’t move up with a loss and could drop to 12th with a win and Calgary loss.

 

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS @ NASHVILLE PREDATORS

Projected Goaltenders
Columbus – Joonas Korpisalo (confirmed)
Nashville – Pekka Rinne (confirmed)

Injury Report
Columbus – Panarin (out), Wennberg (out), Atkinson (out), Foligno (out), Jones (out), Werenski (out), Murray (out), Nutivaara (out)
Nashville – Arvidsson (out), Tolvanen (out), Jarnkrok (out)

Playoff Scenario
– Columbus is resting the bulk of their stars tonight and unlike New Jersey probably is trying to avoid Pittsburgh in the opening round, even if that means facing Tampa Bay or Boston. It’s no secret at this point of Bobrovsky’s struggles against the Pens. Philadelphia is currently in full control (up 4-0 late second period) which would move them to 98 points and one ahead of Columbus and New Jersey. If the Jackets and Devils then both lost tonight, Columbus holds the head-to-head second tiebreaker so would be the first Wild Card team and face Washington. A loss coupled with one point from New Jersey would drop them to the second Wild Card and a date with the Lightning or Bruins.

– Nashville already clinched the Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL’s top team and will hold home ice throughout the entire playoffs. The only regular getting rest tonight is Viktor Arvidsson as he’s been banged up recently. This line is still only at -155 for the Preds which is incredibly generous considering the lineups.

 

ANAHEIM DUCKS @ ARIZONA COYOTES

Projected Goaltenders
Anaheim – John Gibson/Reto Berra (unknown)
Arizona – Antti Raanta (confirmed)

Injury Report
Anaheim – Eaves (out), Bieksa (out), Fowler (out)
Arizona – Dvorak (out), Demers (out), Hjalmarsson (out), Chychrun (out), Connauton (out)

Playoff Scenario
– The California teams will jockey tonight for second and third in the Pacific Division and the first Wild Card spot. Anaheim is currently third in the division one point behind San Jose and one ahead of Los Angeles. The Ducks probably have the toughest matchup tonight being on the road against a red-hot Coyotes team but honestly I think Vegas would be a better matchup for them than San Jose anyway. Ultimately, this game doesn’t really matter to the Ducks.

– Arizona is the third worst overall team currently and can’t drop below Ottawa or Buffalo. A win could drop them to fourth or fifth depending on Montreal and Detroit results. The Coyotes are surprisingly sitting a couple of regulars in Dvorak and Connauton who I guess must have minor injuries. This is probably one of the toughest games to pick tonight.

 

ST. LOUIS BLUES @ COLORADO AVALANCHE

Projected Goaltenders
St. Louis – Jake Allen (confirmed)
Colorado – Jonathan Bernier (confirmed)

Injury Report
St. Louis – Bouwmeester (out), Gunnarsson (out)
Colorado – Varlamov (out), Johnson (out)

Playoff Scenario
– A winner-take-all single game for the Blues and Avs here. Kind of. St. Louis currently holds a one point edge over Colorado and has a one game lead in the first tiebreaker of ROW (41-40). The Blues also hold the second head-to-head tiebreaker. So, any win by the Blues obviously gets them in.

– The plan for Colorado is simple. They must win this game in regulation so we could see a rare sight with the Avs pulling their goaltender if this game is tied late in the third period. A win in overtime or the shootout simply isn’t enough.

 

VANCOUVER CANUCKS @ EDMONTON OILERS

Projected Goaltenders
Vancouver – Anders Nilsson (confirmed)
Edmonton – Cam Talbot/Al Montoya (unknown)

Injury Report
Vancouver – Boeser (out), Eriksson (out), Baertschi (out), Granlund (out), Gudbranson (out), Tanev (out)
Edmonton – Klefbom (out), Sekera (out), Auvitu (questionable)

Playoff Scenario
– Daniel and Henrik Sedin played their final home game in their career with that epic storybook ending against Arizona Thursday night. Now, this will officially be their final game for the Vancouver franchise but the major celebration was let all out last game and that was really the final memory for them. That was an incredibly emotional night and to think the Sedins or their teammates have much left in the tank tonight would probably be foolish.

– Edmonton will finally mercifully end a terribly disappointing season but they should want to finish with a final victory for the fans who expected more this year. The Oilers are currently the seventh worst overall team and while they can’t drop below anyone else, could still pass Chicago as the eighth worst.

 

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS @ CALGARY FLAMES

Projected Goaltenders
Vegas – Marc-Andre Fleury (confirmed)
Calgary – Jon Gillies (confirmed)

Injury Report
Vegas – Perron (out), Smith (GTD), Marchessault (in)
Calgary – Monahan (out), Tkachuk (out), Versteeg (out), Brodie (out), Hamonic (questionable)

Playoff Scenario
– Vegas has already clinched the Pacific Division and can’t catch Nashville for the top seed in the Western Conference. They’ll use this game to fine-tune for the playoffs which will include getting Jonathan Marchessault back in the lineup. Reilly Smith is reportedly a game-time decision.

– Calgary had a disappointing finish to their season but Glen Gulutzan wants them to treat this game with the respect it deserves. They’re just on the outside of the playoffs with teams like Dallas and Carolina so this doesn’t mean anything in terms of draft positioning. I think we get one final spirited effort from the home side here.

 

DALLAS STARS @ LOS ANGELES KINGS

Projected Goaltenders
Dallas – Kari Lehtonen (confirmed)
Los Angeles – Jonathan Quick (confirmed)

Injury Report
Dallas – Bishop (out), Hanzal (out), Johns (out)
Los Angeles – Iafallo (out), Muzzin (out), Forbort (out)

Playoff Scenario
– Dallas will own that unwanted “first team outside the playoff bubble” in the Western Conference and their lottery draft odds won’t change tonight with either a win or loss.

– Los Angeles is currently the first Wild Card team and can’t move lower. They can still finish second and gain opening round home ice with a win of any kind AND a regulation loss by San Jose AND a loss of any kind by Anaheim. They can finish third in the Pacific with a win of any kind AND any loss by the Ducks or with one point from an overtime or shootout loss and a regulation loss by the Ducks. If all three Cali teams win or lose, the Kings will remain in the first Wild Card spot and play Vegas in the opening round. Like the three teams in the Metro, this is the most complicated scenario remaining but not really.

 

MINNESOTA WILD @ SAN JOSE SHARKS

Projected Goaltenders
Minnesota – Devan Dubnyk (confirmed)
San Jose – Martin Jones (confirmed)

Injury Report
Minnesota – Suter (out), Spurgeon (out)
San Jose – Thornton (out), Ryan (out), Kane (GTD)

Playoff Scenario
– Minnesota is locked into the Central Division three seed and will open the first round on the road in Winnipeg. Devin Dubnyk will get the start in goal but Bruce Boudreau said he might only play the first and maybe the second, then Alex Stalock will take over for the rest of the game.

– It’s simple for San Jose. A win of any kind locks up second in the Pacific and opening round home ice. A loss of any kind complicates matters and could see them fall as far as the first Wild Card spot. Evander Kane is reportedly a game-time decision.

 

-END OF APRIL 7 PICKS-

 

AFTERNOON LINE REPORT – Friday, April 6th

 

We’re down to two days in the NHL regular season plus Sunday’s make-up game between Florida and Boston. Florida’s 3-2 victory over the Bruins last night kept their playoff hopes alive for the time being but Philadelphia only needs one point in tomorrow afternoon’s game against the Rangers to secure the final berth in the Eastern Conference. I’ll discuss that scenario more tomorrow but as for tonight, all four games still have playoff seeding implications for one team in each game.

In Pittsburgh, the Penguins can clinch the second seed in the Metropolitan Division and opening round home ice with just one point against Ottawa as they hold the first tiebreaker over Columbus and New Jersey if either of them finished tied with the Pens.

Tampa Bay now controls their own destiny for an Atlantic Division title by virtue of Boston’s regulation loss last night. Both teams currently sit with 110 points but the Bolts hold the tiebreaker with one more Regulation/Overtime win so if they win tonight and tomorrow at Carolina in regulation or overtime (both games), the crown is theirs.

St. Louis’ game at Chicago tonight won’t seal their playoff fate one way or another but it can change how tomorrow’s finale at Colorado needs to play out for them. A loss of any kind tonight by the Blues would require them to win tomorrow’s game in any way (regulation, overtime or shootout) since they hold the second tiebreaker (head-to-head) over the Avs if the teams finished tied in points. A Blues victory in regulation or overtime tonight means they would be able to lose tomorrow’s game in overtime or a shootout and still qualify whereas a victory tonight in a shootout would mean they can lose to Colorado only in a shootout and still qualify. Got all that? Good.

And lastly, in Anaheim, the Ducks have clinched their berth but could still finish second or third in the Pacific Division or as the first Wild Card team. Ultimately, tonight’s game doesn’t really mean much to them so be cautious if you’re looking to back the Ducks in regulation or the puck line.

 

Yesterday’s card was very good to us as we ended the night 4-1 for a +4.00 unit gain which gets us back into the black for April but the greatest thing about last night was watching the game in Vancouver where the fans paid tribute to Daniel and Henrik Sedin’s final home game in an illustrious 18-year career. It was a storybook script even Hollywood couldn’t have written as the Canucks rallied from a 3-1 third period deficit and won the game in overtime on Daniel’s game-winning goal assisted by – who else – his brother Henrik. It was an incredible moment and one of the coolest stories that will ever be told in Canucks lore with how perfectly everything played out.

Tonight’s card offers a quick breather before Saturday’s massive 15-game finale but we’re going to try and sneak in another winner and take a shot on the over in Pittsburgh. Chicago makes a lot of sense tonight but the current price doesn’t so I decided to just pass there. The juice is pretty huge on Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay to win straight up but if you wanted to parlay them together you can get it down to the -130 range which isn’t too terrible and looks fairly safe. Other than that, we’ll get ready for tomorrow’s card which could prove to be quite tricky.

As always, be sure to check in with me on Twitter (@kreatture) for updates after morning skates, additional plays, or just to chat.


*All odds courtesy BetOnline as of 5:20pm Eastern Time

 

*NOTE* I assign a value to every player in the NHL which is part of the line I create. Only those players with a value greater than zero are listed below in the injury report for each team. In other words, if a player is worth nothing to the line movement, he won’t be listed.  

OTTAWA SENATORS @ PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

Projected Goaltenders
Ottawa – Craig Anderson (confirmed)
Pittsburgh – Matt Murray/Casey DeSmith (unknown) [UPDATE: DeSmith (confirmed)]

Injury Report
Ottawa – Condon (out), Stone (out), Gaborik (out), Wideman (out), Karlsson (doubtful), Ryan (in)
Pittsburgh – Brassard (out)

Injuries/Lineup Notes
– Mark Stone has been shut down for Ottawa and won’t play tonight or tomorrow.
– As of late this afternoon it does not appear Erik Karlsson will play tonight. He was not with the team but there was talk he might fly today to meet up with them and play this weekend. There’s a possibility he could do that for tomorrow in Boston which would make more sense, seeing how it will most likely be his final chance to suit up in a Senators uniform.
– Bobby Ryan will play tonight. He left Wednesday’s game in the first period with a lower-body injury but was on the ice at yesterday’s practice and is good to go.

– Mike Sullivan hasn’t announced whether Casey DeSmith will be in goal tonight or if he’ll go right back to Matt Murray after last night’s big victory. This is the Pens final regular season game so they’ll have four or five days off before the first round gets underway. Don’t be surprised if Murray gets the call again to lock up home ice. [UPDATE: A bit of a surprise move with Sullivan announcing DeSmith as tonight’s starter. He’s been a bit hit-or-miss in his starts so if anything this probably helps our over play a bit but I would be more cautious about laying the big number on the Pens]
– Derick Brassard will miss his fifth straight game with a lower-body injury. He still hasn’t resumed skating. [UPDATE: It was just announced late today that Brassard did begin skating this morning which is a big step for him. Hopefully he’s on track now for a return early in the playoffs. Sidney Crosby also apparently took a hard slash last night but is fine and good to go tonight]

 

BUFFALO SABRES @ TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

Projected Goaltenders
Buffalo – Chad Johnson (confirmed)
Tampa Bay – Andrei Vasilevskiy (expected)

Injury Report
Buffalo – Lehner (out), Ullmark (out), Girgensons (out), Bogosian (out), McCabe (out), Antipin (out)
Tampa Bay – Stamkos (out)

Injuries/Lineup Notes
– No personnel changes for Buffalo tonight but Phil Housley will shift around his lines again. Okposo will return to the top line with Eichel and Wilson. Mittelstadt will center the second line between Rodrigues and Pominville and O’Reilly centers Reinhart and Alex Nylander on the third line.

– It seems like Tampa Bay has decided to rest Steven Stamkos for the remainder of the regular season with the goal of him returning to practice before the playoffs. Brayden Point has moved up to center the top line between Kucherov and Palat.
– Andrei Vasilevskiy will get the start in goal and with the Lightning in control of their own fate for the division title and a few days off before the playoffs begin, don’t be surprised if he also starts tomorrow’s game in Carolina if they get the win tonight.

 

ST. LOUIS BLUES @ CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

Projected Goaltenders
St. Louis – Carter Hutton (confirmed)
Chicago – Jean-Francois Berube (confirmed)

Injury Report
St. Louis – Allen (out), Bouwmeester (out), Gunnarsson (out)
Chicago – Crawford (out), Forsberg (out), Toews (out), Duclair (out), Hayden (out)

Injuries/Lineup Notes
– Carter Hutton will make his first start in over a month for St. Louis in a game that ultimately can’t decide their playoff fate but could give them a little more rope in tomorrow’s game at Colorado. Jake Allen won’t dress at all as he’ll rest for that matchup so Ville Husso was recalled to back up tonight. Hutton has had just one appearance since his return from injury which was last Saturday where he gave up four goals on just 19 shots in relief of Allen at Arizona.

– Jonathan Toews, Anthony Duclair and John Hayden all took the ice this morning but will all sit tonight. Nick Schmaltz will continue to center the top line between Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane. Toews actually took line rushes on the second line wing in place of Tomas Jurco who is questionable tonight with an illness. If Jurco can’t go, the Hawks will go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.
– Chicago reportedly had a very upbeat and looser than normal practice this morning. Team President John McDonough announced Thursday that both Joel Quenneville and GM Stan Bowman will return to their respective positions next season. Both men are very well respected by their players so this has to be like a weight lifted off their shoulders.

 

DALLAS STARS @ ANAHEIM DUCKS

Projected Goaltenders
Dallas – Mike McKenna (confirmed)
Anaheim – Ryan Miller (confirmed)

Injury Report
Dallas – Bishop (out), Hanzal (out), Johns (out)
Anaheim – Gibson (doubtful), Eaves (out), Bieksa (out), Fowler (out)

Injuries/Lineup Notes
– Mike McKenna will be given the start tonight for Dallas as Ken Hitchcock said he earned it when he stopped all 17 shots he faced in relief of Kari Lehtonen in Tuesday’s 4-2 comeback victory at San Jose. It was a nice story for McKenna but let’s not get clouded by that performance. McKenna is a 34-year old AHL journeyman who has had terrible NHL numbers in his limited sample. He played 15 games with Tampa Bay in 2008-09 and has made just eight NHL appearances since then (including Tuesday) and has a career .892 save percentage. As long as Anaheim brings the effort tonight, they shouldn’t have any trouble popping a few goals.

– Ryan Miller will get the start again for Anaheim after earning a victory in the 3-1 win over Minnesota on Wednesday. Good news for Ducks fans though as starting goaltender John Gibson returned to practice yesterday and is expected to be good to go. With Anaheim having already clinched a playoff spot there’s no need to rush Gibson back so he’ll get a little more rest.
– Randy Carlyle announced yesterday what we already basically knew but it’s now official that Patrick Eaves will not return at all this season. Eaves played just the first two games of the year with the Ducks before being diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder where the body’s immune system attacks your nervous system.

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