The NHL Trade Deadline is on Monday. I have long been an advocate without a big enough platform of leagues having zero games on the day of the Deadline. It is hard enough to perform at a high level without having to worry about friends and teammates getting traded. It is hard enough for players to leave their families. For teams to realize that the front office believes that they aren’t good enough to compete for the playoffs.
At least the NHL only has one game on Monday February 24, so it kind of worked out for this season, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Players are left in a bevy of uncomfortable situations because it’s a “business”. They know what they signed up for, right? Well, they are also still human.
With that in mind, players will be coming and going and teams will be trying to develop the chemistry that will carry them through the playoff push. To me, this is a tough week in the NHL, so I would keep things a little bit lighter than usual.
Here are the NHL situational spots for the week ending March 1:
Monday February 24
Ottawa Senators at Columbus Blue Jackets – The Senators are not a playoff-caliber team this season. The Blue Jackets weren’t thought to be one, but Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins changed that narrative for quite a while. The Blue Jackets were one of the hottest teams in the NHL going into the All-Star Break and the bye week and have been about the worst team since getting back to work. They went all-in last season to make a playoff push and it paid off with a series win. This season, the Jackets don’t project to do a whole lot, but they should take care of their affairs here as a big favorite at home. I’m just not sure I would bet it with how bad they’ve been lately.
Tuesday February 25
Winnipeg Jets at Washington Capitals – A slow Monday gives way to a very, very busy Tuesday. The Jets and Capitals square off in D.C. and this is a fade spot of the Capitals for me. They will be coming off of back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday, including a huge NBC Game of the Week spot against the Penguins on Sunday afternoon. I just don’t think they’ll be fully invested in this one. The Jets may not win, but a +1.5 puck line play makes some sense and I’ll take a small piece of the outright money line as well.
San Jose Sharks at Philadelphia Flyers – Every point is important for the Flyers right now. The Sharks, however, are not a playoff contender. This is also a 3-in-4 in the NYC/Philly area for San Jose. The Flyers, meanwhile, had a little more downtime last week. You’ll be laying a pretty penny here, but the Flyers need games like this a lot more and should take care of this one against a San Jose team that gets to go home after this matchup.
New Jersey Devils at Detroit Red Wings – The Devils and Red Wings square off on Tuesday and it signals the start of a long road trip for the Devils. Now, it is not easy to lay the type of price that you will have to here on the Devils against a miserable Red Wings team, but the first game of a road trip is usually a rallying point for teams, even teams as hapless as the Devils. The Red Wings are awful. The Devils are looking forward to getting to California, but not before taking two points here.
Vancouver Canucks at Montreal Canadiens – The Canucks start off an Eastern Conference swing in Montreal on Tuesday. As we know, teams really like to get off to a good start on those road trips and this is the first of four in six with stops in Ottawa, Toronto, and Columbus. This is the first game back from a roadie for Montreal, which is a spot that we have tried to highlight a lot this season, but it turns out that it has not been as profitable as we thought, particularly for Eastern Conference teams. Still, I do like the Canucks here.
Ottawa Senators at Nashville Predators – The Predators look like a good money line parlay piece to pair with the Flyers here. They take on a Senators team in a back-to-back with travel. The Predators have two days off before this one and they appear to be rounding into form a little bit here. They should definitely hold serve at Bridgestone Arena.
Florida Panthers at Arizona Coyotes – This is an obviously bad spot for the Panthers. They do have two days off before this game, but this is a fifth road game in nine days off of the California swing and a stop in Vegas last week. Arizona, meanwhile, has had some time to settle in at home. These are points that both teams need, but I don’t know if the road-weary Panthers can step up in this one.
Wednesday February 26
Buffalo Sabres at Colorado Avalanche – The Sabres may be catching Colorado at a good time, as the Avs have a bevy of injury concerns and considerations. On the other hand, that one stop in the thin air for an Eastern Conference team is never very easy. Surprisingly, Colorado is only 7-3-3 at home against the Eastern Conference and 10-3-1 on the road, but the Avs still get Buffalo in an interesting spot here. The Sabres are opening up a road trip, typically a rallying point for a team, but they do so in a tough environment against a team a little desperate based on some recent play. I’m not sure I could take either side here, but we do only have three games to consider.
Edmonton Oilers at Vegas Golden Knights – Vegas is playing some extremely inspired hockey right now and they catch Edmonton on a back-to-back. Vegas doesn’t have any sort of look-ahead spot or anything here in this one with Buffalo on deck on Friday. Vegas is clearly in the better spot, but you’re going to pay for it if you want to play it.
Thursday February 27
Washington Capitals at Winnipeg Jets – We’ve got a big card on Thursday night, but we have a limited number of spots given the Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday format this week. This is an interesting one because we’ve got one of those home-and-home dealios. If the Capitals do in fact struggle with the Jets on Tuesday night, perhaps this is a bounce back spot for them. Other than the Rapid Revenge Theory, though, there just isn’t a whole lot to this game.
Minnesota Wild at Detroit Red Wings – Sometimes the easiest points to get end up being the toughest. Minnesota is in the dumps this season with a coaching change and the Jason Zucker trade and now they go to Detroit, where they are supposed to win, on Thursday. This is the front end of a B2B with travel with a stop in Columbus on Friday. The Wild and Blue Jackets just played on Tuesday in St. Paul, so that will activate the Rapid Revenge Theory for Friday. Does Minnesota completely bypass this game and squander a chance at an easy couple of points?
Toronto Maple Leafs at Florida Panthers – As mentioned earlier, it turns out that Eastern Conference teams care not for the first game back angle that we’ve talked about a lot this season. It has been profitable to fade Western Conference teams in that first home game, but not East teams. This is an East team in that role on Thursday against Toronto. Toronto is partaking in the Florida swing and then stops home to play Vancouver before going to California. I think there is something to be said about getting into warm weather, because, again, these guys are human, but the Leafs have a lot of issues right now. Not sure I’d take either side here, but it is an interesting handicap given the spot.
Friday February 28
Minnesota Wild at Columbus Blue Jackets – It really is a weak week for situational spots. This one is pretty obvious in two ways. The first is that Minnesota is in a B2B with travel off of playing Detroit. The other is that this is a Rapid Revenge spot because the two teams just played on Tuesday. Columbus is the rested team and the team with a greater sense of urgency, but they also have not been playing well for a while now. I can’t take anything for granted with them and that includes this game.
New York Rangers at Philadelphia Flyers – Every point is big for the Rangers, but especially those against the teams that they are chasing in the Metropolitan Division. Unfortunately, this is a bad spot. The Flyers have two days off before this game. The Rangers are playing a B2B and a 3-in-4 on the road. The spot very much favors Philadelphia and these two teams will play again on Sunday in that NBC Game of the Week timeslot. Advantage Flyers to be sure on Friday.
Saturday February 29
Colorado Avalanche at Nashville Predators – Teams dealing with cluster injuries can have a real tough time in back-to-back situations. The Avalanche seem to have been dealing with lots of injuries over the course of the season. They’re in a B2B here against the Predators after playing in Raleigh on Friday night. Nashville is off on Friday and has no travel this week. The spot very much favors the Predators, even if Colorado is probably the better team, at least at full strength.
Carolina Hurricanes at Montreal Canadiens – Speaking of Carolina, they, too, are in a B2B with travel as they head from Raleigh up to Montreal. This is technically the first game of a long road trip, but this plays more like a standalone road game because Carolina won’t play again until next Thursday at Philadelphia. From a spot standpoint, it favors the Canadiens, who do not play on Friday.
Buffalo Sabres at Arizona Coyotes – Obvious spot here. After two days in Vegas, the Sabres head to Arizona for a 3-in-4 road stretch. The Coyotes have three days off before this game. They’ll be favored by a decent margin, but probably not enough for me to stay away from this really obvious spot.
Pittsburgh Penguins at San Jose Sharks – This is the last game of the 3-in-4 California swing for the Penguins. Outside of that, there isn’t anything really tough about this spot for Pittsburgh and they’re facing a pretty bad San Jose team here. It is a B2B with travel, but that’s about it.
Sunday March 1
Calgary Flames at Florida Panthers – This is a pretty bad spot for Calgary. This is the last game of a 4-in-6 stretch. It is also a B2B for Florida, but with both games at home. Calgary heads home after this one, so maybe they can rally, especially depending on what happens against Tampa Bay on Saturday, but the spot, at least on the surface, does look really challenging.
Vancouver Canucks at Columbus Blue Jackets – This is a bad spot for the Canucks. They are also playing a 4-in-6 here and it comes after playing Toronto on Saturday. Furthermore, it comes after playing on Hockey Night in Canada, which is a big deal for the western Canada teams that come easy. Columbus has several favorable spots this week. If they can’t figure it out and get it going, that is a pretty big commentary on their playoff chances.
New Jersey Devils at Anaheim Ducks – One more to round out the week and that is New Jersey playing a 4-in-6 road game at Anaheim. The Devils played at 1 p.m. PT on Saturday against the Kings and now play at 5 p.m. PT on Sunday. It is hard enough making that long trip out to California, but playing at all of these different start times makes things even tougher. I’d be looking at the Ducks here for sure.
Keep an eye out for these NHL situational spots every week at BangTheBook.com!