Joel Dorcas | February 22nd, 2020
Who’s ready for some Saturday night puck action? Tonight the Leafs look to build off a big 4-0 victory over the Penguins. The Avalanche look to get some revenge in California and the Vegas Golden Knights aim to continue their winning ways at home to the Panthers. Here we go again! Cue up the Ice Picks!
Carolina Hurricanes (34-21-4) at Toronto Maple Leafs (32-22-8)
The Maple Leafs somehow put together a complete game for once against a very strong Pittsburgh Penguins team to the tune of 4-0 Thursday on home ice. They will need to keep it going to keep pace in a tight race to just reach the Playoffs. The Leafs and Canes had a game to remember in their only meeting this season, an 8-6 Leaf victory December 23rd. The Canes will come into this one after playing the Rangers Friday night. They have gone 5-2-1 averaging 3.63 goals for and 3.50 against for February. Toronto averages 3.39 goals with a Powerplay conversion rate of 25.26% on home ice.
Defenseman Jake Muzzin, who was very good against Pittsburgh, has been leaned upon heavily recently with injuries to a couple of the Leafs regular D men. Muzzin profiles as somewhat of a sneaky value play. He has 2G, 4A in his last four games as well as 18 blocks in his previous five.
Another “unsung hero-mid tiered” player is forward Zach Hyman. Hyman relishes for these big games and he will be ready for this one. In his last 17 games, Hyman has notched nine goals and nine assists.
If you want to dip into the pocketbook a little deeper look no further than the guy that scores a boatload of goals on home ice-Auston Matthews. An incredible 30 goals in 31 home games for number 34 this season.
Colorado Avalanche (34-18-7) at Los Angeles Kings (22-34-5)
The Kings can’t knock off the high-flying Avs twice in a row right? LA was victorious 3-1 in an outdoor game just a while back so Colorado should be more prepared against a Kings squad that keeps getting player plucked off the roster because of the imminent trade deadline. Gone are Tyler Toffoli, Kyle Clifford, and Alec Martinez. The Kings are just 3-6 while giving up 3.67 goals per contest this month.
A couple of big guns are still sidelined for the Avalanche in Nazem Kadri and Mikko Rantanen. In steps Andre Burakovsky and to a lesser degree, Valeri Nichushkin. Burakovsky has filled in well in a bigger role, he is set to slot into the first line as well as on the first powerplay unit.
Nichushkin slots up on the depth chart as well(second line) and will even get looks on the first PP unit.
Florida Panthers (32-23-6) at Vegas Golden Knights (32-22-8)
The Knights are in a nice groove this month, they have gone 6-2-1, averaging a fifth-best goals per game of 3.56. The Panthers, who are battling for a playoff spot, are just 4-7-1 this month while allowing a paltry 3.67 goals against. It could be rough for the Panthers as they will face a team that is 18-10-4 on home ice with a third-best pp rate of 29.1%. The Golden Knights also average a league-best 36.6 shots per game at home.
If you require high-priced wingers Max Pacioretty is your guy. He has seven goals and three assists in his last seven games. Patches is a shots on goal monster this year as well. Heading into Friday’s action, his 273 on the season ranks him second in the league to Alex Ovechkin‘s 282.
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