Joel Dorcas | March 3rd, 2020
The calendar has flipped over to March which means we have only about a month of the regular season left. The action is only going to intensify from here on out so buckle down and enjoy the ride. Tonight is a typical full schedule. My focus will be on three teams who line up really well in their respective matchups. If you’re ready, join me to make some selections for today’s Ice Picks!
Ottawa Senators (23-31-12) at Pittsburgh Penguins (37-21-6)
What is going on with the Penguins lately? They will head into this home matchup to the lowly Senators having dropped six straight contests. We aren’t going to ignore the struggles but we aren’t going to leave this one off the board either. This game is a perfect time for the Pens to rebound and get their season back on track. They carry an impressive 22-6-4 home record with a GF/GM average of 3.44 along with a dynamite PP conversion rate of 24%.
The visiting Sens carry a brutal 6-18-6 road record and are giving up 3.67 goals per road contest. Their PK rate clicks in at just 73.7% away from home. In their last 10 games, they are allowing 3.30 goals per game and are killing penalties at a rate of only 60.9%.
Because of the Penguins being in such a funk, there are no players that stand out. Newly acquired winger Jason Zucker has fit in nicely since joining the club 10 games ago. During this time he has produced five goals and two assists.
When we have the Penguins featured we usually point out Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, why would tonight be any different? Crosby gets the slight edge here because of the ice time comparison over the last 10 games. Crosby is averaging just over 20 minutes per contest whereas Malkin is just over 17.
New Jersey Devils (26-27-12) at Vegas Golden Knights (36-23-8)
Despite the 4-1 loss to the L.A. Kings Sunday, the Golden Knights are riding extremely high. They went an impressive 10-2-1 with a goals per game mark of 3.85 for February. They had reeled off eight straight before the set back to the Kings.
New Jersey will enter this one having played much better of late, they will need to bring their A-game into a hostile Vegas environment. Jersey averages 3.30 goals against per game on the road as well as 34.6 shots against per contest.
Vegas is averaging 3.36 goals per game, 36 shots, and a PP conversion rate of 28.4% at home.
Jonathan Marchessault will be a player who projects well in this one, especially with fellow winger Mark Stone sidelined due to injury. Marchessault has a team-leading 44 shots on target over the last 10 games, but just two goals and four assists. Prime powerplay minutes and first-line minutes could open things up.
The team’s hottest forward over the last five games is center William Karlsson. Karlsson has produced four goals over the period and is a player that won’t break the bank but has just as much upside as virtually any center on the slate.
Toronto Maple Leafs (35-23-8) at San Jose Sharks (28-33-4)
The Leafs are all of the sudden on a mini-hot streak. Let’s see if they can stay the course and not revert to the Leafs that like to self-destruct (something that we have seen many times this season). Toronto is clicking offensively lately as they have been good for 4.00 goals per contest in their previous five. On the road, they average 3.64 goals which are more than the season-long total(home and away) average of 3.50.
San Jose enters this one with a 26th ranked 3.20 GA/GM average. They have had a difficult time handling the “buds” as they are 0-4 in the head-to-head dating back to the 2018 season.
With all the fan-phare going to Austin Matthews, take a second to consider John Tavares. He is priced considerably lower than Matthews (almost 2K on DK). Tavares shoots the puck a lot and has been putting up points, 3G, 4A in his last five.
Although he isn’t featured on PP 1, Kasperi Kapanen should be on our radar. He has been playing some inspired hockey of late and is completely engaged. 13 shots, 2G, 2A in his last five only tells part of the story. A hot streak feels like it’s on the horizon.
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