NHL Preview 23-25/10

Nathan MacKinnon has found a rich vein of form, scoring 10 points from his last five games, and really hit the high notes in Colorado Avalanche’s two recent wins, bagging three points against both New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes.

Avalanche ready to hit Philadelphia

Gabriel Landeskog has benefitted the most from MacKinnon’s hot streak and should be attracting a lot of defensive interest from the Flyers, having scored five goals in the recent back-to-back wins.

Goaltender Philipp Grubauer put up some impressive numbers against the Hurricanes, saving 42 of 43 shots for a .977 save percentage, and he should give the defensemen plenty of confidence going up against a high-scoring unit in the Flyers.

Only one team has scored more than Philadelphia but only one team has conceded more as well and, having won 5-2 against them earlier this month, the Avs can upset the odds at 2.00 to join Nashville at the top of the Central Division.

Detroit trip the perfect tonic for Hurricanes

On the face of it, a three-game losing streak is hardly the confidence booster normally needed when considering a 1.68 favourite, particularly on the road, but that is unlikely to put off too many when the Detroit Red Wings are the opposition.

The Wings may be going into this game on the back of their first victory of the campaign, but that came against another struggling team, Florida Panthers, and it took overtime to achieve.

Some of the numbers that Carolina are putting up shot-wise are ridiculous, averaging 42.1 shots through their first eight games, with a mammoth 57 coming in their 5-4 win over Minnesota earlier this month.

The Hurricanes have also allowed the second fewest shots on goal, 24.9 shots per game, but their problem is actually putting the puck in the back of the net, with their shooting percentage ranked just 27th in the NHL while their powerplay is last at 6.7 percent.

Nothing lasts forever though and the NHL’s leakiest defence – Detroit having conceded 36 goals in their eight games – should be a welcome sight for Carolina as they look to maintain their place at the Metropolitan summit.

Predators face Sharks test

This looks a really mouth-watering match-up between two of the expected challengers for the Stanley Cup as the Nashville Predators host the San Jose Sharks.

There is arguably no hotter team right now than the Predators, winning five on the bounce, as they set the early pace for the Presidents’ Trophy atop the Central Division.

However, this appears to be their biggest test of the season so far with San Jose perhaps just starting to come to the boil after a slow start to the campaign.

Last year’s Vezina Trophy winner Pekka Rinne will be missing for the clash after suffering an injury in the 5-3 win at Calgary Flames last Friday, although Nashville should have no obvious problem in goal.

Juuse Saros saved all nine shots he faced in finishing off the game in Calgary before he enjoyed a 31-save shutout in a 3-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.

Saros is 4-0-0 with a .945 save percentage and the Predators defence will not be worried there may be a liability behind them as they look to lay down a marker in what could be a prelude to the Western Conference finals.

The Sharks may well take their time adjusting to the arrival of elite defenseman Erik Karlsson, and indeed have lost three times already this season, but they are a team that had perhaps just not been taking their chances.

However, back-to-back wins over Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders, scoring nine and conceding just two in those two games, should at least be a boost going into what should be a tough encounter, with the winner striking an early psychological blow in the Western Conference title race.