Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:45 AM EST.
7:05 PM EST. OT included. The Flyers were quiet at the deadline in terms of activity with their lone move being the waiver claim of Johnny Oduya from Ottawa. GM Ron Hextall told reporters, including Dave Isaac of the Courier-Post, that their position in the standings wasn’t going to dictate how aggressive they were going to be. Winger Wayne Simmonds is out for another seven-to-10 days while net-minder Brian Elliott is expected to return at some point before the postseason.
For now, Philadelphia is the hottest team in the NHL, as they have picked up points in 12 straight games with 10 victories and two OT losses over that stretch. The Flyers are playing well and there is no question that the biggest reason for their hot streak is a commitment to stay out of the box. Coach Dave Hakstol has likely been pounding that into their head for weeks and a close look confirms that. Over their past 10 games, Philadelphia has taken a mere 15 minors. In five of those games they took one minor or less and only once over that span did they have to kill more than two penalties in a game. That’s great discipline and strategy that other coaches may pick up on real soon. That said, the Flyers aren’t good enough to be going 12 games without a regulation loss. Seven of those 12 games went into OT so we could just as easily be discussing a .500 record or worse over their past dozen games. Over their 12-game point streak during 5v5 play, the Flyers rank 22nd in xGF/60 and 15th in Corsi For %. They Flyers are on the playoff bubble even after this fortunate run, which is probably where they should be, as they are a middle of the pack team. Look, we take nothing away from Philadelphia for playing hard, working hard and putting together a run but it’s not sustainable and aside from goaltending, they’re the second best team here. Lastly, the Flyers just played two games on the road in Montreal and Ottawa. They return home for this one game before heading out again to play at Tampa Bay and Florida. It’s what we call a “trouble spot”.
The following is an excerpt from a local writer that covers the Hurricanes:
“It’s time, Tom Dundon.
Blow it up. Blow it all up. Bill Peters? Ron Francis? Anyone who has been here for more than ten minutes? They all need to be on the chopping block.
The NHL’s trade deadline passed Monday afternoon at 3:00, and the Hurricanes did next to nothing. No waiver claims. No call-ups. One trade, Josh Jooris to the Penguins for Greg McKegg, that almost seems more like a thumb in the eye to a long-suffering fan base than it does a move to actually improve the team.
It’s past the point that we can give Francis even the benefit of the doubt. After listening to him and Peters say for five months that the team, as constructed, can make the playoffs, then watched that team do everything in their power to prove their coach and general manager wrong, the Canes’ brain trust doubled down, inexplicably.
If you want to make the case that Francis shouldn’t buy, given the inflated prices on the market today (Ryan Hartman moved for a first-rounder, for heaven’s sake), fine. If you want to make the case that Francis shouldn’t sell, given that they’re just out of the playoffs and are one winning streak away from being right back in it, fine. But both of those can’t be true. Francis sat on his hands Monday. He didn’t improve his team, either now or for the future. And that’s inexcusable. What gives Francis the impression that the team as currently constructed can make the playoffs? This season is four months old. You are who you are. And the Hurricanes, right now, are not a playoff team, nor will they be when the first weekend of April rolls around.
This next excerpt is from the Hockey Writers:
The Carolina Hurricanes are not playoff worthy. The gods of hockey have seen fit to forgive their many disappointing displays this season and allowed them to remain within striking distance of a wild card spot. But, the Hurricanes have shown no reason for that grace to continue, and barring a miracle, will not make the playoffs again. It’s a tale that has been recited repeatedly in the past several years that has not had a happy ending. Anyone with a grasp of reality can write this story. It’s painful and will likely be written multiple times. With all they have had within their grasp, the Hurricanes are still empty-handed. The fans are disappointed and the coach may be out of a job. The general manager, Ron Francis has stayed quiet, and essentially left the team to its own devices, to sink or swim without interference or help from management. No one is surprised, although many hoped and looked for Francis to do something since the team was and is still close to a postseason berth.
Are these people serious? Do they not watch the Hurricanes play? There is one explanation for Carolina’s woes and it’s not because of their coach or GM. The Hurricanes dominate play often. They have more OT losses over the past three years than any team in hockey and deserved to make the playoffs every year. The issue of course is goaltending but Francis cannot be blamed. He went out and signed Eddie Lack to a big contract after Lack had some great years in Vancouver. Lack turned into the worst goaltender in the NHL as soon as he arrived in Carolina. This past off-season, Francis tried to address the situation again by signing Scott Darling, another goalie who had some great years as a backup but that blew up too. Cam Ward is below average and has been for years.
Goaltending decides more games than anything else. Without it, you cannot win in this league. The above excerpts are hogwash. We could give you example after example of weak goaltending costing teams everything. Last year Tampa Bay missed the playoffs and this year they are in first place with essentially the same team. Why? Ever since Corey Crawford went down, Chicago keeps losing. With outstanding talent, Winnipeg has missed the playoffs two years in a row but this year they are a virtual lock to get in. Why? Calgary is in a position to make the playoffs this year. Why? Remember a couple years ago when the Wild fired Mike Yao? Soon afterwards they picked up Devan Dubnyk and have been winning ever since. Why? The St. Louis Blues are on a seven game losing streak. Why? All these writers are so hung up on results that they don’t see what is right in front of them. Carolina is a great collection of pure talent with brutal goaltending that the GM tried to fix. It has nothing to do with Bill Peters. He is a great coach with no goaltender.
Ron Francis has done an outstanding job in Carolina. He has put together a tough, talented and often dominating team but those soft goals deflate the entire bench. If Tampa Bay had Cam Ward and Scott Darling, they would be where the ‘Canes are now and if Carolina had Andrei Vasilevskiy they would be one of the cup favorites. Carolina’s only problem is goaltending. Period. End of story. When the goaltending is adequate, they win and we’re willing to gamble here that they’ll respond to all the harsh criticism thrown their way. Carolina does not have a new goaltender here so that risk is still there but they are very worthy of getting behind in certain spots and this is one of them with Jordan Staal rejoining the team. It’s rally time for the Hurricanes and this is as good a spot for them as any all year.
Open an account today at Pinnacle Sports and take advantage of their -104 style pricing on sides and totals, which is 60% better than other sportsbooks.
Carolina +130 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.60)