NHL: Canadiens, Blackhawks, and Caps in Action on Friday

Al Dannity | Updated Jan 20, 2012

There are only four games in the NHL tonight but Al Dannity says they all carry a sense of intrigue as the All-Star break nears.

Great to be in the Original Six…unless you’re a Canadien This season has seen the best cumulative performance from the Original Six since 1974. As it stands, four of the top five teams in the NHL standings are Original Six franchises. The Red Wings lead the league, the Rangers and Blackhawks look rejuvenated, and the defending champion Bruins not far behind. Even Toronto looks good, narrowly outside the playoff places as things currently stand. The notable outlier is Montreal. At #25 out of 30, the Canadiens won’t be smiling as the business end of the season draws near.

NHL betting fans saw the Habs lay an egg earlier this week against the Capitals. Tonight the Penguins could prove just as difficult to break down. Pittsburgh is on a four game winning streak and I like the Pens to extend that to five tonight.

Time on the side of the Stars Right now Dallas sits at #10 in the Western Conference, 2 points out of the playoffs. Colorado, currently in the last playoff berth, has however played three games more than the Stars. Tonight Dallas can draw level with the Avalanche and still hold two games in hand. The Lightning sport a dismal 6-16-3 record on the road and look a shadow of the team that beat the Caps in the 2011 playoffs. I like the Stars to win on home ice.

Injured Panthers face tough trip Florida’s roster has taken a beating lately. There are five Panthers on injured reserve and Ed Jovanoski looks to be done for a couple of months. Despite those struggles, Florida has the look of a playoff team right now. By getting just enough results to stay in the hunt, this patchwork unit could yet make the post-season. That’s in the future and unfortunately tonight promises to deliver a tough lesson for Florida. Having a road trip with the hot Blackhawks is a tough test for any team at present. I like Chicago to take the win.

The Caps can keep on rolling The Capitals and Hurricanes have met three times this season and Washington has won all three. Following that shutout of the Canadiens, it’s safe to say the mojo is back after that terrible display against the Islanders. This has not been Carolina’s year by any stretch. I like the Capitals to win tonight.

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