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NHL Preview (Mar. 12)

With 11 games on the NHL slate on Tuesday evening, there’s plenty to keep bettors busy. Top of the pile is an Eastern Conference showdown between Boston and Pittsburgh, while Anaheim’s trip to Minnesota will headline Western Conference action.

Boston Bruins at Pittsburgh Penguins

Sidney Crosby will look to lead the Penguins to a sixth straight win, even without Evgeni Malkin.

Sidney Crosby will look to lead the Penguins to a sixth straight win, even without Evgeni Malkin.

Two of the Eastern Conference’s best teams meet for the first time this season on Tuesday as the Bruins travel to the Steel City to take on the Penguins.

With a win, Boston (17-3-3, 9-1-2 road) will not only take a one-point lead over the idle Montreal Canadiens in the Northeast Division but also move in to the No. 1 spot in the conference. A win for the Penguins though will send Pittsburgh (18-8-0, 7-4-0 home) into top spot in the East.

Pittsburgh will be without last season’s Hart Memorial trophy winner, Evgeni Malkin, for a second straight game after the center was injured during Saturday’s 5-4 shootout win in Toronto. Malkin, who missed time last month with concussion symptoms, is expected to be missing for at least a week.

Fortunately for Pittsburgh, the Penguins have Sidney Crosby to turn to. Crosby currently leads the league with 45 points (12 goals, 33 assists). The team also had the best goal scoring record (3.7 per game) in the league and is ranked No. 3 in power play percentage (26.0%).

The Penguins will be looking to win a sixth straight, and eighth in 10, game as well as a fifth straight at Consol Energy Center.

Boston however has won three straight and eight of the last 10, as well as five of the last six on the road. In fact, the Bruins have lost only one road game in regulation all season, so this will be one tough test for the Penguins.

Despite the absence of Malkin and Boston’s stellar road form, Pittsburgh (-136) is favored over the Bruins (+124) on the moneyline.

Anaheim Ducks at Minnesota Wild

Much improved of late, Minnesota will look to fend off Anaheim on Tuesday night.

Much improved of late, Minnesota will look to fend off Anaheim on Tuesday night.

Having taken seven wins from the last 10 games, Minnesota (13-9-2, 9-2-1 home) has edged out Vancouver for the lead in the Northwest Division. Of course, with both teams tallying 28 points so far this season, that lead isn’t exactly secure.

The Wild hosts Anaheim (18-3-3, 7-2-3 road) on Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center. The Ducks currently hold the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, sitting six points behind Chicago with two games in hand.

Bruce Boudreau’s side suffered a minor setback last week, losing a pair of shootout games to Phoenix. Since, the Ducks have secured three straight wins. That makes it 11 from the last 13.

However, Anaheim has struggled on the road recently, dropping three straight (including that pair in Phoenix). The side will hope to stop the rot in St. Paul on Tuesday.

The Wild’s good run of form includes four straight, and five from the last six, home wins. The side’s No. 4 ranked penalty killing unit (86.5%) will face a stiff challenge from the Duck’s No. 1 rated power play attack (27.8%) though. Anaheim is also the third highest scoring team in the league with 3.4 goals per game.

Anaheim has beaten Minnesota twice already this season, with both games being played at the Honda Center in Orange County. The two sides split a four game regular season series 2-2 last season, bizarrely with both teams only winning on the road.

Despite all of this, Minnesota (-110) is marginally favored over Anaheim (+100) on the moneyline.

Around the League

With 11 wins from 14 games, and all in regulation, Los Angeles (14-8-2, 5-6-1 road) is beginning to look like a defending Stanley Cup champion. The Kings have moved up to No. 4 in the overcrowded Western Conference playoff picture and will look to gain ground on Anaheim. The side visits Phoenix (12-10-3, 9-5-1 home) on Tuesday night to take on a Coyotes side that is just one-point removed from the playoff berths. The Coyotes (-110) are favored over the Kings (+100) in this big Pacific Division showdown.

With 28 points apiece, San Jose (11-7-6, 4-6-2 road) and St. Louis (13-10-2, 5-5-1 home) are also in the thick of the playoff hunt. The two sides will clash for the final time this regular season on Tuesday, as the Sharks travel to the Archway City. The Blues (-136) are favored over the Sharks (+124) on the moneyline.

Back east, the New York Rangers (13-9-2, 4-4-1 road) will look to make it six wins in seven games as they travel to in-state rivals, Buffalo (9-14-3, 4-6-1 home). Whilst the Rangers have been inconsistent, the Sabres have struggled consistently, and currently sit just one-point above Florida for the worst record in the league. The Rangers (-126) are expected to take advantage of the poor form of Buffalo (+114).

Tuesday’s NHL Schedule (in full)

NY Rangers at Buffalo

Carolina at Washington

Vancouver at Columbus

Boston at Pittsburgh

Tampa Bay at Florida

Toronto at Winnipeg

San Jose at St. Louis

Anaheim at Minnesota

Nashville at Dallas

Edmonton at Colorado

Los Angeles at Phoenix

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