As we wind down the month of January, Sean takes a quick look around the NHL at some news and notes you can use in your daily handicapping.
Ready to sell?
The Ottawa Senators are a curious study as the trade deadline approaches (it's a little over a month away). This is a franchise that seems stuck somewhere between rebuilding and contending. The Sens got off to a better start to the season than most expected but have since gone in the tank, dropping six of their last eight games entering Wednesday's home clash with the Islanders. Over that stretch, Ottawa was shut out twice and held to a single goal on three other occasions. The Sens sit 13 points behind the last Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, albeit with four games-in-hand. There are likely too many teams to leap-frog to make a realistic run at the postseason so that begs the question; does Ottawa shift into sell-off mode? Guys like Claude Giroux and Alex DeBrincat were brought in during the offseason to provide some offensive punch (and have succeeded in doing so by most accounts) but likely aren't in the Sens future plans with Giroux looking to join a Stanley Cup contender as he winds down his career and DeBrincat an unlikely candidate to sign a long-term contract in Ottawa. Interestingly, the Sens next seven games including a pair of tilts with the Isles sandwiched around five games against Canadian opponents including a home-and-home series with the Canadiens.
The Carolina Hurricanes have rounded into form once again, winning four of their last five games, scoring five or more goals in three of those victories. That was a very manageable stretch, however, as three of the five games were played at home with the Canes were priced at -170 or higher in each and every contest. Now things get a lot tougher with a stop in Dallas on Wednesday followed by a three-game homestand that will include a showdown with the league's best team, the Boston Bruins. Note that nine of Carolina's next 12 games will be played in Raleigh, where it has gone 14-7 this season. The Canes are currently in a log-jam near the top of the Eastern Conference standings, sitting in a three-way tie for second place with the Devils and Maple Leafs.
'Over' the moon in Oil Country
It's easy to forget that the Edmonton Oilers reached the Western Conference Final last Spring before being brushed aside by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche. While it endured a fairly miserable two-month stretch from early November through early January, Edmonton has since turned it around, reeling off six consecutive wins to move within two points of the third-place Kraken in the Pacific Division. With that said, the Oilers hold on a playoff spot is tenuous at best as they're only three points clear of the 'first team out' Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference Wild Card hunt. It seems that the oddsmakers can't set Oilers totals high enough, noting that the 'over' is 32-14-2 in their 48 games this season. Edmonton has seen an average total of 6.9 goals scored yet we've seen a closing total of 7.0 on just seven occasions this season.
Kraken the whip
The Seattle Kraken have arguably been the most streaky team in the NHL this season. They reeled off five straight wins late October-early November and then proceeded to post seven consecutive victories starting with a win against the Rangers a little more than a week later. After a December swoon, the Kraken got rolling earlier this month, winning eight straight games from January 1st to 14th. Having lost three of its last four games and seeing its hold on the coveted third spot in the Pacific Division loosen considerably, Seattle will look to turn it around with each of its next three games coming at home. The problem is, the Kraken are 11-12 at Climate Pledge Arena this season, outscored by 0.1 goal on average along the way. They're averaging an impressive 3.6 goals per game overall this season but that average drops to 2.9 on home ice. It's worth noting that the Kraken have never defeated Wednesday's opponent, the Vancouver Canucks, in six previous meetings yet find themselves priced at -180 (at the time of writing).