The streaking Boston Bruins will host the hot, Washington Capitals in a potential Eastern Conference finals showdown on Thursday. Across the country, the incendiary Vegas Golden Knights will host a slightly less hot San Jose Sharks team in another intriguing pairing featuring two legitimate Western Conference Stanley Cup hopefuls.
With two fantastic matchups on tap for NHL Thursday Night, let’s find out what’s going to go down in both affairs.
Washington has gone 6-3-1 over their last 10 games and the Caps come into this affair riding a two-game winning streak that includes a solid 5-3 win over Philadelphia on Tuesday. Jakub Vrana scored twice to set a career high in goals and added an assist to lead the Capitals to victory.
“In my situation, I always feel like I can work on something,” said the 22-year-old Vrana. “I can always get better. It either is the defensive zone or whatever, the sometimes mental game. It’s little things you can always work on, and I just try to improve every day, work on my game and try to get better.”
The Caps average a fantastic 3.5 goals per game to rank sixth in scoring while giving up 2.9 goals per game defensively (16th). More importantly, Washington has gone a blistering 13-6-2 on the road this season.
Boston has gone a blistering 8-2 over their last 10 games and they’ll ride the wave of a five-game winning streak into this contest that includes a 4-0 shutout win over Minnesota on Tuesday. Tuukka Rask stopped 24 shots to get his 250th career win.
“Our team defense the past few games has been very good and I think it shows on the scoreboard and in the points,” Rask said. “We’re eliminating the offense of the opposing team very well and then getting rewarded at the other end. That’s a great sign.”
The Bruins average a modest 2.9 goals per game (), but they also limit the opposition to just 2.6 goals per game to rank a stellar second in goals allowed. Boston has gone an impressive 16-5 at home this season.
While Boston has won five straight, the Bruins narrowly got past Buffalo (twice) and Chicago in a trio of one-goal games along the way and that leads me to believe that Washington’s explosive offense will be able to scratch out the narrow – and a statement-making road win in this contest.
While Boston has gone 5-0 in their last 5 games, and 6-1 in their last 7 after allowing 2 goals or less in their previous game, Washington has gone 14-3 in their last 17 games following a win and a bankroll-boosting 28-11 in their last 39 road games. More importantly, the Capitals have pretty much owned the Bruins by going a commanding 22-6 in the last 28 meetings against the Bruins and a perfect 6-0 in the last 6 road dates against the Bruins. I’m feeling Alexander Ovechkin and the defending Stanley Cup champion Caps in this one!
Predicted Score: Washington Capitals 2 | Boston Bruins 1
San Jose has gone an encouraging 6-2-1 over their last 10 games and the Sharks will ride into this affair feeling good after winning four straight, including an emphatic 7-2 win over Edmonton on Tuesday night. Evander Kane and Joonas Donskoi each scored two goals in the win while defenseman Erik Karlsson added three assists.
“To be honest, he’s not really shocking many of us,” Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon said of Karlsson. “We’re lucky enough to see him every day at the practice rink. Just a special, special player.”
San Jose averages a stellar 3.6 goals per game to rank fourth in scoring while allowing a generous 3.0 goals per game defensively (18th). The Sharks have gone 10-9-2-1 on the road this season.
Vegas has gone a near-perfect 8-0-2 over their last 10 games and the Knights are riding a fantastic seven-game winning streak into this one that includes a solid 4-2 win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday. Veteran goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and forward Jonathan Marchessault led the way to victory as Fleury made 27 saves and Marchessault scored his third game-winning goal of the season.
“We knew this team had a few rough nights before coming here. Usually when that happens, teams rise up to the challenge and play hard and play a good game,” said Fleury, who leads the NHL with 25 wins and 39 starts this season. “We had to respect them. Every team is good in the league, every team has speed and can play hard, so you’ve got to respect everybody and I thought we did tonight.”
The Knights average 3.0 goals per game () while limiting the opposition to just 2.6 goals per game to rank an encouraging third in goals allowed. Vegas has gone a stellar 15-3-2 at home this season.
San Jose is playing excellent hockey and they’ll contend for something once the postseason rolls around. Having said that, the Vegas Knights are clearly the better team at both ends of the ice. The defending Western Conference champs have not allowed more than two goals in each of their last seven games while limiting the opposition to one goal or less in four of those contests.
Vegas has gone 4-1 in the last five meetings against San Jose and a near-perfect 5-1 in their last six home dates against the Sharks. The Golden Knights win by two goals to get it done against the Puck Line!
Predicted Score: San Jose Sharks 2 | Vegas Golden Knights 4
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