With the Montreal Canadiens axing their head coach and the Arizona Coyotes agreeing to rink-share with an NCAA team, it’s been a busy week in hockey and the action shows no signs of slowing down. On Superbowl Sunday, there are four matinee games on the NHL’s schedule – including a primetime showdown between the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche.
In this weekend’s NHL Sunday Preview, Luke James provides pre-game analysis for the entire fixture list – breaking down key talking points from across the league.
Dallas Stars versus Colorado Avalanche, 19:00 on FreeSports
FreeSports couldn’t have picked a better fixture to showcase this weekend, Sunday’s game between Dallas and Colorado promises to be an electric affair between two teams with tonnes to play for.
Jared Bednar’s Avalanche are excellent, they’re top of the NHL with a .778 points percentage, and hold a 33-8-4 record on the season. Star defenceman Cale Makar is producing offence at a terrifying rate (18 goals, 26 assists in 41 games) while forward Nazem Kadri ranks fourth in the league for points (61).
GO OFF, CALE MAKAR. 😳🤯
— NHL (@NHL) January 5, 2022
Dallas, meanwhile, face an intense battle to make the playoffs. As it stands, Rick Bowness’ side are three points back from a wildcard spot in the Western Conference and face stiff competition from the Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks, and St Louis Blues.
On the Stars, Jason Robertson is the player to watch. The 22-year-old has 44 points (20 goals, 24 assists) in 37 appearances and has played a key role for Dallas this season. Braden Holtby is slated to start in net.
Money Puck forecasts an Avalanche victory – although their 51.9% chance of winning is about as slim as it gets.
New Jersey Devils versus Pittsburgh Penguins, 18:30 on PremierSports 2
According to Money Puck, the Pittsburgh Penguins are favourites to beat the New Jersey Devils on the road.
The Pens are 6-1-3 over their last 10 games, averaging 3.4 goals per game and a .921 save percentage (SV%). New Jersey, on the other hand, head into Sunday’s clash with a 3-7-0 record and an average SV% of .881. Also of note, Sidney Crosby has seven goals and nine assists over his last 10 appearances for Pittsburgh, making him one of the NHL’s most in-form players. New Jersey’s most productive player of late, Damon Severson, has one goal and 10 assists over his last 10 games.
Trevor Zegras on Sidney Crosby: “He's the best. He was always the best. He's been the face of the NHL for 15 years. To get to play against him was hilarious, it almost didn't feel real, you know?”
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 8, 2022
Both teams are without key players, Jack Hughes (ill) misses out for the Devils while Evgeni Malkin (COVID-19) and Teddy Blueger (upper-body) won’t feature for the Penguins. If Pittsburgh can exploit New Jersey’s shaky goaltending, this is a game they should win.
Montreal Canadiens versus Buffalo Sabres, 17:30 on NHL Network
Canadiens GM Kent Hughes broke the internet on Wednesday by sacking Dominique Ducharme and replacing him with little known pee-wee coach (and Hockey Hall of Famer) Martin St. Louis. Montreal’s coaching shake-up came a day after they lost 7-1 to the New Jersey Devils, ‘enough is enough’ the Canadiens thought.
Though winless behind the Habs bench through two games, St Louis has already made a mark in Montreal. The Canadiens played well in defeat against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday – and would’ve earned at least a point had they not conceded a power play goal with seven seconds left on the clock.
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) February 12, 2022
The Buffalo Sabres, remarkably, have outperformed expectations this year. They’re still a bottom-four team in the NHL (above Montreal, Arizona, and the Seattle Kraken) but Rasmus Dahlin and Co. have made some positive strides this year.
Frankly, these teams only have pride left to play for this season. As a result, I expect Montreal to walk away with two points from this one. They’re playing with more energy under St. Louis and that should be enough.
Washington Capitals versus Ottawa Senators, 17:30 on NHL Network
Peter Laviolette’s Washington Capitals started the season brilliantly, taking injuries in their stride on route to topping the Metropolitan Division. However, the Caps have endured a poor spell since New Years’ Day (they’re 6-8-2 in 2022) and are playing under a cloud now.
Unfortunately for the Ottawa Senators, their season was over before it started. The Sens, despite entering 2021-22 hoping to challenge for a spot in the playoffs, are 16-24-4 on the season and just haven’t clicked.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 12, 2022
With those factors in mind, it’s no surprise that Money Puck gives the Capitals a 63.3% chance of winning on Sunday. Alex Ovechkin, back in the Washington line-up following his spell in COVID Protocol, will play a key role for the home side as he continues his chase for the Hart Trophy. The Senators will look to Brady Tkachuk for inspiration. He has 32 points (14 goals, 18 assists) in 40 games this term.
After reading BIH’s NHL Sunday Preview, which teams are you backing to win? Reply in the comments.