GAME: (15) NEW YORK ISLANDERS vs (16) VANCOUVER CANUCKS
PICKS: (16) VANCOUVER CANUCKS
REASON FOR PICK: This is a 1* Free Play on the Vancouver Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks squeaked out a massive win on Saturday and while it is still a long road to the playoffs for the team the win did a lot to the mental psyche and I think it makes it two in row with a very beatable opponent in the Islanders visiting. The Islanders are not a very good squad right now with injuries and deadline moves killing the team’s chances of really competing on a nightly basis. The Islanders blew two third period leads already on back to back nights coming into this game against two of the western conferences’ worst teams in Edmonton and Calgary and should find it just as hard here against a desperate Canucks team. "We needed to play,” Vancouver coach John Tortorella said after Saturday's 2-1 home win over Calgary. "We have to scratch, claw and grind and find points anyway possible." Vancouver has at least been beating most of the teams it should be this season with a 19-12 record versus teams with a losing record. This is the last game of three game western road trip for New York and you can bet the team is ready to head back home. Consider laying the decent price to get the home team in Vancouver here.
GAME: (509) ATLANTA HAWKS vs (510) UTAH JAZZ
PICKS: (510) UTAH JAZZ
REASON FOR PICK: East vs West here as the Hawks make their annual trek out west to play in Utah. The Hawks are holding onto that final playoff spot in the East, 2 1/2 games ahead of the Detroit Pistons and 3 1/2 ahead of New York and Cleveland. To show you the difference in the two conferences this season, if Atlanta was in the West with their 26-35 record they would be in 12th place just a few games head of Sacramento and Utah. But by virtue of being in the East, even being nine games under .500 still has them in a playoff spot. Still, the Hawks better improve their play of late, winning just one of their last 10 games and on a six-game losing streak. In fact, Atlanta has been so bad of late they have lost 14 of their last 15 games. They haven't been good to bettors either, covering just one of their last six games and going 2-12-1 their last 15 games. Meanwhile, Utah looks to stay out of the Western cellar, just one game ahead of the Lakers for that dubious spot. As bad as Atlanta has been, Utah hasn't been much better though they did win their last game out over the lowly Sixers, 104-82. So why get involved with two such losers? Because one of these teams is going to win and that team is Utah. The Jazz have are coming off a long road swing of six games and return home where they have won their last two, beating a good Phoenix club and the Celtics. In fact, at home, Utah has won four of their last six including a win over Miami. Someone has to win this one and that looks to be the Jazz. Your free play is on the Utah Jazz.