Saturday’s NHL Picks: March 23, 2019
Apologies for leaving everyone in the lurch for picks last week, but, barring any more unforeseen circumstances, I will be good to go for our last couple weeks of games. Thankfully, before my short hiatus, my picks were really starting to heat up. My last two Saturdays’ worth of picks went a total of 11-1, including March 9, when I had my third perfect day of the year.
OK, enough with the self-pumping of tires and let’s get down to the nitty gritty: the playoff bubble in both conferences are making for some very intriguing matchups down the stretch. We have the classic scenarios of teams with something to play for fighting for their playoff lives, and many others – with zero on the line except draft positioning – looking to play spoiler.
An absolutely stacked board of 14 games awaits us today, including four afternoon affairs. With only four teams in action last night, we could be in for a very exciting day of high-scoring hockey. Strap on your boots, make sure your bankroll is on point, and let’s get this paper.
Side Bets: 22-23
Overall combined: 51-39 (56%)
New York Rangers @ Toronto Maple Leafs – Pick: Maple Leafs
All has not exactly been well in Leafs land over the past few weeks, as injuries, questionable coaching/front-office decisions, and poor play at both ends of the ice have seen Toronto manage only five wins in its last ten while struggling to string together consistent performances.
All that aside, the Buds are basically locked into a first-round showdown with the Boston Bruins in a few weeks, so you can’t really blame Mike Babcock and Co. for playing the long game and focusing on the big prize. Still, the Rangers come into town having lost four of their last five in the Big Smoke, and New York has been a mess all season. Especially after the deadline, when the team has looked like a shell of its former self.
The Rangers are in the midst of a four-game slide and Toronto will be looking to round into form ahead of the postseason and shake off their recent form. Take the Leafs at home in a favorable spot. My Gold pick of the week.
Boston Bruins @ Florida Panthers – Pick: Bruins
Speaking of those pesky Bruins, they head into Florida tonight with the opportunity to basically lock up second place in the Atlantic Division and secure home ice in the process. An obviously huge advantage that should have the B’s firing on all cylinders against a disappointing Panthers’ group that was supposed to be contending for a postseason berth this campaign.
That hasn’t exactly panned out, as inconsistent goaltending and injuries to key pieces have seen Florida toil near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings for much of the 2018-19 season.
Boston has only managed two wins in its last six against the Panthers, but with something to play for, I have to lean to the Bruins for the W here. Boston locks up home-ice advantage and takes the two points in Florida. Book it.
Detroit Red Wings @ Vegas Golden Knights – Pick: Golden Knights
Don’t look now, but the Vegas Golden Knights are the hottest team in the NHL at the most opportune time of the year. The Knights are on absolute fire right now, winning nine of their last 10 while basically punching their postseason ticket by holding down the third and final Pacific Division playoff spot.
Trade-deadline addition Mark Stone has been critical to Vegas’ resurgence, as his four goals and four assists in eight games have helped the Knights to an 8-1-0 record since he joined the club from the Ottawa Senators. With a win against the lowly Red Wings tonight, Vegas can basically lock up their second consecutive playoff berth, so expect the Knights to come out flying in front of their rabid home fans.
Detroit has nothing to play for and Vegas is playing its best hockey of the season. Do you really need to hear more? Hammer the Knights for my Bronze play of the week.
Pittsburgh Penguins @ Dallas Stars – Pick: Penguins
Tampa Bay Lightning @ St. Louis Blues – Pick: Over 6
Buffalo Sabres @ Montreal Canadiens – Pick: Canadiens
Flip Livingstone is a former NHL writer for theScore with past experience at such outlets as Postmedia, Hockey Night in Canada, and the CBC. You can follow him on Twitter @FlipLivingstone.
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