After a few days on IR with sickness and a few days spent recovering, I am back for my weekly installment of picks. Before my two-week hiatus I had back-to-back solid Saturdays, with my combined record going a respectable 9-3, so I am eager to get the picks rolling again today. Apologies if I left you hanging.
While the NHL has been a bit of a mess when it comes to off-ice issues of late, the season is nearing the half-way mark with a number of intriguing storylines to keep an eye on when it comes to wagering. Will the Bruins’ current losing skid be a sign of things to come? Are the Islanders for real? Do the Blues have a realistic shot at being back-to-back champs? Needless to say, the next few months of hockey are shaping up to be extremely enticing from both an entertainment and betting perspective.
With that said, we are set for a juicy day jam-packed full of matchups across the league today. With only two teams in action on Friday, the board is loaded with 14 games to bet on. Choose wisely and good luck.
Side bets: 11-11
Overall total record: 21-22
L.A. Kings @ Pittsburgh Penguins – Pick: Penguins
Heading into tonight’s tilt against the Penguins, the Kings sit tied for fourth-last in the league in scoring with only 82 total goals so far this season. While at the other end of the ice, L.A. doesn’t fare much better, as the hapless Kings have allowed the sixth-most goals-against with 106 over just 33 games. Bottom line: this team is not good.
However, it should be noted that the Kings are looking to earn their second three-game win streak of the year heading into tonight, but their previous two wins came against the New York Rangers and Anaheim Ducks, so those two victories need to be taken at face value. Another interesting stat for this matchup that can’t be ignored is the Penguins’ sparkling home record this season. Sid and the boys have the most home wins out of any group in the NHL this campaign with 14 to go along with only four regulation losses.
The Pens are heavily favored in this one so you won’t see much value betting on them straight up. Slap this play on a parlay and thank me later. Pittsburgh takes this one easily for my Gold Pick of the week.
Boston Bruins @ Florida Panthers (Over/Under: 6) – Pick: Under
As most of you who read this column know, every so often I tend to fall in love with an Over or Under, and this matchup between the Bruins and Panthers is shaping up to be one that I can’t help myself from wagering on the Under – for two main reasons.
The first being the Bruins’ recent track record against the Panthers in South Florida, as six of the last seven matchups between these two clubs have stayed under the number when the Cats are at home. The second being Boston netminder Tuukka Rask’s career numbers against Florida: the Finnish goaltender has absolutely stellar numbers against the Panthers over his Hall-of-Fame-caliber career, which include a 22-6-2 record (most wins against any club), .939 save percentage, 1.78 goals-against average and 4 shutouts across 30 games.
Both clubs have been playing low-scoring, tight-checking hockey of late and I see that continuing tonight with another game staying under the total. Shop around a little before puck drop if you are betting online and see if the total creeps up to 6.5. Either way, the Under between the Bruins and Panthers is my Silver play of the week.
Vancouver Canucks @ San Jose Sharks – Pick: Sharks
Betting on any team in the midst of a solid losing skid is always a bold move, especially one that’s been struggling to light the lamp like the Sharks currently are. But I am feeling a bit spicy today and I really like this spot for a big bounce-back win for a San Jose group in dire need of two points.
When it comes to this matchup, the Sharks historically fare well, as the Canucks have only three wins in their last 18 games against San Jose, including only one win in their last eight in the Shark Tank. Another thing to keep in mind here is San Jose’s starter (although he’s looked like a shell of his former self) Martin Jones will be riding the pine in favor of No. 2 Aaron Dell, who has been marginally better this season. So I will take that.
These two clubs are trending in opposite directions, and there is no denying the budding superstar talent that Vancouver owns upfront in Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat. But the Sharks’ season is quickly slipping away and I expect a desperate performance tonight on their own ice only three days after their head coach Pete DeBoer took the fall for the team’s poor start. Take San Jose in a tight one-goal game. My Bronze Pick of the week.
New Jersey Devils @ Arizona Coyotes – Pick: Coyotes
Chicago Blackhawks @ St. Louis Blues – Pick: Blues
Detroit Red Wings @ Montreal Canadiens – Pick: Red Wings
Flip Livingstone is a former NHL writer for theScore with past experience at such outlets as Narcity Media, Postmedia, and Hockey Night in Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @FlipLivingstone and @Flips_Picks