Saturday’s NHL Picks: Hockey Day In Canada
Last week was a bit of an up-and-down ride. I looked like I knew what I was talking about for a minute when I said the scoreboard would be getting a workout in the latest installment of the reinvigorated Battle of Alberta. But the Maple Leafs only won by a single goal against Ottawa and the Blues laid a complete egg getting slapped around by the Jets – so there is obvious room for improvement.
An overall .500 week isn’t too bad, but we’re here to pick winners and bank a bit of loot. So let’s get back at it for another week of Saturday picks with a 12-game schedule full of some juicy matchups to wager on. From a classic Original Six matchup in Montreal featuring the Buds and Habs to another all-Canadian showdown in Vancouver between the Canucks and Flames, Hockey Day in Canada is sure to please.
Enjoy the games and good luck.
Side bets: 19-15
Overall total record: 34-32-1
New York Islanders @ Tampa Bay Lightning – Pick: Lightning -1.5
After three straight weeks of wins for my Gold Pick, it’s been a rough ride with three straight weeks of tough losses. So I really can’t deny that I’m a bit rattled when it comes to putting a bigger bet down (which I actually do with these) with this play. Anyway, with that said, the first game that jumped off the board for me today was this one.
Tampa Bay is finally starting to look like the team we all expected to be sitting atop the Atlantic Division at season’s end – the team is loaded with offense talent up-and-down their balanced lineup. And with wins in six of their last seven (including five in row), the time is now to ride this train.
There is no denying the Islanders are a well-coached team that is tough to play against. But with the Lightning’s current streak and recent success against New York (Isles have only two wins in their last seven games in Tampa and only four in their last 15 meetings overall), I have to stick to my approach and take the Bolts. You won’t see much value in betting on T-Bay straight up, so make sure you hammer them on the puck-line to up your payout.
The Lightning continue their rapid ascent up the Eastern Conference standings with another big W, my Gold Pick of the week.
Calgary Flames @ Vancouver Canucks – Pick: Canucks
If you were to tell me at the start of this season there would be two – let alone three – Canadian teams in the mix for the top-three spots in the Pacific Division more than halfway through the campaign, I would have probably told you to take another sip of whatever strong beverage you were drinking. But, with 55-plus games already played for most clubs, the Canucks currently hold down the top spot, the Oilers sit in third and the Flames are lurking only five points back – so all three’s postseason chances are very real.
Now, when it comes to the Flames in town to face the Canucks tonight, we have two teams on three-games slumps, with Calgary posting only one win in its last six games. Vancouver dusted the Flames in their most-recent meeting in convincing 5-2 fashion, and with the Canucks’ stellar home record (17-5-3) and nine-game home win streak also playing heavy on my degenerate gambling mind, I really like this spot for Van City.
Mark Giordano remains on IR with a lower-body injury which is obviously been a huge blow to the Flames’ core, but budding Vancouver superstar Elias Pettersson is currently listed as questionable for tonight’s tilt, so the Canucks could also be dealing with some major injury issues. Either way, I’m feeling a big bounce-back win for Vancouver tonight to push the home streak to double digits. My Silver Pick of the week.
Toronto Maple Leafs @ Montreal Canadiens (Over/Under 6.5) – Pick: Over
OK, shoot me. I’m wagering on the Leafs game once again. But after doing some digging into this matchup, I think you can understand why an Over wager is the obvious and smart choice here. Aside from both clubs sitting in the top 10 in the NHL in goals allowed, their recent meetings are all you really need to look at to want to sprinkle on the Over.
A whopping 45 goals combined were scored between these two teams in in their last five meetings, with all five going over the number. Simply put, aside from a good ol’ fashioned Original Six rivalry and some chippy hockey, Leafs-Habs means one thing these days: goals, baby.
The Leafs are fresh off yet another high-scoring back-and-forth game on Friday night that saw them squeak out a 5-4 OT win, but Sheldon Keefe’s crew should have plenty of pep in their step for a classic Saturday night showdown against their bitter rival. I’ve been feeling the Overs lately and I like that bet here for this game tonight. Toronto-Montreal goes Over the number for my Bronze play of the week.
Pittsburgh Penguins @ Florida Panthers – Pick: Penguins
Colorado Avalanche @ Columbus Blue Jackets (Over/Under 5.5) – Pick: Over
Nashville Predators @ Edmonton Oilers – Pick: Oilers
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
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