Saturday’s NHL Picks: Seeing Stars
The past few days in the NHL have been a little strange. The Zack Kassian incident, Bruce Boudreau's somewhat stunning dismissal in Minny, hey, even the San Jose Sharks got a win. At the end of the day you never really know what you're going to get when it comes to pro hockey.
With that said, you can make sure you're prepared and in the best position possible to make some loot when it comes to laying wagers. On to today where 11 games await, including five afternoon tilts. In terms of my picks, back-to-back weeks of 3-3 records have me wanting a lot more when it comes to consistency, so let's have a big day and put some coin in our pockets.
Playoff races are tightening across the league, which will obviously make for awesome action on the ice today. Make sure you dig into your research and good luck!
Side bets: 21-16
Overall total record: 37-35-1
L.A. Kings @ Colorado Avalanche – Pick: Avalanche (-1.5)
OK, here it is: The Kings are garbage. And before you start mashing buttons and getting heated, I know they just beat a good Calgary team only a few nights back. But I really think that was more of a flash-in-the-pan win than a sign of things to come. Take this in, the Kings are only 3-12-1 since the calendar flipped and own the dubious distinction of sitting last in the Western Conference in points (45), goal differential (minus-44), and goals scored (142). Woof.
On the other hand, the Avs are very much for real. Wins in eight of its last 10 have Colorado only two points adrift of the St. Louis Blues for the Western Conference lead and climbing. Now, two things have to be noted here. The first being the Kings' 6-2 record against the Avalanche over their last eight meetings and the second being this game will be played outdoors at the U.S. Air Force Academy. So you can expect both teams to be fired up to play on the big stage.
However, the Kings really struggle on the road with only one win in their last nine away from home and Colorado absolutely slapped them around in their most recent matchup a few weeks ago. Let's not overthink this one, shall we? The Avs bang out today by at least two goals.
Dallas Stars @ Montreal Canadiens – Pick: Stars
If you've watched much Dallas Stars hockey this season (yes, for some reason I have), you'll know the team is no longer a run-and-gun squad that shoots first and plays defense whenever it feels like it. With Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin forming a formidable duo in the blue paint and underrated cast of characters anchoring the blue line, Dallas has become a very tough team to play against. The Stars currently sit tied for least goals-against in the NHL along with the Boston Bruins at 144 allowed and sit three points back of the Western Conference lead.
It should be pointed out that Dallas' recent record against the Habs isn't going to instill a ton of confidence in a wager here (one win in their last seven in Montreal), but Dallas is starting to click with three straight wins against a trio of good teams in St. Louis, Carolina and Toronto.
Canadiens goaltender Carey Price owns a fairly pedestrian 6-6-0 record and .908 save percentage in 12 career starts against the Stars, and I have a feeling he might be in for a rough ride against a team I'm starting to really like as a darkhorse to contend for the Stanley Cup once the club is fully healthy. The Stars keep rolling tonight for my Silver play of the week.
Philadelphia Flyers @ Tampa Bay Lightning – Pick: Lightning
Week after week I keep betting on the Lightning, which might seem like a boring or 'safe' play. But when a team wins nine straight games and loses only three in two months overall, you keep hammering it until you have reason to do otherwise.
Now, the Flyers roll into South Florida playing some very solid hockey of their own of late. Philly boasts a 7-2-1 record over its last 10 and is currently holding down the top wild-card spot in the East only a point shy of the New York Islanders for the third and final Metro Division playoff spot. But, despite the strong showing overall recently, I'm still feeling the Bolts here to take their win streak to double digits – they are simply playing way too good right now to bet against.
These two teams played a tight one-goal game in their last meeting with Tampa squeaking out a 1-0 shutout victory a month back, but the Lightning have completely owned Philly of late, winning six straight contests. Carter Hart (confirmed as the starter for tonight's tilt) is back from injury and is playing solid right now, but this is still a great spot for the Lightning at home against a team they match up well against. Tampa takes this one for 10 in a row, my Bronze Pick of the week.
San Jose Sharks @ Minnesota Wild – Pick: Wild
Toronto Maple Leafs @ Ottawa Senators – Pick: Maple Leafs (-1.5)
Chicago Blackhawks @ Calgary Flames – Pick: Flames
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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