Saturday’s NHL Picks: A Hurricane of New Faces
We're in the stretch run now, people. With less than 20 regular-season games remaining in the 2019-20 campaign, scoreboard watching season has officially arrived. Wild-card spots up for grabs in both conferences, division titles still far from decided, and no clear front-runner for the Presidents' Trophy will make for an extremely exciting end to this season.
Onto today's action where 12 games await. As always, I've got you with a Gold, Silver and Bronze pick, as well as a few side bets that I'm feeling. I won't lie, it's been a tough year in terms of picks, and with three weeks in a row of 3-3 showings, I'm obviously hoping for a strong finish to the year over the next month and a half.
Last night saw 10 teams in action, so make sure you know who's between the pipes tonight before laying a wager. Good luck and enjoy today's action.
Side bets: 22-18
Overall total record: 40-38-1
Dallas Stars @ St. Louis Blues (Over/Under 5.5) – Pick: Under
There's no denying the fact my Gold Picks have been a bit of a crapfest this year. A few close games and a few bad picks have my record sitting at a spot that I wish wasn't shared on the internet each week. But this is a new week with a new opportunity to pad the pocketbook. Now, this tilt between the Stars and Blues features two of the best teams in the league. And when it comes to gritty, defense-first hockey, few clubs do it better than Dallas and St. Louis – I think you can see where I am going with this.
Both the Blues and Stars sit in the top-10 in overall goals-against (Dallas second and St. Louis eighth), and six of the last seven matchups between these two have gone under the number, four of which were one-goal contests. This game screams low-scoring to me. From the defensive-minded approach from both coaches to a commitment to playing responsible hockey at both ends of the ice to the gritty nature of both rosters, I could see this game ending 2-1 or 3-2 in overtime or shootout.
Make sure you shop around a bit if you're betting online and get the total at 5.5. Dallas-St. Louis stays under the number, my Gold Pick of the week.
Carolina Hurricanes @ Montreal Canadiens – Pick: Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes came out as one of the big winners of this year's NHL trade deadline with the additions of Vincent Trocheck, Sami Vatanen, and Brady Skjei. The Canes are going for it, and with those moves complementing an already talented young core, I like the makeup of this team. Not to mention, you know how much I like betting against the Habs.
Tonight's matchup is likely to be a battle of the backups, as Charlie Lindgren is expected to be in net for Montreal and Alex Nedeljkovic for Carolina. So there isn't a ton of history to go on here in terms of netminders. However, it should be noted that Lindgren hasn't been very good this season, posting a shaky .880 save percentage and 3.49 goals-against average to go along with a 1-3-0 record. Sprinkle in the fact that the Hurricanes are 8-1 in their last nine games against the Canadiens, and I am really feeling this spot for a pesky Carolina team.
Montreal has been blowing leads with regularity and playing some sloppy hockey over the past two weeks, and I think that trend continues tonight. Take the Hurricanes, good for my Silver Pick of the week.
Vancouver Canucks @ Toronto Maple Leafs – Pick: Maple Leafs
After the most embarrassing performance in Toronto hockey history last week when the Leafs were beat on home ice by their own farm team's Zamboni driver, the Buds have bounced back with character wins against two tough Eastern Conference opponents in the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers. And with the Vancouver Canucks in town tonight for a big Hockey Night in Canada showdown, Toronto has another opportunity to solidify its hold on the third and final Atlantic Division playoff spot.
The Canucks are a good young team, but injuries to some key pieces (No. 1 goalie Jacob Markstrom and star forward Brock Boeser are both currently out) and poor away from home (14-16-2) have the Canucks ripe for the picking tonight on the road. Vancouver also struggles when playing in Toronto, losing five in a row at Scotiabank Arena.
That horrendous loss to Carolina was a low point for Toronto, there's no denying it. But with another win against a good opponent tonight, the Leafs can not only help silence the haters, but also put themselves in prime position heading into the most crucial portion of the season. Toronto should come out flying, so if you're feeling a prop bet here sprinkle a little something on the first period Over. Either way, the Leafs get the two points. My Bronze Pick of the week.
Buffalo Sabres @ Arizona Coyotes – Pick: Sabres
Detroit Red Wings @ Ottawa Senators – Pick: Senators
Pittsburgh Penguins @ San Jose Sharks – Pick: Penguins
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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