Saturday’s NHL Picks: Edmonton Express
We're back, baby! After seemingly a lifetime without hockey, the NHL is returning in a big way. With the two hub cities running games out of Edmonton and Toronto basically all-day long for the first week of the league's return-to-play schedule, there is plenty of opportunity here to lay wagers and soak up some action of the game we so sorely missed.
I ended the regular season on a high note in terms of picks, bringing my overall record to 46-44-1 with lots of room to improve – as always. Regardless, it's time to lock in and get serious, as the hockey we're about to dig into will be anything from predictable. So do your research and tread lightly with the bets to start.
With that in mind, I'll be serving up picks every single day over the coming weeks, so make sure you keep it locked to Dobber Hockey and follow along on Twitter @Flips_Picks and @DobberHockey. Good luck, enjoy the games (five in total today), and let's get this paper.
2019-2020 overall record
Side bets: 24-22
Overall total record: 46-44-1
Chicago Blackhawks @ Edmonton Oilers – Pick: Oilers
Heading into the league's shutdown in mid-March, the Oilers were playing solid hockey, earning points in seven of their last 10 games to sit only three points adrift from the Vegas Golden Knights and top spot in the ever-tough Pacific Division. Now, before I go in on why I really LOVE Edmonton to not only win this game but also the series, I have to give the Blackhawks a spot of credit due to their stronger showing in March, as they won six of their last 10 contests – including a 4-3 W over these very same Oilers. Stay with me, though.
Now, you can never fully count out the Stanley Cup-caliber superstars in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews upfront for Chi-Town, but Edmonton has two distinct advantages that have me wanting to break the bank on a big bet in this game and series on the Oilers.
The first being a distinct strength up the middle. The Oilers top-three centermen of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Riley Sheahan comprise a formidable trio that should not only provide a lethal dose of offense, but also puck possession, a combo that could be too much for Chicago to handle. The second is an advantage between the pipes. As much as I respect Corey Crawford for what he's accomplished in his career, the edge goes to Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen, a duo that, with the right play in front of them, can string together wins in a hurry.
Hammer the Oilers today, in this game and the series. Thank me later.
Florida Panthers @ New York Islanders (Over/Under 5.5) – Pick: Under
If there's one thing you can count on in this matchup, it's the New York Islanders being well-prepared and ready to play their game; and that game is to give the opposition's offense fits. Tied for the fourth-least goals-against in the NHL during the regular season, the Isles pride themselves on playing a stingy, tight-checking brand of hockey – much indicative of their General Manager Lou Lamoriello and head coach Barry Trotz.
Looking at this one as objectively as possible, it really feels like an Under play. An afternoon start, first game in the bubble set-up for two teams that don't really have much of a rivalry, this might be a snoozer to watch but a lovely spot to sprinkle a wager on the Under. Oh, I should mention, New York held Florida to only five goals over their last four regular-season meetings, with all four matchups going Under the number.
I could see this one ending in a tight 2-1, or 3-1 fashion, with scoring being at premium early on. Take the Under here, good for my Silver Pick of day.
Winnipeg Jets @ Calgary Flames – Pick: Flames
The late tilt on the NHL's opening slate of games potentially offers the most intrigue, as both the Jets and the Flames left a lot to be desired over the past two seasons. Disappointments, under achieving and downright poor play has the pressure on both of these talented forward groups to perform and move past the qualifying round.
When it comes to the recent head-to-head trends, the edge goes to Calgary, as the Flames have a strong road record against Winnipeg with wins in six of the last seven meetings. Sure, this might not exactly be a home game for Calgary, but it's as close as it's going to get, and that comfort level of playing only a short flight from home can't be ignored in such a shortened format.
The Flames got completely embarrassed last postseason in the first round against Colorado, with their top offensive duo of Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan combining for a measly one goal and three points, so I like the revenge angle here for two players with the ability to take over a best-of-five scenario.
This will be a close game and series, but I like the Flames to take the opener. My Bronze play of the day.
Montreal Canadiens @ Pittsburgh Penguins – Pick: Canadiens +1.5
Florida Panthers @ New York Islanders – Pick: Islanders
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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