The 2018-19 NHL season has already seen a number of surprising trends develop – and we haven’t even hit the halfway mark. Whether it be the first-place Calgary Flames, Mikko Rantanen’s improbable hot start to pace the league in scoring, or even the L.A. Kings’ embarrassingly bad 21 points, there certainly isn’t a lack of intriguing storylines.
Conversely, the first two months to the year haven’t exactly been a breeze when it comes to picks, as my fairly mediocre overall record of 16-14 (53%) would indicate. Again, like I said last week, OK, but not great.
Not as loaded a Saturday board as we’ve become accustomed to over the last few campaigns, but still 10 games on tap today to dabble in.
Side Bets: 8-7
Vegas Golden Knights @ L.A. Kings – Pick: Golden Knights
Like I said above, the Kings are downright bad, and despite getting number 1 netminder Jonathan Quick back from injury at the end of November, L.A. continues to take Ls on the regular. Sitting in dead last in the entire league, the Kings are struggling to find any consistency on offense, registering an NHL low 62 goals.
To put that into perspective, the Arizona Coyotes (!) have 70. So, with that and the Knights’ recent resurgence, this is looking like a great spot to bet on a streaking Vegas club that has gone 8-2-0 over its last 10 contents.
A lot of love has to go to veteran goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who has been absolutely lights out for Gerard Gallant’s men over the last few weeks. Take in Flower’s numbers since November 18: 8-1-0 record to go along with a sparkling .930 save percentage and two shutouts.
Taking a road team as my Gold pick is always risky, but I’m feeling it. Knights take this one.
Pittsburgh Penguins @ Ottawa Senators – Pick: Penguins
I got torched last week when the Pens laid a juicy ol’ egg against their instate rival Flyers, but there is obviously no denying the superstar quality of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, two players that allow Pittsburgh to truly never be out of any matchup.
Now, the Penguins have struggled recently on the road, especially in Ottawa, winning only two of their last five in the nation’s capital. However, Pittsburgh has won four of its last five overall against the Sens, so I am feeling a bounce-back Saturday for Sid and the boys.
Ottawa is coming off a shellacking at the hands of a very mediocre Montreal Canadiens team Thursday night that saw the team allow five goals. Add in the fact the Senators also lost Matt Duchene and Bobby Ryan to injury in that game, and the Pens should be licking their chops for this one.
Penguins by at least two goals. Book it.
Colorado Avalanche @ Tampa Bay Lightning – Pick: Over 6.5
One of a handful of juicy matchups on Saturday’s board, the tilt between two of the hottest teams going right now in the Lightning and Avalanche showcases the NHL’s two top-scoring teams.
Tampa leads the league in goals scored with 117, and the Avs sit a close second with 107 tallies. From the aforementioned Mikko Rantanen to Nathan MacKinnon to Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos, this contest has no shortage of red-hot snipers, meaning it could be a very long night for Louis Domingue and Semyon Varlamov.
I feel bad for the goalies in this matchup. Hammer the over, this one could get wild in a hurry.
Toronto Maple Leafs @ Boston Bruins – Pick: Maple Leafs
Washington Capitals @ Columbus Blue Jackets – Pick: Under 6.5
San Jose Sharks @ Arizona Coyotes – Pick: Under 5.5
Flip Livingstone is a former NHL writer for theScore with past experience at such outlets as Postmedia, Hockey Night in Canada, and the CBC. You can follow him on Twitter @FlipLivingstone.
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