After today, we only have one Saturday left of regular-season NHL action. With the playoffs right around the corner and only a handful of games left for each team, the next week of hockey is sure to provide some great matchups and a lot of intense scoreboard watching for more than a few franchises.
With that said, from a betting perspective, you really have to be weary of teams playing spoiler, a role that is relished on the regular for clubs with nothing to play for except pride and maybe draft lottery aspirations. Still, a lot good matchups on tap for today. So do your research, stick to these picks, and let’s make some loot.
Side Bets: 25-23
Overall combined: 55-41 (57%)
St. Louis Blues @ New Jersey Devils – Pick: Blues
After a messy start to the 2018-19 campaign, the Blues have come on strong in the second half of the season, being one of the hottest teams in the Western Conference while climbing back into the Central Division playoff picture. St. Louis already has its playoff ticket punched and the club is coming off a an ugly 4-2 loss to the lowly New York Rangers just last night, so it might not exactly look like a great spot to bet the Blues here, but hold the phone for a minute.
St. Louis has the luxury tonight of playing one of the worst teams and biggest disappointments of this season in the New Jersey Devils, a club that struggles to score goals and earn wins with regularity, as the Devils have only four victories in their last 10 contests.
Add in the fact the Blues have won five straight against New Jersey overall, and I’m feeling a nice bounce-back win for the far superior side. Take the Blues for my Gold pick of the week.
Toronto Maple Leafs @ Ottawa Senators – Pick: Over 7
The battle of Ontario renews tonight in the nation’s capital for what is shaping up to be a seriously high-scoring affair. Toronto and Ottawa are two teams that don’t exactly hang their hats on defensive prowess, as both the Leafs and Sens (most goals allowed in the league with 282) can allow goals in bunches, making me want to hammer the Over in this game. Actually, more to that point, the total has gone over the number in 12 of Toronto’s last 17 contests overall.
Need more reason to sprinkle a wager on the Over here? In the Maple Leafs’ last five trips to Canadian Tire Centre, all five matchups went over the number, and some of them quite quickly.
Goaltenders for tonight’s contest have yet to be confirmed, but if Toronto’s backup netminder Garret Sparks is manning the blue paint for the Buds, jump on the Over before it starts to creep up toward 7.5. Sparks is sporting a bodacious 3.17 GAA, lackluster .903 SV% and has struggled mightily this year, so you see where I’m going with this. (Sparks is confirmed to start. See Goalie Post for more starting goalie information.)
Toronto clinches a playoff berth with a victory over their Ontario rival.
Dallas Stars @ Vancouver Canucks – Pick: Stars
Remember off the top when I was talking about teams playing spoiler? Well, here is one of those scenarios. But, instead of playing it safe and avoiding it, I can’t help myself from taking the team with something to play for over a team that doesn’t.
The Stars have been one of those good-but-not-great teams for seemingly a decade, but the club can clinch a playoff spot against the Canucks in tonight’s late game on Hockey Night in Canada.
Dallas has been playing some of its best hockey at the most opportune time of the season, earning points in seven of its last 10 and winning three in a row. Vancouver, meanwhile, will miss the postseason for the fourth season in a row after another rebuilding year.
Let’s not overthink this one, Stars punch their ticket. Lock it in as my Bronze play.
Buffalo Sabres @ New York Islanders – Pick: Islanders
Vegas Golden Knights @ San Jose Sharks – Pick: Under 6.5
Montreal Canadiens @ Winnipeg Jets – Pick: Jets
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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