Jonathan Coretti looks to extend his hot run of picking games with seven more winners from Saturday's NHL action.
Oh so close to another perfect weekend. My only blemish last Saturday was taking the Blues against the Blue Jackets who seem to be the real deal. As much as I dislike Coach Torterella, he has the Blue Jackets playing very strong hockey and the scoring is coming from all four lines. Safe to say I won’t be fading Columbus anymore until they show some true signs of decline. This week has been a disaster in terms of injuries as many elite forwards went down long term: Steven Stamkos, Johnny Gaudreau and Taylor Hall. Obviously these injuries greatly impact Vegas and wagering lines. Tonight I look to capitalize on some decent lines offering great value for home teams (e.g. Los Angeles and Dallas). I have included an upset/value pick of the week at the end of my piece for those of you who like a bargain. Keep in mind I wouldn’t recommend betting solely on that game but adding it to a parlay could produce a juicy payout.
Record: 21 – 3
Life without Stammer has just begun for the Bolts as they lost Stamkos for long term in their game against Detroit on Tuesday night. Thankfully the Bolts have a ton of scoring depth and although you cannot replace Stamkos, they will make do and get it done in the coming months. Tampa Bay comes into this matinee affair having won three in a row and all on the road to boot. Nikita Kucherov has been on a rampage to start the season as he leads the league with 22 points. On the other end of the ice we have the Flyers who have been rather inconsistent this season. Much of this inconsistency stems from the play or lack thereof in the crease. Fortunately for the Flyers it seems as if Steve Mason is turning a corner in what has been a nightmare of a start for him. Mason has two wins in his last three games while only allowing five goals over that span. This game will be a huge test for Mason as he faces an offensive juggernaut even without Stamkos. Shayne Gostisbehere should draw back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch in the Flyers last game. The Ghost should be extremely motivated if he indeed in the lineup as the Wells Fargo should be bumping with energy. Give me the Flyers in this one as I think they will finish off their four-game homestand strong before going on the road.
Key Stat: Home team is 12-4 in the last 16 meetings.
Pick: Philadelphia – Home Team Win – H
The Devils finally took an L in their last game against the Ducks on Thursday night which ended a five-game unbeaten streak. Every time I look at this Devils lineup I really wonder how they get wins. I know the goaltending is fantastic as Cory Schneider is a bonafide warrior but you need goals to win hockey games and the Devils simply lack scoring depth. Now with Taylor Hall out the Devils will really be in tough to get goals and most especially at the Staples Center. Both of these teams have clear home/away splits as they each prefer playing on home ice. The Devils are an impressive 6-0-1 at home while on the road they are 3-4-2. Likewise, the Kings are 6-2 at home while on the road they are an abysmal 2-7-1. I hate to bet against the Devils as they have been playing some solid hockey but there is no way I can pass up the value on the Kings at home against a Devils squad minus their best sniper in Hall. If Anze Kopitar suits up for this one, goodnight Devils. Take the Kings.
Key Stat: Kings are 6-1 in their last 7 home games.
Pick: Los Angeles – Home Team Win – H
The season started off so well for the Oilers, however, they are 2-7-1 in their last 10 games. Even with their horrible play as of late the Oilers still find themselves second in the Pacific division. Connor McDavid continues to pile up points but oddly enough he has not scored a goal in his last 10 games. Notice a trend here? McDavid scores = Edmonton wins. Cam Talbot who was being praised earlier in the season for his solid play is winless in his last four games allowing 14 goals over that span. The Dallas Stars have been rather blah this season if I had to describe it. Jamie Benn has not looked like his old self but we all know it just takes one big Jamie Benn kind of night to adjust his current point total. However, we must not forget that the Stars have been without several key players such as Jason Spezza and Patrick Sharp for quite some time. Consequently, the scoring has suffered as many lines have had to be shuffled and many times Benn has been split up from his boy Tyler Seguin. But now with the aforementioned return of many key players including Patrick Sharp who is set to return tonight, I fully expect the juggernaut known as the Stars offense to start rolling along. Last, Kari Lehtonen looked in form in his last game for the Stars against the Avalanche as he made many highlight reel saves on route to a 3-2 victory. All things considered I think the Stars get a win here against a slumping Oilers squad. Take the Stars.
Key Stat: Oilers are 8-29-1 in the last 38 meetings in Dallas.
Pick: Dallas – Home Team Win – H
Man, oh man, how good has Tuukka Rask been? Aside from Cary Price it is definitely arguable that Rask is the hottest goalie in the NHL right now. Rask picked up a 1-0 loss in his last game against the Wild on Thursday night. But to be honest he should have had yet another shutout in that game as the GWG came off one of his own defenders skates with less than a minute remaining in regulation. The Bruins have been rather impressive as of late posting a 7-3 record in their last 10 games. Their only losses have come against the Wild, Habs and Rangers. All very competitive squads. Now the Bruins catch the Jets who find themselves third in the Central division. Much of their success has come from the production of what has become a dynamic duo of Mark Scheifele and first year sniper Patrick Laine. Scheifele currently leads the league in points with 22 while Laine leads the league in scoring with 12 on the season. I have watched a few Jets games and I have to say that Laine has an absolute bomb of a shot. Winnipeg heads into this matchup having lost their last game 5-2 to Philadelphia on the road. In that game Laine was a minus-4 and the Flyers looked to be too much for the Jets. Unfortunately for Scheifele and Laine, they will be seeing a ton of Patrice Bergeron tonight. The Bruins should be able to keep that duo quiet and in turn they will get the W.
Key Stat: Jets are 4-17-1 in the last 22 meetings in Boston.
Pick: Boston – Home Team Win – H
I keep waiting to see when Devan Dubnyk will start to come down to earth but he keeps producing gems. One of those gems came in his last game in which he shutout the Bruins 1-0 at home on Thursday night. The Wild have allowed a league best 29 goals on the season which is absolutely absurd. Naturally they take on an Avalanche squad who has scored a league worst 33 goals on the year. Something has to give. The Wild also recently welcomed back their top goal scoring threat in Zach Parise. On the flipside the Avalanche have been without their top sniper Matt Duchene due to a concussion and will likely be without his services yet again tonight. The Wild should be able to keep the Avalanche quiet at the Xcel Energy Center tonight and Parise could get on the board.
Key Stat: Avalanche are 1-7 in the last 8 meetings in Minnesota.
Pick: Minnesota – Home Team Win – H
The Blackhawks head into this matchup having won 3-2 last night in Calgary. Most people view the tail end of back-to-back situations as one to avoid due to fatigue. I however disagree in this circumstance as the Blackhawks are just so good and the Canucks are just so bad. The Canucks are coming off a 3-2 victory over the Yotes on Thursday night, whoop-di-do. Vancouver is 3-7 in their last 10 games and there is truly nothing positive to say about the Canucks. I mean they virtually have no chance of contending this season and their future is looking quite bleak. The only thing that concerns me a little is that Scott Darling is set to start and he has been mediocre this season in comparison to Corey Crawford. Give me the Blackhawks.
Key Stat: Blackhawks are 4-0 in their last 4 Saturday games.
Pick: Chicago – Visitor Team Win – V
**UPSET OF THE NIGHT**
Call me crazy! I normally never take the Leafs. Never. But now I am taking them to win against a team that has beaten them 10 straight times? Not to mention Carey Price has been playing with Game Genie on this year. But when you look a little closer there are some things to like. For one, the Leafs have scored a ridiculous 12 goals in their last two games and that was against two respectable squads in Florida and Nashville. Second, Price did look human in last start at home allowing four goals against the Panthers in a 4-3 loss. Third, the Canadiens are on a three-game losing streak. Fourth, the Canadiens are on the tail end of a back-to-back. Fifth, Alexander Radulov could remain out for this one and he has been an integral part to the Canadiens success this season. Sixth, the Leafs did play the Canadiens really well in their last meeting in which they lost 2-1 in Montreal. So all things considered I think the Leafs are a reasonable play here and you will get some crazy good odds. The tie is also in play as I can see this easily going to overtime.
Key Stat: Maple Leafs are 0-7 in the last 7 meetings in Montreal.
Pick: Toronto – Visitor Team Win – V OR TIE
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