Hi guys, I’m back with some hockey picks after not posting NHL write-ups for about a week. I’ve been very busy with my job, my NFL and NBA analyses, as well as “The Sports Investor” podcast. Let’s get back on track with 4 picks for tonight’s busy schedule:
PICK #1: Montreal Canadiens -127 (decimal 1.787) vs Florida Panthers
This pick is based in large part to the motivation level of each team. The Habs are on a 7-game slide after winning their opening game 3-2 in extra time at Buffalo. They came up empty from a 3-game road trip on the West Coast, getting outscored 16-5 in those games. Can you believe the Canadiens made 30 shots on goal in one period in Anaheim? Carey Price has only stopped 88.1% of the shots so far this season, which is stunning. How in the world could the Habs not be fired up for tonight’s game? They certainly won’t want to disappoint their passionate fans.
Meanwhile, the Panthers are posting a 3-4 record, and they are coming off a big 4-1 win in Washington. They are 1-3 on the road this year. Tonight’s contest could be a trap game for them after playing Pittsburgh and Washington, and looking ahead to a matchup against the Anaheim Ducks.
Florida went through a stretch where they had won 5 straight meetings against Montreal, but they have lost the last 3 by a combined 13-5 score.
Montreal native Roberto Luongo will miss the game, which is good news for Habs fans since he loves to play against his hometown team. James Reimer will be between the pipes against Carey Price.
PICK #2: Anaheim Ducks +127 (decimal 2.27) at Philadelphia Flyers
Before the season began, the Ducks were in the top 5 in the league in terms of total expected number of regular season wins according to Vegas lines, whereas the Flyers ranked 23rd. If I had told you back then that you could bet the Ducks at +127 in Philly you would have jumped on that line. Sure, the Ducks have not had a great start (3-3-1), but they have been plagued by injuries. Now, captain Ryan Getzlaf will be back in the lineup, as well as defenseman Hampus Lindholm. Even Sami Vatanen might play tonight. Cam Fowler won’t be available though, but the Flyers will be without Andrew MacDonald (third in terms of average time on ice among all Flyers players).
Anaheim does not seem intimidated by the Philadelphia crowd at all, as shown by their current 6-game winning streak over there!
Both teams should be well-rested (3 days for Anaheim, 2 for Philly). I’m baffled by the public pounding the line on the Flyers (65% of money line bets and 78% of puck line bets). The line has gone from -125 to -138 at Pinnacle. I don’t believe it will get even more inflated as the day goes on, so I would grab the current line right away.
PICK #3: Ottawa Senators -130 (decimal 1.769) vs Los Angeles Kings
The Kings suffered their very first regulation loss of the season last night in Toronto, and I believe they make it two straight. They have been overperforming thus far this season; they were expected to finish 21st in the NHL according to Vegas lines. I don’t trust this team to keep playing at such a high level, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they go on a losing streak. Jonathan Quick is a great goaltender, but the team lacks depth, and they are getting old and slow. Their lineup is not that scary. In my humble opinion, they are being way overrated right now.
The Sens have been playing well too; they are 4-1-3 right now. They are coming off two full days of rest, while the Kings will be playing the second leg of back-to-back games. Their starting goalie has not been announced yet, but it doesn’t matter as much as you might think. Many studies have shown that playing your starting goalie two times in two nights is a wash compared to going with your backup (because your starting goalie won’t be as effective as usual because of the fatigue factor).
From an injury standpoint, LA will be without Jeff Carter, while Ottawa will miss Bobby Ryan who broke a finger last Saturday.
The Sens had beaten the Kings four straight times before LA got a 4-1 victory last December.
PICK #4: Vancouver Canucks +171 (decimal 2.71) at Minnesota Wild
Let’s end this write-up with a big underdog. The Canucks are starting goalie Anders Nilsson, which is not necessarily a bad thing if you are betting them. He posted an impressive .923 save percentage last year with the Sabres. It will be his third start in the 2017-2018 season; he shutout the Sens 3-0 before losing 6-3 in Boston.
Vancouver is playing much better than many people expected; they are 4-3-1 so far. Meanwhile, the Wild were supposed to contend for the Central division title, but are currently dead last. Injuries have been a major issue, and they still are. Tonight Minnesota will be without Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter and Zach Parise, three big pieces in their offense. Their leading scorer from last year, Mikael Granlund, will return from a 5-game absence following a groin injury.
I must admit I’m a bit worried about the fact that this will be Vancouver’s fifth straight road game; will they be tired from such a long trip? The Canucks have won two of their last three visits in Minnesota.
Good luck with your plays and enjoy the games!