Expert NHL best bets and predictions for Thursday, December 14


NHL best bets and expert picks

They always say that the two-goal lead is the worst lead in hockey, and last night was the perfect example of that. The only play of the night was the Los Angeles Kings to win in regulation. After looking great at the start, jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the Winnipeg Jets stormed back and scored five straight goals. 


Such a deflating loss. 

That said, tonight is a new night, and there are some really strong matchups. 

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Tampa Bay at Edmonton (-166, 6.5)

The Tampa Bay Lightning haven’t been playing their best stretch of hockey, going 4-6-0 in their last ten games. 

December hasn’t been kind to the Bolts, even though they have their stud netminder back in Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Lightning have been somewhat of a nightmare defensively, allowing 3.50 goals against per game this month, and the penalty kill has been very weak as well, skating to a 66.7% rate. 

That penalty kill number is scary for Tampa, considering that they’re going up against the Edmonton Oilers, whose power play has been scoring at 40% in December. 

The Oilers have been buzzing lately, especially offensively, thanks to Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman. In the team’s last 10 games, McDavid has 25 points (six goals, 19 assists), Hyman has added 13 points (eight goals, five assists), and Draisaitl has put up 12 (six goals, six assists) in that span. 

The Lightning haven’t been as consistent offensively, but Nikita Kucherov has been on an absolute tear this season. He is currently leading the NHL with 47 points (19 goals, 28 assists) in 29 games. In the team’s last 10 games, he has tallied six goals and 12 assists. 

In both meetings between the two teams last year, there were plenty of goals being scored. They combined for 18 goals in those two contests. 

Stuart Skinner has been really strong as of late, but I’m not too sure that his play in goal is sustainable. This season, he is skating to a .890 save percentage and a 2.92 goals against average. 

Vasilevskiy has not been up to par with what he’s done in the past. He’s only appeared in eight games since returning to the team, but he’s put up a .894 save percentage and a 2.74 goals against average. 

I don’t trust either goaltender right now, and there is a ton of offensive firepower in this game. 

Bet: Over 6.5 -120 (play to -140)

Florida at Vancouver (-105, 6.5)

The Florida Panthers have been playing some great hockey, but they’re coming off one of, if not their worst losses of the season. The Panthers went into Seattle and were shut out 4-0 by the Kraken on Tuesday night. 

The Vancouver Canucks enter this contest on a three-game winning streak while also winning four of their last five games. This will also be the Canucks fifth straight game on home ice, while the Panthers are playing their third straight game on the road and their fifth game in 10 days. 

The Canucks and Panthers have both had pretty similar Decembers thus far, but Vancouver has been slightly better on both ends of the ice. That said, the Canucks have also been nasty on home ice, skating to an 11-3-1 record, while the Panthers have been fine on the road, but they’re 8-5-2. 

Brock Boeser has been on absolute fire in the team’s last five games, tallying four goals and four assists in that span, and Thatcher Demko has been one of the league’s best goalies this season. He boasts a 14-7-0 record with a .918 save percentage and a 2.42 goals against average. 

This month, the Canucks are scoring 3.80 goals per game and only allowing 2.60 goals against each night. They’ve been money on home ice, and the Panthers have played a ton of hockey as of late. 

I like the Canucks as underdogs on home ice tonight. 

Bet: Vancouver Canucks ML -105 (play to -115)