NHL best bets and expert picks
There are eight games across the league, but there are only two matchups that I like.
The Wild had a horrendous start to the season and were one of the worst teams in the NHL, but since John Hynes has taken over, they have looked like a completely different group.
Since November 27th, the Wild have gone 3-0-0 and have outscored their opponents by a combined score of 13-3. In this time frame, Minnesota is leading the NHL in goals per game, scoring 4.33 in each contest, and they have the best goals against, only allowing 1.00 goal per game. They’ve been getting the job done on both ends of the ice, including special teams.
Sticking to the same time frame, the Wild have skated to the second-best power play percentage, converting at a 37.5% rate and are tied for the sixth-best penalty kill, which is at 90.9%.
The Calgary Flames have had an inconsistent season thus far, but they’ve been playing better hockey as of late. Jacob Markstrom has made the last two starts for the Flames, but they haven’t confirmed if he or Dan Vladar will get the nod tonight. Markstrom is skating to a .896 save percentage as well as a 2.94 goals against average. He has a record of 6-8-2, but is coming off of a game where he struggled against the Vancouver Canucks. Vladar might have a better record, but his numbers haven’t been strong either. Vladar is 4-2-1 with a .883 save percentage and 3.20 goals against average.
The Wild have confirmed that Filip Gustavsson will be their starter. He’s won his last two starts under Hynes and got the night off against the Blackhawks, so he will be fresh. In those two starts, Gustavsson only allowed two goals combined on a total of 56 shots faced.
I don’t want to underestimate Calgary, but this Minnesota team looks different right now.
Bet: Minnesota Wild ML -112 (play to -125)
There haven’t been many teams as inconsistent as the New Jersey Devils. This was a team that had a ton of hype coming into the season. They’re now 11-10-1 on the season, coming off their worst loss of the season as they fell 6-3 to the San Jose Sharks on home ice. The Vancouver Canucks are going to see a pissed-off Devils team tonight after that loss, but this game has some more meaning to it.
This is the first time that Jack, Quinn and Luke Hughes will all share the ice together in the National Hockey League, so with that storyline in mind, this game should be a ton of fun.
What will make this game even more fun is seeing two high-flying offensive teams going at it. The Devils and Canucks haven’t had many issues producing offensively.
Vancouver enters this game as the second-highest scoring offense in the league, averaging 3.84 goals per game, while the Devils aren’t too far off, as they’re the fourth-highest scoring offense, tallying 3.59 goals per game.
The power plays have been humming as well for both teams. The Devils have the advantage in this category, boasting a 36% on the man-advantage. The Canucks have the league’s fourth-best power play percentage, scoring at a 27.5% rate.
The Devils’ goaltending has been their team’s biggest crutch. New Jersey has allowed 3.73 goals against per game, which is the second most in the NHL. Vitek Vanecek is the expected starter, but he and Akira Schmid have been on the struggle bus. Vanecek is skating to a .879 save percentage and a 3.49 goals against average, while Schmid is at a .891 save percentage and a 3.27 goals against average.
Brock Boeser has four goals in his last five games, while Jack Hughes, Dawson Mercer and Alexander Holtz each have three goals in their last five games.
This game should be all offense. Even though that number seven could be scary, I still like the over.
Bet: Over 7 +110 (play to -110)