Flames vs. Canadiens NHL Preview

The Flames return to the Bell Centre on Friday night to try to replicate their winning effort from two nights ago when they handed the Canadiens a 4-1 defeat. Let’s analyze this North Division matchup and determine which side will have us cashing tickets in our NHL picks on Friday night.

 Calgary Flames vs. Montreal Canadiens

Friday, April 16, 2021 – 6:00 PM ET at Bell Centre, Montreal, Canada

 

The Flames have now won three straight and are looking for another after skating by the Canadiens, 4-1, on Wednesday night. Noah Hanifin got things started in the opening period with his fourth goal of the season while Mark Giordano tallied in the second, followed by third-period goals, courtesy of Josh Leivo and Sean Monahan.

Jacob Markstrom has been handling the lion’s share of the workload between the pipes for the Flames and he sparkled in Wednesday night’s victory, turning aside 26 of 27 shots in the victory. It was his second win in as many nights after a sterling performance the previous night when he backstopped the Flames to a 3-2 overtime upset against the Maple Leafs.

Markstrom’s load won’t lighten anytime soon after his backup, David Rittich, was shipped to Toronto for a third-round pick. That leaves Calgary with journeyman, Louis Domingue, as Markstrom’s new backup, and one who has yet to make a start this season. As long as the Flames continue to win and close the gap on the Canadiens for the final playoff spot in the North, Markstrom will continue to start.

Head coach Darryl Sutter has no issues working Markstrom like a rented mule, “Well, we only have what, 13 games, you look at our schedule, it’s not that hard. Even if he did play every game, put it this way, he’d still be the same as what he played last year. That’s not a big deal.”

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Wild vs. Blues NHL Preview

Cam Talbot #33 of the Minnesota Wild takes a break during a stop in play. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

Cam Talbot #33 of the Minnesota Wild takes a break during a stop in play. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

Minnesota is coming off their finest offensive performance of the season while the Blues saw their lengthy losing streak come to a merciful end with a victory over Vegas on Wednesday night. Let’s analyze this matchup and determine which side is the sharp side in our NHL picks on Friday night.

 

Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues

Friday, April 9, 2021 – 8:00 PM ET at Enterprise Center, St. Louis, MO

Minnesota has won three of their last four with the most recent being an 8-3 waxing of the West-leading Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night. It was a stellar rebound from their 4-3 overtime loss to Colorado just two days earlier and the bulk of the credit must go to Kevin Fiala for his hat trick and an assist in a game where the Wild scored a season-high eight goals.

Russian rookie Kirill Kaprizov tallied two of Minnesota’s three power-play goals but the irony was the Wild were outshot 32-19, scoring on a stunning 42 percent of their opportunities. The case could be made that the Wild’s prolific offensive production was due more to Colorado’s shoddy goaltending rather than Minnesota’s pinpoint accuracy. Nevertheless, it was a much-needed victory for the Wild as they are now just six points back of Colorado in the West Division.

Moreover, it was the first game the Wild played in front of their home crowd, as the easing of restrictions allowed 3000 fans to enter the stadium. “That was cool, to have the fans here, the energy,” Fiala said. “We like to play in front of the fans, you know? Obviously, to see the hats on the ice, it was very fun.”

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Devils vs. Capitals NHL Preview

P.K. Subban #76 of the New Jersey Devils skates. Patrick Smith/Getty Images/AFP

P.K. Subban #76 of the New Jersey Devils skates. Patrick Smith/Getty Images/AFP

 

The Devils are hoping to rebound in the second game of back-to-backs on Friday after Thursday’s night’s loss to the Capitals in DC. Let’s analyze this matchup between these East Division rivals and keep cashing our NHL picks!

 

New Jersey Devils vs. Washington Capitals

Friday, March 26, 2021 – 7:00 PM ET at Capital One Arena

After struggling throughout the season, the Devils got on a bit of a roll, winning four of five entering last night’s clash with the Capitals. However, after drawing first blood early in the first period off of an unassisted goal by Nicholas Merkley, the Devils would fall behind until Jesper Bratt tallied on a power-play opportunity to knot the game at three apiece.

It was a close contest throughout and the Devils not only won more faceoffs but outshot the Capitals as well, 24-22. Unfortunately for New Jersey, the Caps’ Evgeny Kuznetsov would counter a minute later with his second goal of the evening which also proved to be the game-winner in a 4-3 victory for Washington.

Mackenzie Blackwood got the starting assignment for New Jersey last night and it was not his finest performance as he allowed four goals on 22 shots. The 24-year-old Ontario native has been getting the majority of the starts this season over veteran Scott Wedgewood but has only started four consecutive games once this season. And because this would be his fourth straight start, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Wedgewood tending the twine tonight. Goalies are unconfirmed at the time of this writing.

Caps Streaking

Washington enters Friday’s contest having won eight of its last nine games with the most recent being the 4-3 win over the Devils last night. Alex Ovechkin has been on a heater and he continued his torrid pace with a goal and an assist in the second period on Thursday night while fellow Russian, Evgeny Kuznetsov, has found his groove five weeks after being sidelined with

COVID-19. It took several games for the 28-year-old veteran to find his legs but he certainly has found them recently, scoring at least a point in seven of his last eight games including a pair of goals last night against the Devils.

“After the pretty long break after COVID, (it) wasn’t (an) easy one to get back in hockey shape,” said Kuznetsov. “I hope that I’m going to continue to grow and I hope the team is going to play much better and know we can be successful.

“The hockey thing, it’s so funny: It’s so hard to find (your) game, and it’s so easy to lose that game. I hope that we’re getting in the right direction where we’re understanding the system, we execute the plays that we want to make, how we want to play.”

Wanna Make a Bet?

The meeting last night between the haves and the have-nots in the East Division was highly competitive, and although the Capitals skated out with a win in hand, it wasn’t easy. It took New Jersey to score in order for Washington’s offense to wake up and retaliate. After each Devils’ goal last night, the Capitals responded within two minutes in netting one of their own. It’s almost as though they needed something to catch their attention and had they not been so proficient last night in doing so, it could very easily have cost them the game.

The NHL odds on this one are even a bit higher than they were last night. The best online betting sites like BetMGM and Unibet are dealing the Caps as anywhere between -200 and -220 home chalk. It is hard to disagree with that because the Devils played as well as they are capable last night and still came up empty to a vastly superior team, and one that has defeated them in all five meetings this season.

However, it should also be noted that only one of Washington’s wins this season has been by more than a goal so to say this will be a walkover is not giving Jersey enough credit. But with that as the caveat, the Russian triumvirate of Alex Ovechkin, Dmitry Orlov, and Evgeny Kuznetsov has nestled nicely into a groove after the first two were suspended for violating COVID protocols while the latter was sick with it. All three were out of sync upon returning but not anymore and that means trouble for the Devils.

Sometimes you have to swallow hard to lay lumber this heavy but you could also include Washington in a parlay if the money scares you. Either way, bet the Caps and cash a ticket.

NHL Pick: Capitals -200 at BetMGM

Golden Knights vs. Kings NHL Preview

Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates his empty net. Harry How/Getty Images/AFP

Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates his empty net. Harry How/Getty Images/AFP

The Golden Knights skate into the City of Angels riding a four-game winning streak and will battle the Kings on Friday night in the first of two back-to-back games between these divisional rivals. Let’s analyze this matchup and keep cashing our NHL picks!

 Vegas Golden Knights vs. Los Angeles Kings

Friday, March 19, 2021 – 10:00 PM ET at Staples Center

 

The Golden Knights swept the Blues on the road then returned to Sin City to dispatch the Sharks in a two-game set. Now they are back on the highway with a pair against the Kings, a team they beat twice in Las Vegas earlier this year. The Knights sit atop the West Division with a 20-6-1 record and are among the stingiest defensive teams in the league, allowing only 2.22 goals per game, trailing only the New York Islanders (2.20).

However, the last time they took the ice the Knights were uncharacteristically generous in their own end, allowing the Sharks to enter the third period with a 3-1 lead on Wednesday night but a four-goal outburst by the Knights in the final frame put another notch in their holster as they secured a 5-4 victory.

Cody Glass and Alec Martinez lit the lamp with third-period power-play goals, a good sign for a special team’s unit that has connected on just 18.8 percent of their man-advantaged opportunities, ranking them 22nd in that category. It was a chippy game all-around with Knights’ captain Mark Stone and diminutive center Jonathan Marchessault trading blows with the Sharks’ Tomas Hertl and captain Logan Couture, respectively.

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Golden Knights vs. Blues NHL Preview

Alex Tuch #89 of the Vegas Golden Knights is congratulated. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images/AFP

Alex Tuch #89 of the Vegas Golden Knights is congratulated. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images/AFP

 

Two West Division powers face off on Friday night when the Golden Knights tangle with the Blues in St. Louis. Let’s analyze this matchup and keep cashing our NHL picks!

 

 Vegas Golden Knights vs. St. Louis Blues

Friday, March 12, 2021 – 8:00 PM ET at Enterprise Center, St. Louis, MO

The Golden Knights have a tenuous grasp on the top spot in the West and it’s getting even more suspect after they dropped two consecutive games to the Wild. After losing 2-0 to Minnesota on Monday, the Knights offense awoke after getting shutout for only the second time all year.

Well, let’s just say Vegas defenseman Dylan Coghlan woke up as he notched not only his first NHL hat trick but also the first three goals of his NHL career! What are the odds of that happening? Quite long to be sure but not unheard of as Coghlan became only the third defenseman in NHL history to score the first three goals of his career in a single game, along with Uli Hiemer (1984, of New Jersey) and Joe Hall (1918, of Montreal).

Unfortunately for the Knights, it was too little too late as the Wild already held a commanding 4-1 lead in the third period before Coghlan scored his second and third goals in what resulted in a 4-3 loss for the Knights. Vegas netminder, Marc-Andre Fleury, was driven from the game after allowing four goals on 29 shots while the Knights’ surrendered a goal to the league’s worst power-play unit when Kirill Kaprizov tallied for the Wild in the second period.

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