Blues vs. Golden Knights NHL Preview and Best Bet

Chandler Stephenson #20 of the Vegas Golden Knights skates with the puck. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

Chandler Stephenson #20 of the Vegas Golden Knights skates with the puck. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

The Blues are inching closer to clinching the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division, but the Knights are looking to maintain their hold on the No. 1 seed. Let’s analyze this Friday night divisional matchup and keep cashing our NHL picks.

 

St. Louis Blues vs. Vegas Golden Knights

Friday, May 07, 2021 – 10:00 PM EDT at T-Mobile Arena

The Blues had reeled off four straight wins before falling, 4-3 in overtime, to the Stars on Saturday. They rebounded with a solid 3-1 victory over Anaheim on Monday before welcoming the Ducks again, two nights later, only to bow 3-2 in a shootout.

Mike Hoffman notched his 17th goal of the season when he drew first blood for the Blues on the power-play unit to put his team in front, 1-0, in the first period of Wednesday night’s tangle with the Ducks. But Anaheim would connect on the next two goals, putting St. Louis behind 2-1 before Kyle Clifford tallied for his fourth goal of the season early in the final period to even the score.

The overtime period was scoreless but Anaheim prevailed in the shootout round when Troy Terry tucked the biscuit behind Jordan Binnington to seal the deal for the Ducks. Speaking of Binnington, the 27-year-old veteran was awarded the second star of the game, turning aside 33 of 35 shots, and keeping the Blues in contention throughout.

St. Louis has five games remaining on their regular-season slate and are six points in front of the Coyotes for the final playoff spot in the division. However, Vegas will be a formidable opponent over these next two back-to-back games in Sin City and nothing is assured quite yet.

Statistically speaking, the Blues are ranked 13th in goals scored (2.94 GF/G), 21st in goals allowed (3.04 GA/G), 9th on the power play (22.8%), and 28th on the penalty kill, (76.4%).

 

Vegas Rolling into Postseason

The Golden Knights were the hottest team in the league, fashioning a 10-game winning streak before the Coyotes pulled off a 3-0 stunner in the desert. But Vegas regrouped the following evening with a 3-2 overtime victory over Arizona, only to drop a 6-5 slugfest with the Stars two nights later.

In their last performance on Wednesday, the Knights would avenge their loss to Minnesota and emerge with a 3-2 overtime decision. Chandler Stephenson would score his 13th goal in the first period while Reilly Smith evened the game with a late third-period power-play goal, his 10th tally of the season. But it was Alex Pietrangelo’s fifth goal of the year that copped the overtime victory with assists from Jonathan Marchessault and Alex Tuch. Marc-Andre Fleury earned the win with his 26 saves.

Statistically, the Knights are ranked 4th in goals scored (3.37 GF/G), 1st in goals allowed (2.23 GA/G), 21st on the power play (18.8%), and 2nd on the penalty kill (86.1%).

 

Wanna Make a Bet?

This will be the seventh of eight meetings between the clubs and they will face off again tomorrow night in a rematch at the T-Mobile Arena. Vegas holds a 4-2 series advantage but the last time these teams battled was nearly a month ago when the Blues notched a 3-1 win. Jordan Binnington came up huge in that game, stoning 50 of 51 shots by the visiting Knights. The victory also snapped what was a seven-game losing streak for St. Louis.

The early NHL odds on this one reveal the Knights as -159 home chalk, which is around what they were when they lost to the Blues on the road in their last meeting. Chances are we will see Robin Lehner between the pipes for the Knights considering head coach, Peter DeBoer, has been religiously alternating his goaltending tandem over the last six weeks and Fleury got the start in their last game on Wednesday night against Minnesota.

Both teams have something to play for in this one as the Golden Knights would like to lock up the No. 1 seed in the West while the Blues would just like an invitation to the postseason party. If the standings hold, the Blues would meet the Knights in Vegas a few weeks from now in the opening round of the playoffs

The price is fairly steep on Vegas at this point, but don’t delay, because this line could rise even higher on the home team. The Knights have a more explosive offense and, unless Blues’ goalie Jordan Binnington can recreate his heroics from the last time these teams met, I don’t suspect anything but a Vegas win on Friday night.

Free NHL Pick: Knights -159 at SugarHouse

Golden Knights vs. Coyotes NHL Preview

Mattias Janmark #26 of the Vegas Golden Knights eyes the puck. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

Mattias Janmark #26 of the Vegas Golden Knights eyes the puck. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

 

Vegas occupies the top spot in the West Division and is one of the hottest teams in the league right now, while the Coyotes are struggling to cop a postseason berth. Let’s handicap this divisional matchup and keep cashing our NHL picks.

 

Vegas Golden Knights vs. Arizona Coyotes

Friday, April 30, 2021 – 10:00 PM EDT at Gila River Arena

If Vegas was betting craps the house would be broke by now. The Golden Knights are on a 10-game winning streak and only one of those games was not won in regulation. Moreover, eight of the 10 victories saw the Knights win by two or more goals so even those betting the underdog on the puck line (+1 ½) cannot cash against this juggernaut.

In their most recent outing, the Knights defeated the Colorado Avalanche, 5-2, and it was a huge win over their nearest divisional rival, now leading Colorado by six points with only eight games remaining in the regular season.

William Karlsson drew first blood in the opening period with his 13th goal of the season but the Avs drew even with a goal of their own and entered the second period knotted at one. Max Pacioretty put Vegas ahead for good with a power-play tally in the second period and would get another before the game was through in Wednesday night’s win.

Despite getting outshot by Colorado, 37-26, the key to victory was standout goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury, who turned aside 35 of 37 shots. Speaking of goaltending, the Knights have it in spades and head coach, Peter DeBoer, has been religiously alternating Fleury and backup, Robin Lehner, since March 27th. If the pattern holds true, and we have no reason to suspect it won’t, we can expect Robin Lehner tending the twine on Friday night for the Knights.

 

Coyotes Pressing Panic Button

Arizona has lost nine of their last 11 games and hosting the hottest team in the league for two of their last six games remaining is hardly the elixir they were seeking. But that’s the hand they have been dealt and if they are to have any chance of skating into the playoffs then they will have to take care of business over the next week, and that includes a sweep over the Knights starting tonight.

But that won’t be easy, particularly if you review the season series between these clubs. The Coyotes are a dismal 1-5 versus the Knights this season and have been outscored, 20-13, in the process. The last time these teams faced off, the Knights claimed a 1-0 victory on April 11th and the Coyotes managed only 14 shots. Arizona netminder, Adin Hill, was stellar between the pipes in that one, turning aside 28 of 29 shots, in the losing effort.

 

Wanna Make a Bet?

It is easy to be reflexive in mismatches such as this but the NHL odds are there for a reason as it sobers us up when we want to bet the favorite hand over fist. In this case, we can see all the best online sportsbooks installing Vegas as a -195-road favorite on the early line. What we have to do is find out if there is any reason, other than the lofty return we would be getting on the home underdog, to bet the Coyotes.

The biggest mismatch in this contest is an impressive Vegas offense, averaging 4.5 goals per game over their last 10, versus a dismal Coyotes’ defense that has allowed 3.8 goals per game over the same number of games. Perhaps the only ray of hope that the Coyotes have, other than Vegas just flat out having an off-night, would be that Robin Lehner is likely to be in the net for the Knights. Although he is 2-1 versus the Coyotes this season, he owns a 3.66 goals against average over those three starts.

All of that said, it is not enough to dissuade me from laying the lumber on the hottest team in the NHL and watching them stomp an inferior foe, yet again.

Free NHL Pick: Golden Knights -195 at SugarHouse

 

Predators vs. Blackhawks NHL Preview

Mikael Granlund #64 of the Nashville Predators on April 13, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee.   Frederick Breedon/Getty Images/AFP

Mikael Granlund #64 of the Nashville Predators on April 13, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. Frederick Breedon/Getty Images/AFP

 

The Predators will attempt to avenge their Wednesday night loss to Chicago while the Blackhawks look to make it two straight over their Central Division rivals. Let’s handicap this Friday night clash and keep cashing our NHL picks!

 

Nashville Predators vs. Chicago Blackhawks

Friday, April 23, 2021 – 8:00 PM ET at United Center

 

Nashville had won their last six meetings against the Blackhawks but all good things must come to an end and so too did their recent domination over their Central division rivals. It took an overtime frame to get it done but Chicago’s Brandon Hagel deposited the winning goal with assists from Vinnie Hinostroza and Kirby Dach to clinch the 5-4 victory.

Nashville goaltender, Juuse Saros, had an uncharacteristically underwhelming performance allowing five goals on 30 shots, but in fairness, the Predators defense lapsed at the wrong times and were consistently outmuscled in their own end in the final period.

But the Preds’ offense was clicking as they launched 40 shots on Chicago netminder Malcolm Subban and scored on four occasions. Eeli Tolvanen knotted the game at one apiece in the opening period followed by second-period goals from Colton Sissons and Mikael Granlund. With only 58 seconds gone in the third period, Luke Kunin extended the Nashville lead to 4-1 and it appeared as though the Nashville freight train that routinely dominated the Blackhawks was rolling over them yet again. However, Chicago displayed a grittiness rarely seen from this year’s edition and roared back with three third-period tallies and then the game-winner in overtime.

 

Blackhawks Coming Off a Stunner

 

Chicago was an unlikely winner on Wednesday night after trailing by three goals in the third period. However, after Pius Suter notched his 13th goal of the season in the first period, the Chicago offense awoke from its slumber, and third-period goals by Wyatt Kalynuk, Vinnie Hinostroza, and Dominik Kubalik tied the game before Brandon Hagel roofed a wrist shot to seal the deal in overtime with his seventh of the season.

“That’s a comeback,” Chicago coach Jeremy Colliton said. “We put ourselves in a pretty big hole, stuck with it, never gave up.”

“I just wish there were fans here to see it,” said winning goalie Malcolm Subban. “An unbelievable overtime goal.”

The Blackhawks are teetering on the playoff precipice, occupying the sixth spot in the Central Division trailing No. 4 Nashville by three points and No. 5 Dallas by only a point. It was a sorely needed victory against a team that has owned them this season and they will need another one if they are to remain in the postseason conversation.

 

Wanna Make a Bet?

 

The NHL odds are revealing the Predators as anywhere between a -125 to -132 road favorite in this eighth and final regular-season meeting between these clubs. I find it a perfectly palatable price considering the Predators have dominated the Blackhawks this season with the lone exception being Wednesday night. And even if you look at that game it is easy to see that Nashville was resting on its laurels throughout much of the third period and a series of errors contributed greatly to Chicago’s comeback.

It wouldn’t shock me if Nashville coach, John Hynes, gave starting goalie, Juuse Saros, the night off. The 25-year-old native of Finland has played in 11 of the last 12 games and looked gassed in the late stages of Wednesday night’s loss. If that is the case, veteran Pekka Rinne will be tending the twine for the Predators. Although he is not the same stellar netminder as he was back in his glory days, he is certainly a capable replacement.

The bottom line here is that Chicago was fortunate to eke out the decision over Nashville and the fact they lost six straight to the Preds before that victory is no fluke. Nashville is a superior defensive team and I would take Pekka Rinne over either Chicago goaltender in a heartbeat which means I am unconcerned about who gets the start for the Preds tonight.

The only way Chicago wins this game tonight is if Nashville makes the same mistakes they made late in the game on Wednesday night and that is unlikely to happen. The price is tolerable on the road chalk here so let’s lay it and like it!

 

NHL Pick: Predators -125 at BetMGM

 

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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