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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Blues vs. Kings NHL Preview

 

A pair of West Division rivals will face off on Friday night when the Blues skate into Los Angeles to take on the Kings. Let’s analyze this matchup and keep cashing our NHL picks!

 

St. Louis Blues vs. Los Angeles Kings

Friday, March 5, 2021 – 9:00 PM ET at Staples Center

The Blues are picking up momentum after dropping three straight at home to the Sharks and the Kings (twice). Since then, St. Louis has hit the highway and the results have been just what the doctor ordered with a win over San Jose and then a double-dipper against the Ducks in Anaheim.

Entering tonight’s game, the Blues sit in second place in the West, trailing the Golden Knights by just a point. In their last outing on Wednesday night, St. Louis’ anemic power-play unit caught fire and converted on all three of their man-advantaged situations with Oskar Sundqvist, Brayden Schenn, and Zach Sanford all lighting the lamp for the Blues in their 3-2 win over Anaheim.

Jordan Binnington was back between the pipes on Wednesday and was sharp in turning aside 27 of 29 shots in the win over the Ducks. The 27-year-old was pulled in the first game of this current road trip after allowing four goals on 19 shots and went after several Sharks before exiting the game. Backup Ville Husso would come on in relief and hold down the fort in a come-from-behind 7-6 St. Louis victory on Sunday.

Coach Berube decided to give Binnington a breather in the following game after his uncharacteristic outburst in the previous game and Husso picked up a 5-4 win against Anaheim on Monday night.

Kings Getting Crowned

It’s been a rollercoaster season for the Kings with more valleys than peaks, and right now they are desperately trying to shake off the funk of a three-game skid after winning six straight. LA

allowed only 1.16 goals per game during that six-game stretch but has allowed 3.33 goals per game over their current slide.

After defeating the Coyotes in two consecutive games on Phoenix’s home ice just a few weeks earlier, the Kings bowed 3-2 on Wednesday, victimized by a pair of power-play goals.

“Obviously our penalty kill let us down tonight,” coach Todd MacLellan said. “We made two critical mistakes, and they capitalized on the mistakes that we saw last year in our penalty kill. We think we’ve corrected them, and they’re creeping back in, so we’ve got work to do there.”

It should be noted that the Kings outshot the Coyotes, 42-23, and had a big edge in faceoffs, winning 30 of 48 draws.

Wanna Make a Bet?

It’s hard not to notice the Blues’ gaudy record away from the Enterprise Center, having won nine of 11 on the highway, which makes them the second-best road team in the league, with the Maple Leafs holding the top spot at 9-1-1.

However, we should also note that the Blues have lost three of four this season to the Kings, but all of those games were held in St. Louis where they are a disappointing 4-6-2 at the Enterprise Center. It’s a bit ironic giving a checkmark to the road team based on the venue but the numbers don’t lie.

Speaking of numbers, the early NHL odds on this game over at SugarHouse reveal the Blues as -120 chalk and that’s not all that surprising considering they have been such a dominant force away from home this year. But just because they have been beasts on the road this season doesn’t mean we blindly tail them. We have to consider the Kings’ domination over the Blues, having won their last three meetings this season and outscoring them 11-4 in those contests.

St. Louis is 1-4 in their last five Friday games and if LA’s goalie rotation remains intact, I believe we will be seeing Calvin Petersen tending the twine for the Kings. That would be a big boon to LA’s defense because Petersen has been outplaying Jonathan Quick this season. You might also recall he was superb in the last game played between these clubs when he stopped 35 of 36 shots in LA’s 2-1 win over St. Louis on February 24th.

As good as the Blues have been on the road, that won’t last forever and the Kings match up well against St. Louis. This is a good spot to bet the sharp side without laying a nickel in vig – take the Kings on Friday night.

Free NHL Pick: Kings +100 at SugarHouse

Bruins vs. Rangers NHL Preview

Anthony Bitetto #22 and Libor Hajek #25 of the New York Rangers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.   Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images/AFP

Anthony Bitetto #22 and Libor Hajek #25 of the New York Rangers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images/AFP

 

 

A pair of Original Six rivals face-off on Friday night when the Bruins travel to the Big Apple to meet the Rangers. Let’s analyze this matchup and keep cashing our NHL picks!

 

Boston Bruins vs. New York Rangers

Friday, February 26, 2021 – 7:00 PM ET at Madison Square Garden

After dropping four consecutive games, the Rangers came up big against two upper-tier divisional rivals when they defeated the Flyers, 3-2, in a shootout, and followed that with a convincing 4-1 win over the Capitals. However, the euphoria was short-lived as a rematch with the Flyers in Philadelphia on Wednesday night saw their modest winning-streak halted in a 4-3 loss.

The Rangers are now 6-8-3 on the season and the loss to Philadelphia was just another near-miss New York has had this season. Of their 11 losses (including the three in extra frames), a staggering eight of those contests have been come by a goal or less. The Blueshirts’ biggest issue has been their offense not firing this season, averaging just 2.47 goals per game which ranks them 25th in the league.

But on the flip side, the goaltending, and defense in general, has been better than most as evidenced by their 2.65 goals allowed average, placing them ninth in the league in that category. However, when you are allowing more goals than you’re scoring, then you will be a sub .500 team and that’s what we are seeing this season with the Rangers thus far.

 

Bruins Stunned by Isles

Until a few weeks ago, the Bruins were the hottest club in the league but that has changed considerably after dropping three of their last four, including Thursday night’s 7-2 loss to the Islanders. It looked like another competitive game with New York, to whom the B’s had lost on February 13th, until the third period when the Islanders shattered a 2-2 tie with five goals in the final stanza.

Jaroslav Halak got the start between the pipes for Boston and he had not yielded any third-period goals in his six previous outings but Thursday night saw a sudden end to that flawless streak. Left-winger Nick Ritchie was objective about the setback: “Tonight was hopefully a one-off. We just fell apart and kind of stopped playing, and that’s what happens in this league. There’s a lot of good teams.”

The Bruins have been outscored 14-6 over their last three losses but they are still among the stingiest teams in the league, allowing 2.53 goals per game which places them seventh in the league. However, their penalty-killing unit trails only Colorado, extinguishing 88.1 percent of its opponents’ opportunities while the power play unit is connecting on 28.8 percent of its chances, ranking it sixth in that category.

 

Wanna Make a Bet?

The NHL odds at all of the best online books are dealing the Bruins between -165 and -182 favorites. But I’m not sure I understand the logic behind that steep number. The Bruins just played last night and are on the second leg of back-to-back games. They were clearly gassed in the third period when they got blown out and must now do it all over again against a Rangers team that has been competitive in virtually every game they have played this season.

Unless something unforeseen occurs between now and the time the puck drops, Tuukka Rask will be tending the twine for the Bruins but he has not been as bullet-proof as in years past. The 33-year-old veteran checks in with a 2.56 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage, decent but not elite numbers.

If you blindly adhere to trends then you must take note of Boston winning the last six meetings between these teams. However, the price we are being asked to lay on the Bruins, a team playing back-to-back road games, is geared towards getting the squares to send it in. We will flip the script and grab all that delicious juice and bet the Rangers will see the puck fall its way tonight and give them a well-deserved victory.

Free NHL Pick: Rangers +155 at BetMGM