NHL daily picks: Hoping for help from the hockey gods
The Tampa Bay Lightning are a machine right now, and with the way Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Vladislav Namestnikov are going it’s hard to imagine any team being confident of being able to slow their roll. And while the Stamkos-Kucherov connection is rightfully getting a ton of attention, one player for Tampa Bay that is flying under the radar is Yanni Gourde. The undrafted 25-year-old has four goals and seven assists for the Bolts in 16 games, meaning he’s already surpassed his points total for his entire career. With the Stamkos line rolling, Gourde, Ondrej Palat and Brayden Point are flying under the radar for the time being, but that won’t be the case for much longer.
Last night’s action: There were only three games last night, and after initially thinking the whole card was a pass, the Bruins number got to the point where it was worth taking. Unfortunately, the B’s couldn’t come through, extending our losing streak to three games.
The Chicago Blackhawks have won just seven of their first 15 games and look like they could be in a playoff scrap for the first time in forever. The Hawks’ saving grace thus far has been goaltender Corey Crawford, who boasts the second-best goals saved above average (GSAA) in the NHL. Tonight, the Blackhawks travel to Philadelphia where they are slight underdogs against the Flyers. Tonight’s tilt will feature two teams that rely heavily on their top six forwards but play contrasting styles; the Flyers don’t generate a ton of volume, nor do they allow many shot attempts, while the Blackhawks do the opposite. Even with this game in Philadelphia, the ‘Hawks are the value side here.
If hockey had lookahead lines, it would be interesting to see what the market would be for the Oilers, who were a preseason Stanley Cup contender, visiting the Devils, who were pegged for the NHL’s basement. Despite great possession numbers, the Oilers aren’t getting much from anyone that isn’t on the ice with Connor McDavid and thus, are struggling to get on a roll. In contrast, their opponent tonight is succeeding despite a negative expected goal differential and poor possession numbers at 5-on-5. Cory Schneider has been great in goal for the Devils, and even if New Jersey is due for some regression at some point, this game is a coin flip, meaning that we’ll roll with the Devils.
The Wild are on night two of a back-to-back on the road in Montreal as they take on Charlie “Carey Who?” Lindgren and the Habs. The Canadiens are right to be favored and win this one just over 50 percent of the time, but this price is out of whack. There’s a decent edge here on Minnesota, and they are worth a wager.
The Western Conference’s best team hosts its worst team on Thursday night when the Arizona Coyotes pay a visit to St. Louis to tangle with the Blues. St. Louis is a very solid hockey team, and while Arizona isn’t good, they are certainly not as bad as their record would indicate. Even though you’ll lose this one more often than you win it, this a good number to move on for Arizona.
Update, 3:26 p.m. ET
With the Ducks line now -127, they are being added to our plays. Anaheim is banged up, but with the Canucks playing their third game in four nights, this is a good spot to back the Ducks.
Plays: Blackhawks +102, Devils +109, Wild +131, Coyotes +210, Ducks -127
Season to date: 35-43, -3.41u