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With everyone still full of Turkey, stuffing, and pie, the NHL schedule returns the day after Thanksgiving in what is often the most sluggish game of the year for players based in the USA. There’s only so much you can do to avoid the next effects of over-indulging in Turkey day! I’m sure there’ll still be some entertaining games though, let’s get into it.

Boston Bruins defeat New York Rangers -160 

The Bruins playing fewer games than most of their division rivals has them way down in fifth place, and they’ve been pretty unlucky to not get an overtime point here and there in their six losses this season, but the team is coming on now and starting to look seriously dangerous.

The Rangers are no soft competition, and actually have a better record than the Bruins do so far this season, but their underlying numbers are just average. In fact, even if you look at something as basic as goals for and against, the Rangers have barely outscored their competition this season, despite losing in regulation only four times in 19 contests.

I see the Rangers as one of the teams in the top section of the league that will struggle to maintain their pace as the season goes on, whereas the Bruins are built for the long haul. If you’ve been reading my picks so far this season, you know Boston is one of the strongest teams in the league at controlling expected goals, and that’s starting to filter through into actual goals as well.

Philadelphia Flyers defeat Carolina Hurricanes +130

This is a stretch, I know. The Hurricanes are one of the league’s best teams so far, and the Philadelphia Flyers are among the league’s worst teams at controlling scoring chances. Whoever made this part of the schedule for the Flyers where they’d face back-to-back games against the powerhouse Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, then follow it up with the Hurricanes, was truly cruel.

However, the Hurricanes are on their first rough stretch of the season, losing two in a row to low-tier teams in the San Jose Sharks and Seattle Kraken, scoring just one goal per game. The Flyers are actually one of the three teams this year that handed the Hurricanes a regulation loss, and it was on the back of a brilliant performance by Carter Hart. Hart’s bounce-back season has been incredible to see.

With the Hurricanes in a bit of a scoring rut, and the Flyers in need of a win, they could shock a heavily favoured opponent.

Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres to go to overtime +310

Two teams in freefall meet tonight, with the Buffalo Sabres on the verge of completely wasting a strong start to the season as they plummet to the basement of both the standings and the analytical rankings, and the Montreal Canadiens trying and failing to recover from a disastrous start to the season.

The Sabres enter the game on a four-game losing streak, while the Canadiens have won just a single game in their last five. By the analytics, the two teams have some striking similarities as well.

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The Sabres did masterfully dismantle the Canadiens in their first meeting this season, but their game plan has since fallen apart, and both teams appear to be on even footing.

On paper, the Canadiens are definitely a stronger team than the Sabres are, and the scales might get tipped further if Jeff Petry is joined by Joel Edmundson in this one, since Edmundson finally joined practice for the Canadiens recently, but I think there’s a very good chance these teams won’t be able to finish things off in regulation time.

Seattle Kraken defeat Tampa Bay Lightning +160

In normal circumstances, you never really want to pick against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but they’re playing pretty shorthanded with both Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point out of the lineup. Steven Stamkos has been shooting the lights out, but the Lightning aren’t controlling play like they usually do, and their powerplay so far this year is just average, which leaves them far more vulnerable than usual.

Meanwhile, don’t look now but Philipp Grubauer might have found his game. A lot of criticism of the Seattle Kraken might go away if Grubauer stops playing like the worst goaltender in the league. He’s coming off of back-to-back statement wins over excellent teams in the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes, and he has the chance to make another one Friday against the Lightning.

Ironically, the Kraken have been playing worse at even strength as of late, but if Grubauer goes on a run, they might find their game pretty fast and put together a nice streak.