NHL picks: 4 best bets for Saturday
Andrew Berkshire provides his best NHL picks and predictions for Saturday's action, including the Battle of Alberta.
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Sometimes you have to swing for the fences, and this is going to be one of those weekends. We’ve got an extreme longshot bet that’s just too enticing to ignore, and we’re saying go for it. For the rest, we’re plumbing the depths of the league, taking a look at two teams at their lowest points, and two of the worst teams in the NHL.
The season started so promising for the Sabres and Flyers, but neither team could maintain it. The Sabres are making some legitimate progress in their rebuild, supporting their players in roles that make sense, and seeing some players, like Tage Thompson, make huge steps forward.
The Flyers meanwhile, are in a lot more flux. Beset by some horrible injury luck and a disastrous coaching staff to start the year, no one really knows what they’re going to do after seemingly attempting to go all in last summer. Is a rebuild the next move? For right now, they’ve lost 11 straight games.
The Sabres and Flyers are about equally bad this season, but Buffalo has been finding ways to win the odd game here and there, while the Flyers seem completely lost.
Sometimes you have to go a little bit crazy. The Colorado Avalanche haven’t lost a game in regulation in 11 straight, only dropping one overtime match in that time. They are a legitimate Stanley Cup contender and the odds-on favourite to win it all.
The Montreal Canadiens are on pace for the worst season of their franchise’s history, and the worst season in the NHL for a non-expansion team since the 1990-91 Quebec Nordiques tanked for Eric Lindros.
The confluence of these factors has produced absolutely absurd odds for the Canadiens to win, and the funny thing about hockey is it rarely makes sense. There’s a lot of randomness inherent in the sport, and while the Canadiens continue to get outplayed, Samuel Montembeault has suddenly starting playing lights out, and the Canadiens are scoring on chances at a high rate. This is worth the risk.
While Montembeault has been playing great the last few games, the Canadiens are coming off of giving up 50 or more shots against for two straight games for the first time in franchise history. So even though Montembeault has been stopping 93.2 per cent of the shots he faces, he’s still giving up over three goals per game.
Against the team with the highest shooting percentage in the league, giving up that kind of shot volume is an issue, but the Avalanche haven’t had the best goaltending so far this year either. This one has big time goal potential.
A month ago, this game would have been circled on the schedule as one of the most exciting to watch of the season. The sizzling hot Flames and Oilers were dominating the Pacific Division to that point, and both have fallen apart since.
The Flames haven’t bottomed out nearly as hard as the Oilers have though, with Jacob Markstrom giving them some brilliant starts here and there to help them dig themselves out of trouble.
The Oilers haven’t had that level of help from their goaltending, which has been genuinely terrible all season, and even worse during these struggles. With Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl going relatively cold, the weakness of the rest of the Oilers’ roster has been exposed over and over again.
Eventually, both these teams are going to dig themselves out of these ruts, but he Flames are already working towards it, while the Oilers look completely lost.