NHL betting: 4 picks and predictions for Saturday night
Andrew Berkshire provides his best NHL picks and predictions for Saturday night's action.
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As the NHL season continues on, the cream of the crop is slowly rising. After rough starts to the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche are finally playing how they’re expected to, and the Vegas Golden Knights are looking stronger after Mark Stone returned from injury. And then there’s the Anaheim Ducks, who are shocking the hockey world, but can they keep it up? Let’s find out.
The Maple Leafs are red hot at the moment, rebounding from early season doldrums and ice cold shooting luck, but for some reason they really struggle against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Penguins, for their part, have been struggling of late, but their underlying numbers have remained exceptionally strong despite a rash of injuries that most teams wouldn’t survive. Their beatdown of the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday looked like a jumping off point for a team that’s doing all the right things but can’t manage to get into the win column.
Another factor helping the Penguins is that Sidney Crosby started to look like himself in his last game, after a rough start to the year coming off of surgery and then a bout with COVID-19.
Tristan Jarry hasn’t been nearly as strong as Jack Campbell this year, but he’s still been good, and with how well the Leafs have been humming along, they’re a little due for an off game.
After a stretch of decent games without getting positive results, the Montreal Canadiens have fallen back into being a complete mess, especially on the defensive side of the puck.
The team has failed to score more than two goals in all but four of their 19 games played so far, and facing a strong goaltender like Juuse Saros isn’t going to make anything easier.
The Canadiens have played the Predators well in recent years, but how much of that was playing hard for captain Shea Weber against his former team is up for debate, and he’s no longer around.
The Predators have also been pretty hot over their last 10 games, losing in regulation just twice. It’s possible that Cole Caufield and Mattias Norlinder catch fire and help the Canadiens play some more respectable hockey, but the team is still a mess defensively. Until they sort things out, they aren’t reliable.
The Calgary Flames have been pretty excellent this season, dominating transition play and becoming one of the most dangerous rush teams in the league. Darryl Sutter has fixed most of what has ailed the Flames in previous seasons, and they rank sixth in the NHL in expected goals for differential at even strength.
In contrast, the Islanders haven’t been the team many expected so far, sitting at the bottom of the Metropolitan division with a 5-6-2 record, with an expected goals for percentage at even strength of just 50.24 per cent.
Here’s the thing though, the Islanders have been on a 13-game road trip to start the season as they’ve been awaiting the opening of their new arena. This game marks the first game the Islanders will play in front of their own fans this season, after more than a full month on the road. Some things go beyond stats and figures, and my bet is this team is going to come out of the gate with the best game we’ve seen from them all season.
This is a wild swing, but listen for a second before laughing. After starting the season red hot by all measures, the Oilers have fallen to 19th in the NHL in expected goals for percentage at even strength.
Their powerplay remains killer, and Connor McDavid is a cheat code no other team can counter, but the Oilers have sort of been floating to wins by the skin of their teeth and due to late game McDavid heroics for a couple of weeks now.
Chicago is straight up bad, but they’re feeling themselves right now with four straight wins, and for whatever reason the Oilers have had trouble putting them away in recent years. It’s not a huge chance that the Blackhawks can pull off this win, but the Oilers are going to be so favoured heading in, that it makes sense to take the counter bet with how things have been going behind the scenes over the last stretch.