NHL betting tips: 4 picks and predictions for Thursday
Our expert has picked out four teams to back on the money line in the NHL on Thursday.
Toronto Maple Leafs to beat Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks beat the Maple Leafs in their first two games back after a long pause as the team dealt with a COVID-19 outbreak, but have won just one game since.
This will be Vancouver’s fifth game in seven days and the weariness seemed to show in Wednesday night’s loss to the Ottawa Senators. Now faced with a back-to-back, Vancouver has to take on a Maple Leafs team that has won all three games since those tough losses to the Canucks.
The Leafs will also be on the second half of a back-to-back after beating Montreal 4-1 on Wednesday night. They’ll likely end up putting David Rittich between the pipes with Jack Campbell having started last night. Rittich is winless in his first two starts with Toronto and his season save percentage has sunk below .900. However, I think Toronto’s offense may just be able to do the job here.
Vancouver is being asked a lot of since their return from quarantine. They are trying to get in all of the games they missed and have to do it in a short amount of time.
They’re still without Elias Pettersson and likely will be for the remainder of the season. Braden Holtby is going to have to have a special performance in net if they’re going to have a chance as Toronto has scored four or more goals in each of their last three games.
Edmonton Oilers to beat Calgary Flames
The Flames have just a 12.9 per cent chance to reach the postseason according to MoneyPuck.com’s playoff probabilities. The season has been slipping away slowly from them and the Edmonton Oilers would probably love nothing more than to twist the knife with another win tonight against their hated Alberta rival.
The Oilers have won six of their last eight contests and are 5-3-0 this season against the Flames. Though Calgary has played them tough and will surely look to make things difficult for Edmonton, the Oilers seem too locked in right now to truly slow down.
The benefit the Flames have is rest. The Oilers are coming off of a Wednesday-night win over the Winnipeg Jets, while Calgary hasn’t played in three days. I think that will make the game close, but Edmonton can tighten their grip on home ice in the first round of the playoffs if they can keep stacking up wins.
Washington Capitals to beat Pittsburgh Penguins
With wins in seven of their last nine games, the Caps are rolling right now. I like their chances against a Penguins squad that has gotten the better of Washington in four of six games so far this season.
These two clubs have not met since February 25, when Washington earned a 5-2 win over the Pens. It’s been a long time and in this rivalry, I’m not sure absence would make the heart grow fonder. These two teams will play just two more games, both being played in Washington.
The intensity of this game should be pretty significant as first place in the East Division is on the line here. Washington has a game in hand on the Pens but now have a chance to create some of their own distance.
However, if the Caps are going to do it, they may have to do it without Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson as neither took the morning skate on Thursday. Ovechkin has been out for the last few games and Carlson will be a game-time decision.
So tread carefully, but I think the Caps as a group have been rolling since the trade deadline and will continue to.
Minnesota Wild to beat St. Louis Blues
The Wild suffered an ugly comeback defeat at the hands of the Blues on Wednesday night. They can get right back after it and shake that one off.
This game matters a heck of a lot more to the Blues than it does to the Wild as St. Louis continues to solidify its positioning for that fourth and final playoff spot in the West.
The Wild, with really nothing to lose, want to make sure they’re playing their best hockey heading into the postseason. With Cam Talbot starting Wednesday, we should see Kaapo Kahkonen in net for Minnesota Thursday night. The Finnish rookie is 14-7-0 with a .910 save percentage in 20 starts so far this season. He’s only seen the Blues once this season and it didn’t go well, but I’ll lean on what he’s shown over the course of the full season as opposed to just that one game.
These two teams play a bunch over the next few weeks to close out the schedule and, while the Blues have really taken it to Minnesota this season, I like the Wild to bounce back from yesterday’s disappointing collapse.