NHL picks: 4 best bets for Tuesday night
Andrew Berkshire provides his best NHL picks and predictions for Tuesday night's action.
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Unfortunate news broke on Monday, as the league announced that the Ottawa Senators’ COVID outbreak had become too severe, and they’ll be postponing their next three games. With 10 players on the COVID protocol list, it makes sense to postpone games, but it may put the Olympics in jeopardy if there are outbreaks on other teams that get this bad. Unfortunately, the reality of the pandemic remains something we have to keep an eye on.
The Wild have been the best even strength team in the league so far this season. They lead all teams in expected goals for percentage at 5-vs-5 at 56.28 per cent according to Natural Stat Trick’s model, and rank second by Evolving Hockey’s model at 55.93 per cent.
After a promising start to the year, the San Jose Sharks have dropped down to ranking 30th and 25th by both measures, making this one look like a serious mismatch.
The Wild have under-performed in actual goals compared to their expectations so far this season, while the Sharks have overperformed slightly, but even with that boost of luck the Sharks are being outscored on aggregate. They just don’t appear to be on close to the same level.
It’s been a rough ride of late for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Getting Sidney Crosby back should have been a boost, but he came closer to suplexing a Washington Capital than he did to scoring in his first game back after dealing with a bout of COVID.
Still though, the Penguins are a team who has continued to put up solid underlying numbers without the follow through in goals that should come eventually.
Against a team that’s falling apart at the seams like the Buffalo Sabres right now, the Penguins should be in a good spot to build on their solid play and start creeping back into the win column in short order.
Being on the COVID protocol already this season was a rough start for Scheifele, and after coming back to the lineup, he struggled to get the puck in the net until finally busting his slump with an overtime winner against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.
A career 16 per cent shooter, Scheifele has scored on just 6.3 per cent of his shots so far this season. He’s only played in eight games so far, so it isn’t that long of a slump, but now that he’s put the puck in the net, don’t be surprised if he bursts back up to his normal 30+ goal pace, starting tonight.
So far this season, Ovechkin hasn’t had much trouble continuing to prove he’s the greatest goal scorer this game has ever seen. He’s been shut out a few times, but there hasn’t been a single instance of him being kept off the scoresheet for two straight games.
In fact, he’s only been kept without a point in two of the 15 games he’s played this year for the Washington Capitals, and is on a four-game point streak currently.
Maybe the craziest thing about Ovechkin’s start to the season is that while he’s been shooting the lights out compared to his career average, scoring on 18.5 per cent of his shots compared to 12.8 per cent for his career, that’s nowhere close to the outlandish, unsustainable levels of scoring that others in his goal range are experiencing - Leon Draisaitl is currently scoring on almost 32 per cent of shots.
The Russian Machine that Never Breaks looks more determined than ever to break Wayne Gretzky’s scoring record. He’s going to pot one.