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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We’re on a bit of a roll here with the picks we’ve been making over the last couple of weeks, so let’s see if we can keep it going!
This is a bit of a wild one, make no mistake. I’m going for a bit of gut feel with this pick. The Coyotes are 0-8-1 to start the season, one of two teams without a win through the NHL’s first month, and dead last in the league’s standings.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, has all the makings of a solid team. It has a decent roster with a goaltender who seems to have solidly rebounded into what we all expect, with Carter Hart posting a .915 save percentage so far this season.
However, would you believe me if I told you that Arizona has posted almost the same underlying numbers at even strength as Philadelphia has so far this season? The Coyotes are slightly ahead in expected goal ratio, 46.4 per cent to 46 per cent, and control of shot attempts, at 46.4 per cent to 45.7 per cent, while both struggle to control high danger chances at essentially the exact same rate, 43.4 per cent.
Some of that comes from the Coyotes always playing from behind - score effects influence overall numbers - but the takeaway should be that the Flyers really have not been very good so far, and yet 60.7 per cent of the goals are going their way, as opposed to the 33.3 per cent of even-strength goals that the Coyotes have managed to control.
One team has been very lucky, the other very unlucky, and sometimes things manage to flip for both teams at the same time. This one is risky, but Arizona winning would be well worth the wager.
There’s been no shortage of criticism tossed Kaprizov’s way for his slow start this season. Goalless in eight games after signing a gigantic contract that seemed to be way above market value in the offseason is a tough pill for Wild fans to swallow, but let me offer some encouragement.
While the embattled Russian winger has been called everything from greedy to lazy on social media, his 26 shots through eight games is actually a higher shot rate than last season. Last year he managed 157 shots through 55 games, and this year he’s on pace for 179 through that same number.
Overall, his game isn’t as strong as it was last season, but I’m not ready to say he’s going to be a disappointment yet. Remember that last year Kaprizov, like all NHLers, only played within his own division. He may not be a rookie on technicalities, but he is essentially an NHL rookie in most of his games this season. He will adjust, and he’s due for a goal or two. Why not tonight?
The Senators can be a frustrating team for even the best in the league to battle. They’ve received some good goaltending, they work really hard every night, and they have just enough talent that’s allowed to go out there and create that they can score in bunches if they get going. However, Minnesota has been incredible at even strength this year.
No team has been better at controlling shot quality than the Wild have, with a sterling 57.1 per cent expected goals ratio, and unlike their usual style of controlling the net front and allowing tons of medium and low danger shots, the Wild are actually controlling play by all aspects this season.
The issue for the Wild this season, and one that’s kept them from being one of the hottest teams in the league, has been terrible special teams. At 5-vs-5, they’re the tops in the league, but add in special teams and their expected goal rate drops six percentage points, nudging them outside the top-10.
Staying out of the box against a young, hard working Senators team is going to be key to the win in this one. After dropping their last two in a row, expect the Wild to come out really strong in this one.
After their red hot start to the season, things have started to settle down for the Buffalo Sabres. They’re now just barely hanging on to expected goals differential above 50 per cent at 5-vs-5 and in all situations. That isn’t to say they’re about to tumble down the standings, but they aren’t the dominant team that we saw from their first few games either.
Luckily, their opponent is another team dealing with a wakeup call of sorts, as San Jose’s blisteringly hot start has also slowed down of late. They’ve lost three of four, and haven’t won in regulation since October 22.
The Sharks have feasted on special teams, but have been one of the NHL’s worst teams at 5-vs-5, which the Sabres should be able to take advantage of. While the Sharks have better processes on their special teams, the Sabres have still seen more success there in the short term, with the fifth-best powerplay in the league, and seventh-best penalty kill.