NHL picks: 4 best bets for Wednesday night
Andrew Berkshire provides his best NHL picks and predictions for Wednesday night's action.
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Thanksgiving is upending the usual concentration of games for this week’s NHL schedule, so instead of Tuesdays, Thursdays, or Saturdays, we’re bringing you picks for Wednesday and Friday this week. We’ve got a packed schedule on Wednesday for once, so let’s get into it.
At 9-6-0 and coming off of a loss, the Bruins have been a little underwhelming so far this season in terms of results, but the underlying numbers on their play have been spectacular. In all situations only the Toronto Maple Leafs have been better at controlling expected goals than the Bruins’ 54.3 per cent ratio. So far, they’ve only managed to get 51 per cent of the actual goals though, and that should equal out sooner than later.
Facing the Sabres is a great opportunity to start that process, since Buffalo has been in free fall for about a month, and are now 30th in the league in expected goals after leading the NHL early in the season.
The Sabres are actually pretty good defensively, but their offence is incredibly weak, with only the Arizona Coyotes creating fewer opportunities to score per game.
The Great Eight is not slowing down. Not only does Ovechkin have 15 goals in 19 games played this season as he works to catch Wayne Gretzky’s all time scoring record, he’s added 15 assists as well. Ovechkin only had 18 assists in 45 games last season. The season before, he only had 19 in 68 games. As much as Ovechkin is scoring, he’s been an offensive powerhouse in every way so far this season.
Somehow, of those 15 goals, only two of them have come on the powerplay so far this season. The Montreal Canadiens have not only been a terrible defensive team this season, with suspect goaltending, but they’ve also been among the worst penalty killers in the league, giving up almost 12 goals per 60 minutes while a man down.
If you’re feeling really confident about Ovechkin heading into this one, you can augment this one by betting he’ll record multiple points. The fact is, it’s not unlikely.
The Canucks are in a rough place right now. Questions are swirling about the future direction of the franchise, with GM Jim Benning and head coach Travis Green on the hot seat. The poor start from Elias Pettersson has left the Canucks exposed and vulnerable, with their lack of improvement defensively over the last few seasons looking even worse without their best player contributing.
The Penguins meanwhile, finally have Sidney Crosby back, and are suddenly on a three-game winning streak while taking blitzing through Canadian opponents, outscoring them 11-1 over those games. Tristan Jarry has near perfect, but he hasn’t needed to be amazing very often.
The way the Penguins maintained their ability to control play even without their best players in the lineup, even while they couldn’t get into the win column as often as they wanted, shows how dangerous this team is. They don’t get discouraged, and they know if they stick with the process they’ll get rewarded. Against a team whose own process is severely flawed, expect the Penguins to exploit the Canucks repeatedly.
The Flyers are in tough here, on the second-half of a back-to-back set with travel. Luckily, they’re only traveling across Florida from Tampa Bay to Sunrise, but facing the Lightning and Panthers on back-to-back nights is no joke.
After a bit of a dip in play, the Panthers are rolling again, with their depth players pushing the scoring lately. Frank Vatrano and Carter Verhaeghe are suddenly red hot, and even defensive defenseman MacKenzie Weegar is getting on the score sheet.
The Flyers, meanwhile, have lost Ryan Ellis again, and have done the second-worst job in the league at controlling expected goals, at just 44.43 per cent in all situations. The craziest thing about this awful start by the underlying numbers for the Flyers is that analytics punching bag Rasmus Ristolainen has actually been very good this season. There’s just not enough going the Flyers way for me to believe in them though.