NHL Best Bets Tonight
The NHL has a nice slate of games on Saturday, including a massive showdown between the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. As most teams now only have a dozen or so games left, many teams are entering crunch time while others will try to play spoiler over the final weeks.
Edmonton Oilers At Florida Panthers
Starting at 2:00 PM EST, the Florida Panthers will try and pick up a critical two points at home against the Edmonton Oilers. The Panthers are the hottest team in the East, going 8-1-1 over their last ten to move within three points of the final Wild Card spot.
With the Edmonton Oilers all but eliminated from the playoffs, the Oilers will try and play the role of spoiler for the remainder of the season. The Oilers have played much better against Eastern Conference teams on the road (6-4-2 compared to 4-11 at home). The Oilers are better as an underdog against the East, (going 6-5-2 as a dog compared to 4-10 as a favourite).
The Panthers beat the Oilers in Edmonton 7-5 (back in February). Before that win, the Oilers had won seven of their last nine meetings against the Panthers. The Panthers are on a roll right now and have the much more to play for. Look for Florida to pick up two points in a high-scoring game.
Boston Bruins At Tampa Bay Lightning
Arguably the biggest game of the night sees the Boston Bruins play the Lightning in Tampa Bay. Just four points for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference separate the two teams. This is the first of three games between these two clubs.
The Bruins will conclude their four-game road trip with this game against the Lightning, going 1-2-0 in the first three, despite being the favourite in all three. Boston is 6-1 against Tampa Bay in their last seven games. Boston won the first meeting this season 3-2.
The Boston Bruins have a chance to upset Tampa Bay at home. The Bruins have not had a 1-3 stretch since mid-November. However, Tampa Bay is coming in well-rested, playing just once in (a 7-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators) since March 10.
Montreal Canadiens At Toronto Maple Leafs
As the injuries start to pile up for the Maple Leafs, Toronto welcomes to town their biggest rival, the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night. The Leafs have won three straight and set a franchise with their 11 straight home win this week, and there is little reason to doubt they cannot extend it.
The Montreal Canadiens have even more injuries than the Maple Leafs. The Canadiens have also lost five straight games on the road and 12 of their last 13 outside of Montreal. The Canadiens nine road wins are tied for the fewest in the NHL this season, while their 2.26 road goals per game are last in the league (despite Montreal generating the sixth most shots on the road).
The Leafs have won two straight games against Montreal. Montreal had won 14 consecutive games over Toronto. However, the two franchises are much different, with Canadiens trending down and the Leafs positioning themselves as serious Stanley Cup contenders for the next few years. Take the Leafs to extend their winning streak over Montreal.
Ottawa Senators At Columbus Blue Jackets
Entering the game with the longest active winning streak in the NHL, the Columbus Blue Jackets will try to gain some separation in the Wild Card race. Columbus hosts Ottawa who will fly to Ohio on Friday night, after playing the Dallas Stars.
The Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets split their two earlier meetings this season, with the home team winning each. The Senators have the overall edge in their last ten meetings, going 6-3-1. Ottawa has also pulled off a few sizeable upsets in the previous month (beating Tampa Bay, Vegas and Dallas all on the road).
The Ottawa Senators are a reasonable underdog to wager, especially on the puck line. The Senators are 21-14 against the spread on the road this season. Look for the Senators to snap the Blue Jackets winning streak on Saturday night.
New York Rangers At St. Louis Blues
Even with a top-five defence, the St. Louis Blues find themselves outside the playoffs with a dozen games left to play. The Blues will try to get back into the playoff picture when they host a reeling New York Rangers squad on Saturday.
The Rangers are one of the NHL’s worst road teams this season. The group allows the most shots per game on the road (37.79 per game) and struggle to stop teams from scoring ranking 26th allowing 3.44 goals per game.
The Rangers are 6-8 on the road against Western Conference teams (including winning their last three). However, they are officially in tanking mode and have little to play for against the Blues.
San Jose Sharks At Vancouver Canucks
The final game of the night sees two Pacific Division rivals clash in Vancouver. The Sharks currently sit in second in the Pacific Division but have just a three-point lead over the ninth-place team in the West. The Canucks, who are well out of a playoff, are feeling down the standings fast. Vancouver is only two points ahead of Arizona for last in the West.
The Canucks have struggled against San Jose over the last few seasons. San Jose is 8-1-1 against Vancouver in their last ten. The Canucks did win 4-3 in overtime at home against San Jose back in December. However, the Canucks are continuing to deal with injuries. The Canucks recently removed their star rookie Brock Boeser from the IR, although he remains doubtful for Saturday.
Boeser is the Canucks best player and without him, the team has played very poorly. Even if he comes back, expect some rust and the Canucks losing to continue against the Sharks.
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