NHL picks: 4 best bets for Friday
Chris Peters makes four money line picks for Friday night's NHL action.
Rangers to beat Islanders
This battle of New York doesn’t have as much weight in terms of playoff implications, but that won’t make it any less entertaining. The Rangers are riding a four-game winning streak during which they scored at least five goals in three of those victories.
Meanwhile, the Isles are coming off of a home-and-home sweep against the Columbus Blue Jackets. They’re well out of the playoff picture still, but they’ve played much better down the stretch this season with wins in nine of their last 13 games.
The road team has won the two previous meetings between these two clubs as they’ve split the season series to date.
This should be a good goaltending matchup, too, as the Rangers are expected to have Vezina Trophy favorite Igor Shesterkin start the game. He has played the Islanders six times in his career and has gone a surprising 1-5 against them. This season, however, he started both games and has a .939 save percentage while going 1-1. He’s also got a .936 save percentage to lead all NHL starters this season. He’s also been especially dominant at home with a 17-3-2 record, .943 save percentage and 1.88 goals-against average. He’s tough to bet against on home ice.
The Islanders have enough offensive weapons to keep the opposition honest, though. Brock Nelson has 32 goals this season and Mathew Barzal is at 46 points in 57 games. The Rangers just have more depth this season and are playing better overall right now.
With Shesterkin playing as well as he has all season, especially on home ice, I’ve got to go with the Rangers in this one.
Senators to beat Red Wings
It has been an emotional few days for the Ottawa Senators following the passing of owner Eugene Melnyk. They’ve had a few days to digest the news and after taking a loss in their first game after the tragic news, you’d have to think they’re going to be a motivated team in tonight’s game.
The Red Wings, meanwhile have really struggled of late. It’s been a bit of a spiral after such a promising start to the season. They’ve won just three of their 14 games in the month of March, became the first team in the salary cap era to allow 11 goals in a game and, aside from putting a scare in playoff teams like Tampa Bay and the Rangers, they haven’t been much of a threat.
The Sens are one of the league’s basement-dwelling teams, but they’re getting healthier, though will still be without top defenseman Thomas Chabot. The young forwards in the Senators lineup can be a handful, though, and they’re all in the lineup.
I have a little more faith in the Sens right now even though I think Detroit is a better team than they’ve showed in the last month.
Blues to beat Oilers
The last month has not been the best for the Blues, but a home-and-home sweep of the Vancouver Canucks was an impressive pair of games that got the Blues back to playing the way they need to play to win. They’re going to be a threatening team in the playoffs because of their physicality and the skill they have up front. Now they’ve got a tough test against an Edmonton team that has looked a heck of a lot better lately.
Coming off a shootout win over the Kings, the Oilers have won three of their last four, but they’ve struggled with consistency. They did string five straight wins together in early March, but have had lapses against fellow playoff teams in recent weeks including an embarrassing 9-5 loss to Calgary.
I just think the Blues are a bit better equipped in this game, especially if goalie Ville Husso is starting. He’s been a huge difference maker for the team this year. He’s been a little less consistent of late, but still owns a .923 save percentage and a solid 18-6-4 record between the pipes.
I think there’s good value on the Blues as an underdog in this particular contest. Keep an eye on the goaltending matchup as I don’t have as much faith in Jordan Binnington if he gets the nod, but I like the Blues as a road dog here, especially after how well they played Vancouver this week.
Golden Knights to beat Kraken
After a major stumble through March, the Golden Knights are back on track with three straight wins including a 3-0 shutout victory on the road against Seattle. They’ll run it back in Seattle in a battle of the NHL’s two newest teams.
Seattle has been the exact opposite of what Vegas was in their first year. The Golden Knights made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final and the Kraken are starting to wonder if they can win the draft lottery to get the top pick for this year’s draft.
The Golden Knights are ravaged by injuries currently, but they’re still deeper than the Kraken. In the last game between the two, goalie Chris Driedger performed admirably for Seattle, stopping 27 of 29, but got no goal support.
The Kraken are actually in one of their better stretches of the season right now with four wins over their last seven games, but having just watched them struggle to get anything going against the Golden Knights, there’s little reason to expect tonight’s game will be any different.