NHL picks: 4 best bets for Friday
Chris Peters makes four money line picks for Friday night's NHL action.
Bruins to beat Maple Leafs
This is an intriguing matchup on so many levels. A win for the Bruins and a loss of any kind for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are playing the Islanders, puts the Bruins into a matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. While I’d probably prefer to play against the Bruins if I were the Leafs, as opposed to the two-time defending champions, you don’t ever want to open the door for an opponent on your own. That’s a “be careful what you wish for” type of scenario.
I expect Toronto to come out firing in this game to control their own destiny in the next round, which they’ve already secured home ice for. That said, I think the goaltending matchup expected in this game significantly favors the Bruins. Jeremy Swayman is expected to get the nod for Boston and he’s been surging in the second half of the season. The Leafs will counter with rookie Erik Kallgren, who has been very inconsistent and owns an unsightly .886 save percentage.
Boston hasn’t beaten the Leafs this season yet, but they have something to play for here as I think Boston would also much rather play Toronto than have to face one of Carolina or Florida in the next round. I think there’s going to be a full effort from the Bruins to secure the win here and at least attempt to set up that first-round matchup. If Tampa wins, it’s all moot anyway.
Senators to beat Flyers
This game has no bearing on the playoff race and it really doesn’t matter in the race to the bottom either. The Canadiens are locked into last place in the NHL, have the best odds to win the draft lottery, and neither of these teams can move up or down much where they are currently – both in the bottom seven of the league.
The Sens are just playing a little bit better to end the season and it seems like there are enough guys on that roster with something to prove for next season. Ottawa’s young team has stayed hungry and pushed to the end as opposed to just going through the motions like it seems the Flyers have been. Ottawa did suffer a 4-0 loss to the Panthers on Saturday night, but had won their four previous games before that.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, is playing at home and probably would like to close out the home schedule with a win. They did beat Pittsburgh on home ice last week, but then lost two straight to non-playoff teams in Chicago and Winnipeg. That gave them eight losses in their last 10 games.
I’d normally side with the home team here, but I just haven’t liked what I’ve been seeing out of the Flyers, while the Sens still seem like they’re playing.
Flames to beat Jets
The Jets are one of the few teams that won’t be done after tomorrow as they have one more rescheduled game for May 1 where they’ll play the Seattle Kraken at home. That will be the last game of the NHL regular season and it really won’t mean squat.
The Flames, meanwhile, have home ice through the first two rounds and will just be closing out their schedule in Winnipeg. It’s not much of a meaningful game for the Flames aside from not wanting to stumble into the playoffs.
They just lost a close game to the Wild and now have to go play Winnipeg on the second half of a road back to back and their third road game in four days. Still, I don’t see the Flames having a let down as they prepare for what should be a lengthy run in the playoffs.
It doesn’t look like the Flames are going to rest their stars, which is probably bad news for the Jets and good news for bettors. Winnipeg has picked up two especially impressive wins over Colorado and Philadelphia, but I think catching the Flames after a loss right before they head into the postseason is a bad time to catch them.
Oilers to beat Canucks
The Oilers have won six of their last seven games after squeaking out an OT win over the Sharks on Thursday night. But it was also their fourth game in their last five where they scored at least five goals. With this being the final game of the regular season on home ice and a chance to give back to the fans that have stuck by them all year, I don’t anticipate a let-down from Edmonton here.
They know where they’ll be in the first round, so the pressure is off in this game. And I think that might be when the Oilers play their best. It won’t be a pushover game though as the Canucks have a lot of guys playing for jobs and opportunities next season in this one.
The Canucks have won two straight, but got a nice emotional OT win over the Los Angeles Kings in their last home game Thursday night. With the Oilers not having to travel after the game and with their offense clicking like it is, I don’t see much need to pick against them in their home finale. Expect McDavid and Draisaitl to put on a show for the exclamation point on this regular season.