NHL picks: 4 best bets for Saturday
Chris Peters makes four money line picks for Saturday night's NHL action.
Golden Knights to beat Oilers
The Golden Knights are playing for their playoff lives, while the Oilers are nearly a lock. Coming off of a 6-1 win over first-place Calgary, the Golden Knights showed a lot of fight and should have some confidence as they head up the road in Alberta for a road contest in Edmonton.
The Oilers, meanwhile, just had a convincing 4-0 win over Nashville. Before Friday’s games, the Oilers were at 98.7 per cent to reach the playoffs on MoneyPuck.com. Edmonton also has two wins in their three games against the Golden Knights.
Vegas is finally starting to get healthy, though. Jack Eichel has points in six straight games, Mark Stone has two games under his belt and likely won’t be held off the score sheet much longer. Shea Theodore has four points in his last three games and Evgenii Dadanov, who had his trade to Anaheim voided, has rewarded the Golden Knights with five points in his last three contests. They’re really clicking as a group in a way that may end up being too little, too late, but if they can secure two points in Edmonton, they’re a step closer to being back in the conversation.
According to MoneyPuck.com, before Friday night’s games, Vegas has a 54 per cent chance of reaching the postseason. They’re hunting down the Los Angeles Kings and have an honest shot to catch them, but they desperately need this game. Having won their last contest in Edmonton and because they’ve had the lighter travel in the last few days, I’ll go with the Golden Knights to keep hope alive with a win in this game.
Capitals to beat Canadiens
The Caps just got absolutely embarrassed by the Toronto Maple Leafs on the road Thursday, which probably won’t sit too well with this veteran team. Washington is playing more for seeding than anything else as their playoff hopes are almost locked in stone though they have not officially clinched as of Friday afternoon.
Montreal is getting a morale boost as Carey Price made his season debut Friday, but now they’ve got to play in back-to-back games with rookie Cayden Primeau likely to get the nod Saturday.
In two prior meetings against the Caps, Montreal has allowed a total of 11 goals, while losing both games. A win here for Washington also moves the Caps closer to the Pittsburgh Penguins who are five points ahead in the standings and hold third place in the Metropolitan Division. If the playoffs ended today, Washington would be playing the first-place Florida Panthers in what would be an especially tough matchup for them. So they can’t let chances against weaker teams pass them by.
Also don’t underestimate Alex Ovechkin’s hunger to reach 50 goals. He’s at 46 currently with just eight games to reach the illustrious half-century mark. Expect him to be a factor in the game and expect the Caps to roll.
Maple Leafs to beat Senators
After rolling over Washington Thursday, the Maple Leafs will have their final Battle of Ontario matchup with the pesky Senators. Toronto has won each of the last two meetings between the two clubs and has won eight of their last 10 games. That 7-3 victory over Washington was one of several emphatic performances for Toronto where they just seemingly scored at will.
In seven of their last 10 games, the Leafs have scored five or more goals. When you’re scoring like that, there’s not a ton of concern about goaltending problems. Rookie Erik Kallgren is expected to get the net Saturday and he’s had his ups and downs since a hot start. The Leafs will be without Jake Muzzin on defense as well. Despite his absence, I just can’t see Toronto letting this one get away from them.
The one game Toronto did lose to Ottawa was on the road, as this game will be. Down the stretch this season, the Sens have been a tough out, too. They’ve won each of their last two games and haven’t had too many clunkers. A 6-1 loss to New York last week was their toughest defeat, amid a three-game losing streak that was sandwiched by multiple wins. Ottawa is certainly not simply rolling over and letting this season end with a thud.
I expect a good fight, but with the way Toronto has been scoring of late, I don’t think the Sens will be able to stop them.
Lightning to beat Jets
The Lightning are essentially chasing the Maple Leafs for home ice advantage in the first round, while also staving off a pursuit by the Boston Bruins that sit just three points behind them for the first wild card spot. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, hasn’t been playing its best hockey of late. They’ve lost five of their last seven games and needed overtime to beat the Anaheim Ducks, which are well out of the playoffs.
Now they welcome the Winnipeg Jets who have the slimmest of playoff hopes at this point and face a near impossible task to reach the postseason. The Jets will also be playing in the second of back-to-back games after playing the Panthers Friday night. They had won their two games prior to that as part of this eastern road swing that has two more games after Saturday’s contest.
Tampa Bay may be safe to get into the postseason, but they’ve got to start playing better. In the only prior meeting between these two clubs this season, Winnipeg earned a 7-4 win. The Jets just haven’t been able to find any level of consistency this season, which has been a bit of a grind.
The Lightning are going to feel some pressure and have to find a way to take advantage of both home ice and the fact the other team is on a long road trip and playing in back-to-back games. I’ve got the Bolts in a close one here.