NHL picks: 4 best bets for Saturday
Chris Peters makes four money line picks for Saturday night's NHL action.
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Oilers to beat Devils
The Oilers have won four straight games and have scored no fewer than four goals in each of those victories. They’ve also gotten solid-enough goaltending and have reinvigorated their season. The Devils, meanwhile, have lost two straight on this brief three-game road swing through Western Canada. In each of those games, they allowed six goals.
The Devils aren’t really in the race at this point and may be losing players to trades as the NHL trade deadline approaches, but they’ve had their moments this season. They’re not just a pushover team.
Despite the Devils being a bit better than their record indicates, the Oilers are really surging right now. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are heating up again, they’ve defended better as a team and they’re getting the saves. On top of that, they’ll be on home ice against a team that is playing its third road game in five days. All signs point to an Oilers win.
Predators to beat Maple Leafs
Nashville is in one of its toughest stretches of the season based on their opponents the last several weeks. It doesn’t get easier when the Maple Leafs roll into town Saturday. Toronto is coming off of two straight wins with rookie goalie Erik Kallgren stealing the show and making the saves the Leafs were not getting before.
If Kallgren gets the nod again, he’ll be going into one of the toughest away buildings in the league. The Preds haven’t dominated at home, but it will be a hostile environment for the rookie. The Leafs probably don’t have a choice but to play him with Petr Mrazek sputtering and Jack Campbell injured.
As for the Preds, they have had a lot of success of late. They’ve won five of their last seven, but will be returning home from a tough road loss in Philadelphia on Thursday. Additionally, they’ve scored four or more goals in six of their last seven games. Nashville’s scoring attack is about as hot as it’s ever been.
The Leafs will be getting Auston Matthews back from his suspension and they can score with the best of ‘em, but I think Nashville is where Kallgren’s early season shine fades a little and opens the door for the Predators.
Canadiens to beat Senators
The Habs have lost two straight, but they’ve been competitive in every game of late and they’ve been especially tough to play against at home. Ottawa, meanwhile, will be on the second half of a back-to-back after playing Philadelphia at home. While it’s not far to travel, it’s still tough to win those second halves of back-to-backs on the road.
The Canadiens have gotten remarkable production out of rookie Cole Caufield, who has been on a scoring tear since Martin St. Louis took over. He’s ascended to second on the team in scoring with 29 points in 46 games, and 21 of those points have come in his last 18 games.
Even though Montreal has sustained some significant losses via trade, they’ve still got enough pieces to compete against a Sens team that still hasn’t really put it together and may not. Going into that Friday night contest against the Flyers, Ottawa had lost seven of their previous nine games in March.
Montreal is just playing better hockey right now and I believe Caufield and Nick Suzuki should carry them on home ice.
Canucks to beat Flames
No one wants to run into the Flames right now, especially when they’re on home ice. They’ve been among the NHL’s best teams since January and continue to look solid. However, they’re going to be the road team on the second half of a back-to-back.
Vancouver won the last meeting between these two teams 7-1, as the Canucks thwarted the Flames’ 10-game winning streak. The only other meeting between the two teams ended in a 1-0 win for Calgary. So the Canucks have played the Flames about as well as anyone so far this season.
The Canucks have lost three of their last four, including a tough 1-0 loss to the struggling Detroit Red Wings. But I don’t think you can keep their offense down for terribly long. They have too many weapons. Calgary is a stingy team, but I will often lean towards the side that isn’t playing back-to-backs, especially if that team is at home.
The Flames are one of the league’s best teams and I have a tough time picking against them, but I like the Canucks to find a way in this one.