NHL picks: 4 best bets for Saturday
Chris Peters makes four money line picks for Saturday night's NHL action.
Maple Leafs to beat Canadiens
With six wins in their last seven games including a thrilling OT victory over the Dallas Stars Thursday night, the Maple Leafs are back on track and looking like a team trending in the right direction ahead of the playoffs. Saturday, however, they’ll meet a team that has been a thorn in their side all season. After beating Montreal in the season opener, Toronto has lost each of the last two games to the Habs.
The home team has won all three games of the season series to date and Toronto will close out the series on home ice tonight. Montreal has won two of their last three games including a 7-4 road win over New Jersey on Thursday. They looked very good in that game, but they’re taking on a team that is rolling right now.
On top of the important points on the table for Toronto in tonight’s game, Auston Matthews is on the cusp of scoring 50 goals over a 50-game span including 10 over his last eight games. He set the Maple Leafs’ single-season goal-scoring record by scoring his 55th goal against Dallas and then scored his 56th for good measure, becoming the highest single-season goal scorer among American-born players in NHL history. He’s not done yet. Look for him to make a significant impact on the game and lead the Maple Leafs to another win.
Flames to beat Kraken
The Kraken have won two of their last three games including a shutout win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday on the road. Now they’re back home and while they might have a little momentum going, it’s hard to imagine that continuing against the Calgary Flames.
The Flames are currently undefeated on their current Pacific road swing that will close out in Seattle Saturday night. They’ve secured wins over Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Jose, all games that were closer than expected. The Flames had lost their previous three games, so this has been a chance for them to get back on track. This will be their fourth game in six days, so the Flames could have a little road weariness as well.
Calgary has won the previous two meetings between these two teams and they could not be farther apart in the divisional standings. The Flames lead the Pacific while the Kraken are dead last. This should be a chance for the Flames to end their road trip on a high note.
Canucks to beat Sharks
The Canucks are clinging to the slimmest of playoff hopes at this point, which has been bolstered by a pair of 5-1 wins in their last two games on the road. They’ll be back in Vancouver and essentially need to win out to have a chance at the postseason. Expect a motivated Canucks squad to push to their absolute limit to secure two points in this game.
The Sharks, meanwhile, are basically playing out the season with no hope of reaching the postseason and it hasn’t been pretty. They’ve lost five straight and six of their last seven games and are about to embark on a five-game road trip starting with Vancouver.
With something to play for, however slim it might be, expect the Canucks to bring it and extend their playoff hopes for just a little bit longer.
Oilers to beat Avalanche
In what should be the game of the night, the Oilers will welcome the Colorado Avalanche in a battle of two of the league’s most skilled teams. The Avs will be coming into the game after a hard-fought 5-4 OT win over Winnipeg Friday night. Being in the second half of a back-to-back gives me some concern about Colorado’s chances in this game.
The Oilers haven’t clinched a playoff spot yet, but they’re close. MoneyPuck.com is giving Edmonton a 98.6 per cent chance of reaching the postseason. They’re on the cusp. But more than making the playoffs, the Oilers have to continually prove themselves against the best quality opponents. This is a golden opportunity for them as they take on a road-weary Avalanche squad.
Edmonton is rolling right now, too. They’ve won six straight games and are only home for Saturday night before hitting the road for two more road contests after playing three last week. They’re down to their final 10 games of the season and can really surge into the playoffs with some momentum.
With the Avs playing an overtime game Friday night and having to travel to Edmonton, I like how this schedule sets up a bit better for the Oilers than the Avs. Both teams are playing great hockey right now, but I think Edmonton could catch Colorado at just the right time to nab two points.