Andrew Berkshire picks out his four best NHL bets for Thursday.
We’re at that point in the season where most of the talk around the NHL is about the trade deadline, but there are lots of other stories that should be catching eyes as well. Big time players returning from injury, franchise favourites returning to be honoured, red-hot teams clashing in marquee matchups, and more. No matter what kind of story you like, there’s a place to put a bet down in the NHL.
Max Pacioretty (Carolina Hurricanes) to score anytime vs Columbus Blue Jackets
If there was any doubt that the 34-year-old Pacioretty would rebound well from the shoulder surgery that sidelined him for nearly half of the 2022-23 season, he’s quickly putting that to rest. Three games into his career with the Carolina Hurricanes, he’s scored three times, put 13 shots on net, and recorded shot and expected goal shares north of 62 per cent.
By all appearances, Pacioretty hasn’t slowed down one bit, and seems to be exactly what he’s always been. Against a weak team like the Blue Jackets, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to keep that momentum going.
Montreal Canadiens to beat Nashville Predators
You can’t really expect the Montreal Canadiens to beat any team lately, and they got manhandled by the Predators as recently as last nine days ago, but the top line of Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, and Kirby Dach is looking good, Jake Evans has got Evgenii Dadonov and Joel Armia playing well, and the Predators are on the second half of a back-to-back.
Considering that the Predators are unlikely to use Juuse Saros in a back-to-back situation as well, it’s more likely that the Canadiens’ pop gun offence will actually be able to contribute. Add in the bonus factor of the Montreal crowd being into it after the Canadiens honour P.K. Subban. If the Habs strike first, watch out.
Over 6.5 total goals in Seattle Kraken vs Boston Bruins
If you’ve watched the Kraken at all lately you know they’re playing dynamic offensive hockey. They tore their way through Eastern Canada, and have scored 30 goals in six games in the new year. The Boston Bruins meanwhile, are a hyper-structured team that rarely gives up goals at all, but boy can they ever score them.
The Bruins may prefer to play defensive hockey as a rule but make no mistake, if they open things up, you may score four, but they’ll score seven. This one has all the potential to be a classic.
Calgary Flames to beat St. Louis Blues
With a 3-1 lead after the second period on Tuesday night, I was feeling pretty confident about my bet that the Flames would beat the Blues, only for the Flames to collapse in the third period and allow the Blues to score two quick ones to start the frame, and then allow Robert Thomas to end things in overtime.
That’s been a storyline that’s way too common for the Flames all season long, but I can’t imagine they’re pleased with the result of that game, so I expect an even more motivated squad ready to take down the Blues on Thursday night.