NHL picks: 4 best bets for Thursday
Chris Peters makes four money line picks for Thursday night's NHL action.
Capitals to beat Maple Leafs
The Washington Capitals are secure in their playoff spot, but they have a chance to move into third place in the Metropolitan Division, which would allow them to avoid Carolina and Florida in the first round of the playoffs. They’re currently chasing the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are a mere three points ahead, while the Caps have two games in hand. So this particular game is a pretty big one for Washington.
The Maple Leafs have already clinched a playoff spot, but they need to try to maintain home-ice advantage as both the Bruins and Lightning are at least within striking distance of second in the Atlantic.
In terms of playoff seeding, this is a huge game. At this moment, it’s the Caps playing better, too. They’ve won each of their last four games and are coming off a 9-2 drubbing of Philadelphia Tuesday. They’re riding a bit of a wave right now where they’re scoring a ton of goals and three of their last four wins have been against playoff teams.
The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, are coming off of a disappointing 5-2 loss on home ice to the Buffalo Sabres. Jack Campbell is expected to get his first start in net in the last week. He’s been dealing with nagging injuries, but appears healthy and has been solid enough since he missed almost all of March. But he’s going to be going up against a red-hot offense.
The Caps have scored 23 goals over their last four games, while allowing 10. I think their momentum is going to carry them to another win here and I like the value on them as a road underdog.
Predators to beat Oilers
The Oilers are just starting to get a little more comfortable in a playoff spot here after some midseason concerns and a coaching change. That said, they’ve been a very average road team all season long and are going into one of the toughest places to play in the NHL. The Predators are 23-12 on home ice this season and are clinging to that first wild card spot with Dallas nipping at their heels and Vegas trying to get back into the race.
Every game this time of year seems to mean a little bit more as the teams fight for their playoff lives. There’s an actual race in the West and both of these teams are one bad week away from potentially getting overtaken.
Edmonton has won the first two games of this season series, though both were on home ice. Meanwhile, the Preds are 6-1 in their last seven home games and are coming off of a hard-fouth shutout win over San Jose. They’re tough to play against and have something to play for. They’re slightly favored in the game and while I think this one will be close, the Preds have that home ice advantage and that puts them over the top for me.
Golden Knights to beat Flames
The Golden Knights are in desperation mode. Every single game matters as they are currently on the outside looking in on the playoff race. They’ve willed themselves back into it with points in seven of their last eight games, but they really need two points here and they need it against a team that has been devastatingly good on home ice.
The Calgary Flames have won five straight games and have scored four or more goals in five of their last six games. This is not a good time for Vegas to be catching the Pacific Division’s top team, but they have some reinforcements.
Vegas has been injured a lot this season, but the captain Mark Stone has returned to the lineup to help this team in their bid to reach the postseason. After getting his first game under his belt, I’d expect Stone to make a more substantial impact in his second.
The Flames are rolling right now, but they’ve got a team that is going to be playing playoff style hockey in order to secure two points. I think Vegas needs this one more than Calgary does and that ultimately pushes them to a critical road win here.
Canucks to beat Coyotes
The Canucks’ playoff hopes continue to hang by a thread. A 5-4 overtime win over Vegas Tuesday breathed a little bit more life into their near-impossible quest. MoneyPuck.com gives the Canucks a 7.1% chance of reaching the postseason, but they can help themselves out in a big way by beating the Coyotes.
Arizona has lost five of their last six games and allowed five or more goals in all five of those losses. It’s been an ugly year in the desert and it’s getting uglier. That’s great news for the Canucks who will take the two points any way they can get it.
Vancouver has won four straight and they’ve been scoring in bunches. The fact that Arizona has been bleeding goals as much as they have the last few weeks, it’s hard to imagine the Canucks not winning big in this one. This is the kind of game Vancouver absolutely has to have and I don’t think they’ll let this opportunity slip by.