NHL picks: 4 best bets for Thursday
Chris Peters makes four money line picks for Thursday night's NHL action.
Flyers to beat Canadiens
The Flyers have come out of a 10-game losing streak that included Alain Vigneault being dismissed as head coach by winning their last three games. Over those three contests, the Flyers have scored 15 goals and look like a brand new team. Now they’ll catch a Canadiens team that is missing a good chunk of players to injury at the moment.
Montreal has lost seven straight games and have scored two or fewer goals in six of those contests. The lack of scoring has been a nightmare for this team all season. They are tied with the Islanders for the second lowest goals-for average in the league. There’s not much relief in sight with Josh Anderson, Tyler Toffoli and Christian Dvorak all out for extended periods. It is also believed that Brendan Gallagher, who is out of COVID protocol, may not yet be available to play Thursday.
The Flyers simply have been playing better of late. They’re the deeper team, going against a squad that has already had to significantly dig into their farm system to have enough players just to put a semi-competitive product on the ice. Philly seems like they have new life and probably won’t be slowing down in Montreal.
Lightning to beat Senators
The Sens earned their best win of the season by beating the Lightning 4-0 in Ottawa just five days ago. Then they topped that win with an 8-2 drubbing of the league-leading Florida Panthers. What’s gotten into these Senators? They’ve been giant killers of late, also collecting wins against Carolina and Colorado while winning five of their last six.
While Ottawa is playing really well right now and are starting to click, beating another one of those giant teams twice in a row might be asking too much of the young team. The Senators have not been great on the road this year, but have won their last three road contests. Going into Tampa Bay, however, can be a different animal.
The Lightning are 9-3-2 at home so far this season and have been particularly stingy on home ice, allowing just 2.43 goals-against at home, eighth best in the league. Prior to Ottawa’s last three road wins, they had just one all season. Sometimes I’d be prone to ride the hot hand in this one, but I just think the Lightning have too much and have that home-ice advantage, which in the end makes enough of a difference for me.
Oilers to beat Blue Jackets
The Edmonton Oilers skid has been stunning. They’ve got the two best offensive players in the league and they can’t score all of the goals. Edmonton is not getting enough from its depth and now the Oilers have lost six straight and are winless through the first five games of a six-game homestand.
There’s a lot of pressure on the Oilers to stop the slide here. Not only do they need to pick up a road win. They’re about to get kicked out of their building for a few weeks to make way for the World Junior Championship. After Thursday against Columbus, the Oilers have just one more game at home and then it’s on the road for their next eight games.
Columbus has split the first two games of their current four-game road trip, dropping a 4-3 decision to Vancouver on Tuesday. The Jackets have been one of the worst road teams in the NHL with a 5-9-0 record.
With the pressure mounting on the Oilers to get a win, and perhaps its weakest opponent of the homestand coming in, this feels like one of those breakout games for Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl where they just take it over and run away with the game.
Canucks to beat Sharks
Since firing GM Jim Benning and head coach Travis Green, the Vancouver Canucks have won five straight games. New coach Bruce Boudreau was the first coach in team history to start 5-0. All of those games have been at home. Now they’ve got a pretty good road test ahead.
The Sharks have lost four of their last six games including a 3-1 loss to Seattle in their last home contest on Tuesday. They also just lost winger Kevin Labanc to shoulder surgery and will be without him for a few months. That takes a little more scoring out of their lineup.
The Canucks run under Bruce Boudreau is going to end eventually, but seeing the way Vancouver’s stars have played under the new head coach, they’re finding their way pretty quickly. Quinn Hughes and Brock Boeser have looked more dominant. Bo Horvat is finding the net with more regularity and even Elias Pettersson, who has struggled all season, is starting to get more positive puck touches. I think the good times under the new bench boss will continue at least for this game as the Canucks run their win streak to six.
Canucks, Oilers and Wild all to win