NHL picks: 4 best bets for Thursday
Chris Peters makes four money line picks for Thursday night's NHL action.
Carolina Hurricanes to beat Toronto Maple Leafs
While the Toronto Maple Leafs may not get the final answer on whether or not rookie Erik Kallgren is the answer to their goaltending woes, they’re going to find out a lot about their young Swedish netminder in this game. Taking on one of the league’s best teams after Kallgren shut out a solid Dallas squad is going to be an eye-opener for both him and his team, which has desperately needed someone to step up in net.
Meanwhile, Carolina comes into Toronto after a tough road loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but that was four days ago. They’ve had time to rest and regroup, plus Carolina had won their previous four straight including wins over Pittsburgh and Colorado and that last loss was on the second half of a back-to-back. The Canes have the second best points percentage in the NHL and are starting to run away with the Metropolitan Division a little bit.
While I think Kallgren is intriguing and deserves a lot of praise for getting a shutout in his first career start, this is going to be a much different game. The Leafs will also still be without Auston Matthews who has one game left on his two-game suspension. I’m not sure the Leafs are going to be able to slow down the well-rested Canes.
Dallas Stars to beat Montreal Canadiens
The Habs have settled back in to being closer to mediocre after a five-game win streak in mid-February. They’ve lost three of their last four and also just lost Ben Chiarot to a trade to the Florida Panthers. Montreal is officially in sell mode as the trade deadline nears, so there’s definitely a chance they’re going to get a bit worse down the stretch here.
Meanwhile, Dallas is in the midst of a fight for a playoff spot, but have lost three straight – all games against playoff-bound teams. They need to stop the bleeding though and should have a chance to do just that against a hobbled Montreal side.
Stars forward Jason Robertson has been one of the hottest goal scorers in the NHL, but the Stars are coming off of being shut out by the Maple Leafs. In the game after each of the last two times Dallas was shut out, they scored four and six goals. I’d expect a similar response against a Montreal team that may look even more different by the time the game rolls around.
Edmonton Oilers to beat Buffalo Sabres
The Oilers must be feeling a lot better about themselves after rattling off three straight wins at home including big Ws against the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning. They were then able to out-score their problems in a too-close-for-comfort game against the Detroit Red Wings. Either way, Edmonton has been a tough place to play in the last week.
Now the Sabres are coming into town, and while Buffalo is playing better of late and should be well rested after not playing any games since their 5-2 win in the Heritage Classic over the Maple Leafs, the Oilers are looking pretty darn good. The Sabres have actually won four of their last six, all of which were against teams in the playoff hunt. So Buffalo is not to be taken lightly.
In this particular case, with Connor McDavid flying, the Oilers getting goals from around more of their lineup and getting decent enough goaltending, I think it could be hard for the young Sabres to keep up with what the Oilers have. This will be the first of a three-game road trip through Western Canada for the Sabres, but I just don’t see them keeping the Oilers’ offensive attack at bay as effectively as they have some other teams lately.
Vancouver Canucks to beat Detroit Red Wings
The Canucks have got themselves back in the race here and are scoring goals with regularity these last few weeks. They’ve won four of their last six games and seven of their last 10. They’re very much in the hunt for a postseason berth and playing like a team that doesn’t want to get broken up at the trade deadline.
The Canucks’ decision on pending free agent J.T. Miller is one of the great “will they? won’t they?” sagas leading up to the trade deadline, but it seems more and more likely they will not move Miller, who has grown into a central piece of their offensive attack. They have scored no less than three goals in 10 of their last 12 games.
The Red Wings, meanwhile, have parked themselves on the struggle bus. They can’t seem to stop anyone right now. They’ve lost six straight and eight of their last nine games. They showed a lot of promise at times this season, but the youthful Red Wings just haven’t been able to sustain it.
They’ve allowed 34 goals over their last six games, an average of 5.6 goals against per game. No team is winning with that kind of leakiness. Now they’ve got to go up against a Canucks offense that can throw Miller, Bo Horvat, Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, Brock Boeser and more at them. I don’t think this is going to go particularly well for the team in red and with the way they’ve been allowing goalies, I might consider a Canucks puckline play.