NHL picks: 4 best bets for Thursday night
Chris Peters makes four money line picks for Thursday night's NHL action.
Sabres to beat Flames
Wins over Edmonton and Pittsburgh and a close loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs has the Sabres seemingly stabilized after a five-game losing streak. This recent stretch of particularly strong opponents does not stop as the Flames come to town.
The Sabres seem to be catching Calgary at the right time, though. The Flames have played a ton of close games lately, but have lost six of their last eight games. They’re currently in the midst of a seven-game road trip that has not gone particularly well to date. Calgary has lost three of their first four, but still are favored in this game.
One of the secrets to Buffalo’s success so far this season – and it’s not really a secret – is the goaltending. Both Craig Anderson and Dustin Tokarski have save percentages north of .920. The goaltending has had to be good because the Sabres have not scored consistently enough. With the possibility of Jacob Olofsson out, as he missed Tuesday’s game, that’s a concern against a good team like the Flames.
I like the value on the Sabres here, though, especially with the Flames in the middle of a road trip where they haven’t had much success.
Maple Leafs to beat Rangers
The Leafs are absolutely rolling right now with four straight wins, including a pair of shutout victories, as part of a run that has seen them win nine of their last 10 games. Jack Campbell has carried the load in the Maple Leafs net and is thriving as the team’ primary starter. In 13 starts, Campbell has a .943 save percentage and three shutouts.
The Rangers are on a bit of a roll, too, also having won four consecutive games. Their scoring has really taken off in the last few games as they put up 16 goals over those four victories, three of which came on home ice.
This will be the second meeting between these two teams with New York taking the first game 2-1 in overtime back on October 18. The Maple Leafs are a much different team than they were at that point, though. They’ve gotten healthier and have watched their star players flourish in recent weeks.
While the Rangers have been winning games of late, they haven’t necessarily dominated defensively. New York has allowed three or more goals in six of their last seven games. With a team that can score like Toronto can, they’re going to have to be tighter. I think the Leafs will use home ice advantage to their benefit and take two points from the Rangers.
Penguins to beat Canadiens
The Penguins have had an awfully hard time staying healthy, whether it’s injuries or COVID protocol. The end result is a middling 5-6-4 record.
The Habs have been worse, though, with a 4-12-2 record. Montreal also has a ton of injuries that are going to negatively impact their roster more than it already has been.
The Pens are starting to get healthy and having Sidney Crosby back is a huge help. He’s been a dominant performer against the Habs in his career, too. The Penguins simply have more depth at this point and there have not been many games where you could say that about Pittsburgh’s hockey club.
It is unclear what the goaltending matchup will be at this point, but it appears likely to be Tristan Jarry against Samuel Montembault, which also favors the Penguins. Jarry has played well in a tough circumstance this season, posting a .917 save percentage in 12 games played this season.
The Pens have really struggled of late, but this feels like the kind of game where they’ll be able to turn the corner a bit.
Oilers to beat Jets
The Jets took it to the Oilers on Tuesday night while on home ice, earning a 5-2 win. While that was an impressive win for a Winnipeg squad that has won five of its last seven games and has points in six of its last eight, Edmonton is really tough to beat twice in a row.
The Oilers have not lost two straight games yet this season and have suffered only one loss on home ice so far. It’s not impossible for Winnipeg to break that trend, but it’s hard to see it happening with the Oilers playing as well as they have of late.
Leon Draisaitl is red-hot, with a league-best 17 goals and 33 points, while Connor McDavid is second in the league with 29 points and a league-high 19 assists. The one area where the Jets have a clear advantage is in net, even though Connor Hellebuyck has been slightly below his career standard.
With the Oilers as good as they’ve been at home, it’s going to be tough for Winnipeg to come out of there with a win.
Sabres, Maple Leafs and Penguins all to win
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