NHL picks: 4 best bets for Thursday
Chris Peters makes four money line picks for Thursday night's NHL action.
Canadiens to beat Flyers
The Habs have lost six straight games and 10 of their last 12. The streak has to end somewhere and as bad as Montreal has been in the last little bit, Philly has possibly been worse, having also lost six straight and 11 of their last 13. It’s a battle of the bads in Montreal and perhaps either would be fine with a loss at this point as it improves their draft lottery odds – but that’s not usually how players operate.
The Flyers are dealing with a ton of injuries and have a lot of rookies in the lineup. It’s good for the future, but not so much for the now. Montreal is a bit healthier with a bit more experience in their lineup. They’re also playing at home and there’s a good chance Carey Price is going to get another shot at starting.
The Habs might not be winning as much, but they’re playing decent enough hockey. At least decent enough for them to win against a Flyers team that seems to be circling the drain and waiting for the season to end.
Hurricanes to beat Jets
The Hurricanes have battled inconsistency for a bit late this season, as they showed in a 3-0 loss to Detroit last week at home. Thursday night’s contest is one of only two home games left on their regular-season schedule. And just because their season is winding down doesn’t mean they have nothing to play for.
The Canes are tied with the New York Rangers in points as each have 106. Carolina can secure home ice through the first two rounds of the playoffs if they manage to grab that top spot in the Metropolitan Division, so expected a motivated group Thursday night against Winnipeg.
The Jets, on the other hand, have very little to play for and have looked like it. They’ve lost three straight on this Eastern road swing that concludes Thursday in Carolina. They’ve given up 16 goals over their last three games. It’s not looking good as the Jets play out their final five games of the season.
Canucks to beat Wild
The Canucks’ playoff hopes are so slim, but they’re not dead. A shootout loss to Ottawa was not helpful as they desperately needed that extra point. Vancouver had won six straight prior to that and the margin for error is so slim with them.
The Canucks have not beaten the Wild in two prior games including one late in March that saw Vancouver fall in overtime. This is a must-have, though. If they expect it to come easy against Minnesota, however, they’ve got another thing coming.
The Wild have won five of their last six games and have had their offense clicking. Even in the game they lost in that stretch, they scored five goals. While the Canucks are playing for their postseason lives, Minnesota has already clinched, but they need to keep banking points to maintain home-ice advantage in their likely first-round series against St. Louis.
This very well could be the most intriguing game of the entire slate Thursday. I’ve really, really liked the way the Canucks have played down the stretch and I think they’re going to find a way to keep this playoff race interesting.
Maple Leafs to beat Lightning
April has not been kind to the Lightning. They started the month out with a win, then lost five of their next six. They’ve lost six of 10 as their play ebbs and flows. It’s not exactly how you want to head into the postseason, but the two-time defending champion still has to feel like they’ve got as good a chance as anyone once they’re in. But right now, they could slip into the wild card and find themselves in a war with one of Carolina or the New York Rangers.
The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, know they’ve got to keep the train rolling. They’ll either play these Lightning or the Boston Bruins in the first round. Either way, Leafs fans are probably going to feel very nervous given their recent lack of success in the first round. This is a chance for them to make a statement against a potential first-round opponent.
Toronto has won four straight and 11 of their last 13 games. They’re playing well enough, scoring a lot and they even kept the offense going without Auston Matthews in the lineup. He may not play Thursday after missing Tuesday’s game against Philadelphia. That’s a significant loss for the game, but Toronto is just playing better than the Lightning are right now and I think they can keep it rolling in a game that should be pretty easy to get up for.
NHL SUPER BOOST: Canadiens and Maple Leafs both to win