NHL picks: 4 best bets for Thursday
Chris Peters makes four money line picks for Thursday night's NHL action.
Canadiens to beat Devils
This is a lost season for both teams, but there’s still plenty for each to prove as they prepare for next season. The Devils will be without star forward Jack Hughes, who has been lost for the remainder of the season and with him goes a big piece of their offensive attack. The Habs, meanwhile will be without defenseman Jeff Petry, but have most of the rest of their roster intact.
The Habs have been an awfully tough team to get a read on because they’ll surprise you every once in a while. Montreal beat Tampa Bay over the weekend then lost the next game to Ottawa. Now they’re on the road and playing just their third game in the last six days.
New Jersey, meanwhile has lost four straight and six of their last seven games. Their last win, however, was against these Canadiens on home ice, winning 3-2 in a shootout on March 27. The Devils are 2-0 against Montreal so far this season, but I don’t like their chances without a big piece like Jack Hughes in their lineup.
Neither team is playing well, but I’ve got a little more faith in Montreal at the moment and I like the value on them on the moneyline in this particular matchup.
Maple Leafs to beat Stars
The Maple Leafs just saw a five-game winning streak end at the hands of the Florida Panthers in a high-scoring affair. The Dallas Stars, meanwhile, have won four of their last five and seven of their last nine games. This should be a great battle between two teams that have been playing some great hockey of late.
The Leafs have been tearing it up offensively and that has allowed them to skirt some of their goaltending issues, but neither Jack Campbell, nor Erik Kallgren fared particularly well in that 7-6 OT loss to Florida where Toronto blew a 5-1 lead. We still don’t know which of the two will get the net against Dallas.
In this particular matchup, however, I think Toronto can outscore their problems. Dallas has been a little leakier in terms of goals allowed, even against weaker teams, over recent weeks. Dallas has been strong on home ice and will be able to control the matchups a bit more, but that hasn’t really slowed Toronto down too much.
Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews just keep putting up points regardless of opponent and I think they’ll be the difference in this particular matchup.
Canucks to beat Coyotes
After a rousing 5-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday, the Canucks will turn right around and head to Arizona for a date with the Coyotes. The way their entire lineup played in that game against Vegas leads me to believe the Canucks have enough juice at the moment to ride that momentum. Their playoff hopes are near none, but until they’re dead, I’d expect an all-out effort from Vancouver. According to MoneyPuck.com, the Canucks have just a 1.4 per cent chance of even making the playoffs.
The Coyotes, meanwhile, are without top scorer Clayton Keller, who sustained a scary season-ending injury last week. They’ve also lost eight of their last 10 and have given up four or more goals in seven of those contests. They’re just playing out the string here in a season where they’ll finish with one of, if not the worst record in the NHL.
The Canucks have a little more to play for here and even though there’s barely any hope they reach the postseason, that push they showed against Vegas on Wednesday night showed they’re far from done competing. I’ll take the Canucks here.
Kings to beat Oilers
In the series finale between two teams likely heading to the playoffs, this should be a great battle. The Oilers have won two of the three previous matchups and have really turned up their scoring ability in the last two contests. Edmonton is also riding a five-game winning streak into this contest, which includes a 4-3 shootout win over the Kings.
If the playoffs started tomorrow, these two teams would be squaring off in the first round, so this is a chance for both to send a message to each other. The Kings have played just about everyone tough over the last week. They split with the red-hot Flames, got a 3-2 win over the Jets and had that 4-3 loss to Edmonton in the shootout. They’re right there.
The Oilers goaltending has been pretty darn good of late, which is a huge boost to their chances in any game, but I still trust the Kings a bit more, regardless if its Jonathan Quick or Cal Petersen. That’s why I’ve got a slight lean to the Kings in this one. All of the evidence points to Edmonton, but I like the way the Kings have played over the last week plus. They don’t let anything come easy and I don’t think they’re going to let Edmonton out of Los Angeles without a real fight.