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If you had placed a $10 single on every one of Chris’s picks this season, you’d be $583.10 in profit.
Calgary Flames to beat Montreal Canadiens
The Flames continued their remarkable success against the Canadiens on Friday night with a 4-2 win where they really clamped down on Montreal’s offense. It was Calgary’s fifth win in seven games over the season series against the Habs.
There was nothing entertaining about that game between the two clubs, which is exactly the way Calgary wants to play it, making it that much more difficult for the Habs to get shots through and generate much of any offense. Montreal managed just 20 shots on goal, with Jacob Markstrom turning aside 18 of them.
The big question heading into Saturday night’s game is if Markstrom will get another start. He’s been a workhorse this season and has appeared in both games on back-to-backs twice already this season. This is essentially another must-win game for the Flames as they continue to hunt down the Habs in the playoff race in the North. Should Markstrom go again, he has a .918 save percentage on zero days rest so far this season.
If the team plays in front of him Saturday like they did Friday, it may not even matter that much as they weren’t allowing a ton of quality chances. According to naturalstattrick.com, the Flames out-chanced Montreal 29-14 at even strength.
It’s really tough to beat a team in back-to-back games and neither of these clubs have been particularly sharp in back-to-backs this year, so I’ll stick with the home team in this one.
Toronto Maple Leafs to beat Winnipeg Jets
After feeling pretty good about picking the Jets against the Leafs the other day, Winnipeg laid an egg and Toronto finally woke up and realized the season was still going on. The Maple Leafs busted out of a long slump with a convincing 5-3 win that saw both Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner really take over the game.
The win gave Toronto a 5-3-0 record against the Jets so far this season and it allowed the Leafs to shake off the sting of a long slump. That looked like a confidence booster for Toronto and a real kick in the behind to Winnipeg. Connor Hellebuyck got pulled from the game, so you have to figure if he’s back in, he’s going to have a much better effort.
I often like picking against teams that win the first game of a series on the road to lose the next one, but I think Thursday’s game was a good chance for the Maple Leafs to remind themselves of what they’re capable of.
Vancouver Canucks to beat Ottawa Senators
The Senators got their first win over the Canucks in Thursday’s surprising 3-0 shutout over which Matt Murray seemed to find the game that made him a top goalie just a few short years ago. That’s not something we’ve seen from him consistently, however, and in all other games the Canucks have seemingly had Ottawa’s number. Vancouver has won five of the six meetings between the two sides.
We’re still not quite sure what to make of Vancouver as they push for a playoff spot. They had the recent sweep of Toronto, but to then lay an egg against the Senators was a jarring juxtaposition from where they seemed to be headed. Vancouver has no choice but to win the bulk of their remaining schedule if they want any chance of reaching the postseason.
Braden Holtby is expected to get back between the pipes after his marvellous effort in the last win for Vancouver over Toronto. The veteran netminder won each of his two starts, making 37 saves in each game, when the Canucks first got out of their Covid protocols. If he maintains that sharpness, it’s hard to see Ottawa breaking through.
Los Angeles Kings to beat Arizona Coyotes
The Kings are in desperation mode right now as they try to reach the playoffs. The team that they most need to knock out of their way is Arizona, which currently sits fourth in the division. This is a critical game for both the Kings and the Coyotes as St. Louis is the other team locked in the same playoff chase.
MoneyPuck.com gives the Kings and Coyotes each about a 24 per cent chance to reach the playoffs. Either could improve their odds some with a big win.
The Coyotes were idle on Friday night, but the Kings had a tough game against the Minnesota Wild, losing 4-2. I often won’t pick a team that played the night before to win, but the Kings showed really great fight in that game against Minnesota and nearly forced a comeback. Even on short rest, I think the motivation of the playoff hunt could be a big factor for Los Angeles.
On top of that, LA is just playing better than Arizona right now. The Coyotes have lost seven of their last eight games. They lead the Blues in the standings by just one point, but St. Louis has three games in hand.
The games between Los Angeles and Arizona have been mostly tight this season with LA winning three and Arizona winning two. This is going to be one of the biggest games on Saturday’s slate no matter how you slice it, but I like the Kings at home in this one.
Toronto, Vancouver and Carolina all to win
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