NHL four-fold: Top Thursday choices for your ice hockey coupon
The Flyers and Lightning are well-equipped to turn their poor form around, and they head our list of best bets...
Philadelphia Flyers to beat Vancouver Canucks –
A risky pick on the surface, perhaps.
The Flyers have struggled recently, with a record of 2-5-3 from their last 10 games and an average of just 1.50 goals per game over that period.
But they have already proven that they can compete in the Eastern Conference and win games.
They racked up 10 consecutive victories from late November all the way to mid-December, averaging 3.60 goals per game.
Philadelphia certainly have firepower in their offence, with Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn among their most potent scoring threats.
The Flyers really need wins right now to keep up with the top teams in the Metropolitan Division, and that offensive talent means they look the likelier winners here.
Tampa Bay Lightning to beat Buffalo Sabres –
The Tampa Bay Lightning are another team desperate for points in the race for a playoff spot.
Before the season started, the Bolts were seen as one of the favourites to win the Stanley Cup, but they have been largely disappointing - mainly because of injuries to key players.
They are still hampered by injuries, but No. 1 goaltender Ben Bishop could return to action against the Sabres, while veteran forward Brian Boyle and defenceman Braydon Coburn are also both very close to being healthy again.
Tampa Bay’s injury woes are starting to fade and they will likely start turning their fortunes around very soon.
The Sabres have been improving lately, but haven’t been really consistent this season.
This appears to be a good chance for the Bolts to begin climbing the standings.
Anaheim Ducks to beat Colorado Avalanche –
The Ducks have the perfect opportunity here to improve their situation in the Pacific Division.
In the Avalanche, they face the worst team in the NHL, who have been horrible on home-ice with a record of just 5-13-1.
Colorado have also scored the fewest goals per game in the NHL (2.03) and conceded the most (3.31).
Anaheim are 5-1-1 from their last seven games and will likely have the improving 23-year-old goalie John Gibson between the pipes.
Gibson has won four of his last five games with an impressive save percentage of 95.9 per cent.
Don’t expect anything to change for the Avalanche on Thursday. Another L looks bound to be added to their record.
Los Angeles Kings to beat St. Louis Blues –
Of all Thursday night’s games, this looks the most interesting match-up.
Neither of these are necessarily elite teams in the Western Conference, but both are very capable of pulling of some upsets in the playoffs this season.
The Kings are one of the NHL’s best in terms of shot attempts, but they have struggled with five-on-five shooting and save percentages.
And while they are a very good puck possession team, they only occupy the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.
LA have had some scoring difficulties scoring, but considering that have found the net eight times in their last two games, it seems they are improving in that area.
The Kings will most likely control this game, and with better goaltending and some luck at the offensive end, they should pick up an important win here.