Andrew Berkshire's picks for Thursday's action include wins for Columbus and Montreal.
With the holidays fast approaching, and temperatures outside cooling rapidly, the NHL is ironically heating up. Uncertainty is plaguing a whole host of playoff hopefuls right now, as teams like the Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils, and Carolina Hurricanes were seen as close to playoff locks entering the season, and none of them are close to guaranteed right now. Can they pick it up heading into the new year?
Columbus Blue Jackets to beat Washington Capitals
With the Capitals playing last night and winning in overtime against the New York Islanders, the Columbus Blue Jackets have a bigger advantage in this one than it looks like. Columbus is by no means a good team right now; in fact, they rank dead last in the last 10 games across the NHL in all situations expected goals for percentage according to Natural Stat Trick.
With that said, the Blue Jackets are still finding ways to win about half their games lately, and the Capitals have been winning despite not playing very well, so they’re overdue to take some losses.
Alex Ovechkin to score anytime vs Columbus Blue Jackets
What’s happened to Alex Ovechkin? At 38-years-old, it looks from afar that his scoring touch has disappeared, but as Shayna Goldman from The Athletic explained; there’s a lot of noise in this cold streak that should regress closer to expected soon.
After playing last night, a little tired, I think Ovechkin will find a way to end his 14-game scoreless drought tonight. Thinking less and playing more on instinct, against a team that allows a ton of goals, Ovi is going to break that 52 shot struggling streak.
Edmonton Oilers vs New Jersey Devils over 8.5 total goals
Two high powered offensive teams that play dynamic styles and can’t get a big stop to save their lives face off for a game featuring three of the highest profile stars the league has to offer. This game has all the ingredients necessary to end up with a 1980’s scoreline.
Even if that doesn’t end up happening, if the goalies decide to make their stand tonight when everyone expects them to get lit up, I highly recommend this as your appointment watch of the night.
Montreal Canadiens to beat Minnesota Wild
When the Wild came to Montreal earlier this season, it was an utter annihilation of the Canadiens. After losing Kirby Dach for the season the game before, a determination the team found out about just before the game, the Habs came out sulking and got eaten alive.
This time around, the Canadiens are actually playing well, sitting 10th in the NHL in all situations expected goals over the last 10 games, yes you read that correctly. This is the best stretch of play for the Canadiens since 2020-21, and while the Wild have been winning, that’s been mostly percentages going their way, while they’ve been getting outplayed. Looks like a trap game for Minnesota.