The two-time defending Stanley Cup champion, Tampa Bay Lightning usually have no worries about the playoff race toward the end of the regular season, but a relatively up-and-down campaign in 2021-22 has forced the Lightning to play meaningful hockey in late April. Tampa Bay could use a point against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the best game of a packed Thursday docket, which features a ton of exciting matchups.
Let’s preview all 11 games with an eye to the NHL betting lines for each:
Flyers vs Canadiens
Something has to give with the Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens facing off on Thursday night. The Flyers and Canadiens have lost their last six games, so one team will snap its long losing streak tonight.
Montreal is favored and you should take the Canadiens straight-up. Philadelphia gives up tons of goals — four or more in all six games of the Flyers’ skid — and Montreal’s offense is due for a good performance amid the Canadiens’ recent struggles.
Red Wings vs Panthers
The Florida Panthers can essentially lock up the top seed in the Eastern Conference and an Atlantic Division title with a win over the lowly Detroit Red Wings. Florida is riding an 11-game winning streak heading into the Panthers’ meeting with Detroit, which is coming off a surprising road win over the Tampa Bay Lightning but has lost four of six.
Florida is a big home favorite on the BetUS sportsbook one of the biggest single-game favorites of the entire NHL season. So, there isn’t much value on the Panthers, though they should win easily. Throw a dart on the Red Wings on the moneyline!
Sabres vs Devils
Despite missing tons of regulars, the New Jersey Devils made a big splash in the Western Conference Wild Card race on Monday by beating the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2. New Jersey will try to make it two wins in a row as they host the Buffalo Sabres, which have won three of four.
The Devils are slight favorites at home even though this game is probably close to a tossup. Go with New Jersey – in regulation (for better value), with Nico Daws probably getting the start in goal.
Bruins vs Penguins
Both the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins have a lot of work left to do with the regular season winding down. Boston is just one point behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for third place in the Atlantic and Pittsburgh is just one point ahead of the Washington Capitals for third place in the Metropolitan. That makes Thursday’s Bruins-Penguins game an important one.
Boston has won two consecutive, and Pittsburgh has been bad for the past few weeks, losing six of eight. The Bruins also won 2-1 when these teams played on Saturday. Still, Pittsburgh is a small favorite in this one, and, they are the smart play with Tristan Jarry getting the nod. They’re undervalued because of their recent slump.
Jets vs Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes are locked in a tight battle for the Metropolitan crown with the New York Rangers. They’re knotted up at 106 points and 77 games played. Carolina hosts the scuffling Winnipeg Jets tonight in a game the Hurricanes need to have if they want to win the division.
Winnipeg has lost three straight and was blanked 3-0 by New York on Tuesday. Understandably, Carolina is a very comfortable home favorite and the Hurricanes are a smart bet to cover the puck line even though they haven’t been playing that well.
Rangers vs Islanders
The New York Islanders will look to play the role of spoiler to the New York Rangers tonight at UBS Arena. The Islanders have been eliminated from playoff contention but have remained competitive; count on them to put forth a solid effort against the Rangers, who have won three consecutive games and six of seven.
New York hasn’t given up a goal in three straight games with Alexander Georgiev and Igor Shesterkin combining for over 180 minutes of shutout hockey. Shesterkin should get the start against the Islanders, which will make this a low-scoring affair.
The Rangers are small road favorites which is fair, but, if you’re betting online, you should take the Islanders to win straight-up. They’ve played the Rangers well all year and are a much better team than their record would indicate. The under is a good pick as well.
Maple Leafs vs Lightning
Two of the NHL’s top teams — and Atlantic Division rivals — match up as the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Tampa Bay Lightning. Toronto’s playoff position is more or less set while the Lightning are in danger of falling behind the Boston Bruins and moving into the first Wild Card spot in the East.
Toronto has won four straight and has lost only twice since the end of March thanks to solid goaltending from Jack Campbell and sustained offensive production. Tampa Bay hasn’t been great as of late and, interestingly, has lost five of Andrei Vasilevskiy’s last six starts.
Regardless, Vasilevskiy should be in goal against Toronto with Tampa Bay as slight home favorites. Take the Lightning to win on the moneyline as they try to turn things around.
Canucks vs Wild
Even with their disappointing shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday — which snapped a six-game winning streak — the Vancouver Canucks are very much alive in the Wild Card hunt and they need to beat the surging Minnesota Wild to potentially gain ground.
Vancouver is four points behind the Dallas Stars but Dallas has a game in hand, so the Canucks’ situation is far from ideal. Minnesota has the inside track on the St. Louis Blues for second place in the Central but needs to get at least one point in this game to move in front.
The Wild, winners of five of six, are comfortable home favorites. Go with them to win in regulation because they’ve been good at home all season.
Stars vs Flames
The Calgary Flames have essentially clinched the Pacific but the Dallas Stars, after back-to-back regulation losses, still need to win a few more games to secure a postseason berth. Dallas has a game in hand — and four points — on both the Vegas Golden Knights and Vancouver Canucks.
Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, and Joe Pavelski now have 45.2% of all Dallas Stars goals this season lol good lord
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) April 21, 2022
The Stars are at a rest disadvantage against Calgary, who have won seven of nine, and have scored just nine points in their last five games.
That’s why Calgary is a big home favorite and is the right side to back here. Take the Flames to cover the puck line with Dallas running a little ragged.
Blackhawks vs Kings
The Los Angeles Kings are hanging onto third place in the Pacific thanks to the inability of the Vegas Golden Knights and Vancouver Canucks to take the spot away from LA. The Kings have played .500 hockey for over a month but they banked enough points to feel pretty good about moving on to the postseason.
Still, they could use a win against the Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago just beat the Arizona Coyotes in overtime for only the Blackhawks’ second victory in April. Los Angeles is a sizable home favorite for a reason and should win going away, so take the Kings on the puck line or in regulation (and parlay it with the under).
Blues vs Sharks
The St. Louis Blues saw their nine-game winning streak come to an end on Tuesday in a hard-fought overtime loss to the Boston Bruins but the Blues have a good chance to start a new one against the slumping San Jose Sharks whose 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday ended a 10-game skid.
The Blues are big road favorites with good reason. Take them on the puck line and, separately, consider going with the over as well. Before the loss to Boston, St. Louis had scored four goals or more in 12 straight games. Look for that to happen against San Jose.