Since March 13th, the Minnesota Wild have gone 17-2-3 behind the two-headed goaltending monster of Cam Talbot and Marc-Andre Fleury. They now find themselves on the verge of clinching second place in the Central Division and home-ice advantage in a 1st round matchup with the St. Louis Blues. If Minnesota beat the Calgary Flames on Thursday, then the Wild will be on the cusp of locking in their playoff fate.
Flames-Wild is the headliner of a nine-game Thursday schedule. Let’s preview each contest with an eye toward the NHL betting lines:
Devils vs Hurricanes
Thanks to a five-game winning streak, the Carolina Hurricanes surged past the New York Rangers to win the Metropolitan Division title. With their regular season work done, the Hurricanes don’t need to push against the lowly New Jersey Devils on Thursday night. New Jersey has dropped four in a row and has started four different goalies in the past week and a half, which sums up the Devils’ season well.
Carolina is a deserving massive home favorite and, even though they don’t have anything to play for, take the Hurricanes on the puck line. New Jersey is decimated by injury and Carolina might want to give its home crowd a show in the Hurricanes’ regular-season finale.
Sabres vs Bruins
The Boston Bruins still have an outside chance at the No. 3 seed in the Atlantic so they’ll be going all out against the Buffalo Sabres, who have won four consecutive games (and five of six) behind a resurgent offense. So, it won’t be a cakewalk for Boston which has also won five of its last six games.
Boston is a big favorite at home on the BetUS sportsbook. The Bruins are obviously the better team but that might be a tad disrespectful to a Sabres team playing inspired hockey. Consider taking Buffalo straight-up as an intriguing spoiler. The over is a good option too.
Panthers vs Senators
The Florida Panthers have had things wrapped up in the Eastern Conference for a while which has allowed them to take their feet off the proverbial gas pedal, with the playoffs around the corner. Meanwhile, the Ottawa Senators haven’t been in the playoff picture for months but have looked good lately, winning four straight.
Florida is a very comfortable road favorite, however, the Senators might be the team to side with here because of how well they’ve played. The Panthers are going through the motions and don’t want anyone to get hurt before the postseason starts. Ottawa on the moneyline is a great value.
Capitals vs Islanders
The Washington Capitals will look to return the favor to the New York Islanders as the divisional rivals close out a home-and-home series in New York on Thursday night. The Islanders cruised to a 4-1 win on Tuesday in D.C., a result that dealt a blow to Washington’s hopes to overtake the Pittsburgh Penguins for third place in the Metropolitan.
But, with the Capitals only one point behind Pittsburgh and with a game in hand, Washington has the inside edge as long as the Capitals take care of business against the Islanders. Washington is slightly favored on the road and, if you’re betting online, the Capitals are a good pick on the moneyline to get revenge.
Lightning vs Blue Jackets
Knowing they just need two more points to officially be locked in as the third-place team in the Atlantic, the Tampa Bay Lightning — on a dominant four-game winning streak — can secure an electric postseason battle with the Toronto Maple Leafs by beating the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight. They smoked Columbus 4-1 at home on Tuesday and will look to do the same in Ohio.
Tampa Bay has scored six or more goals in three of its last four games so it’s clear that the Lightning offense is clicking at the right time. They’re big home favorites in this one and you should take them on the puck line, possibly parlayed with the over.
Flames vs Wild
With a game in hand on the St. Louis Blues — with whom they’re tied for second in the Central — the Minnesota Wild control their destiny. All they need is one more win and anything less than a win from the Blues in St. Louis’ regular-season finale on Friday. Minnesota won’t have an easy task tonight in beating the Calgary Flames but with Calgary having clinched a division title, the Flames have nothing left to play for.
So, Minnesota is a slight home favorite and is a good bet on the moneyline. The Wild have a sense of urgency, which makes a huge difference in these kinds of games.
Predators vs Avalanche
They’ve already clinched a Wild Card berth but the Nashville Predators are limping into the playoffs, having lost three straight. Nashville still wants to finish ahead of the other Wild Card team — the Dallas Stars — in order to avoid playing the Colorado Avalanche in the 1st round who, fittingly, host the Predators tonight.
Nashville is one point behind Dallas with a game in hand so the Predators control their destiny, but, Colorado is a big home favorite even if the Avalanche have nothing to play for and have lost four of five. With Juuse Saros suffering a potentially serious injury a few days ago that will keep him out until at least the beginning of the postseason, Colorado on the puck line is the way to go.
Sharks vs Oilers
All that’s left for the Edmonton Oilers in the regular season is to hold off the Los Angeles Kings for the No. 2 spot in the Pacific. Edmonton needs one more point in either of its final two games to lock in home-ice advantage against Los Angeles in the 1st round and should be able to get the job done against the San Jose Sharks.
San Jose has won two of three but the Sharks have only three wins in April, so they’re a very beatable opponent. The Oilers are huge home favorites and are a decent pick to cover the puck line. Plus, Mike Smith could get the nod and he has won nine straight starts.
Kings vs Canucks
The Los Angeles Kings can’t do anything to improve their playoff situation in their regular-season finale against the Vancouver Canucks tonight but they can end the season on a six-game winning streak and hit the 100-point plateau. So, Los Angeles does have some incentive to go for a win in Vancouver.
The Canucks have dropped three of four and ended up a few points off the pace in the Western Conference Wild Card race, however, they are a small favorite against the Kings because Los Angeles is at a rest disadvantage, having beaten the Seattle Kraken 5-3 last night. Since Calvin Petersen likely will get the start — he has suffered three losses in a row — take Vancouver to win in regulation at a decent value.