It took a monumental upset on Thursday, but our NHL betting parlay got sunk by the Red Wings lighting up Tampa Bay backup Curtis McElhinney. Ouch. But the other three picks were on the money, and I’m going back to the well with most of these teams for this Saturday.
Islanders Continue to Neutralize Devils
The Islanders dominated the Devils on Thursday and then seemingly got careless in the third and allowed them to score three goals. It was still, for the most part, a defensive clinic for the NHL’s best defense.
The Isles limited New Jersey to just 22 shots and committed no penalties with the exception of that Too Many Men on the Ice in the third. New York improves to 12-1-2 for the year when scoring first and are 9-0-1 when leading after two.
As for the Devils, the loss marks their ninth in their last 12. A positive for them is that it’s the third time in four games they’ve scored three or more goals in a game. They’re still lagging in that category as their 2.52 is ahead of only the Sabres in the division.
Semyon Varlamov will be back in net for the Isles. He has a career 1.55 goals against average (GAA) on a 94.3 save percent in nine games against the Devils (6-3-0).
I expect the Isles to once again shut down the Devils and move to 4-1 against them for the season.
Pick: New York Islanders to win
Pittsburgh Extends Buffalo’s Losing Skid
Pittsburgh is beginning to hit its stride with five wins in its last six games and a +12 goal differential. After a rocky start, the Penguins are back to being a legitimate bet on the NHL lines thanks in part to improved play between the pipes.
Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith have combined for a 92.3 save percent, the third-best in the division during this span. Evgeni Malkin is also back. The Russian now has nine points in his last six including two against the Sabres.
Buffalo, on the other hand, continues to slide into historically bad terms. The Sabres lost their ninth straight on Thursday and have now lost 14 of their last 16 games going back to January 31. Their offense continues to be nonexistent with just under two goals per game.
To add insult to injury, Jack Eichel (upper body) will be out of action for at least a week. They need for more players to step up if they can. Buffalo is the only NHL team to have fewer than two players on pace for 20 or more goals in an 82-game schedule.
The Sabres are a dumpster fire and I don’t see things changing anytime soon. The Penguins should win this via another blowout.
Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins to win
Tampa Bounces Back Versus Nashville
So Tampa let us down the last time, but that’s one of those once-in-a-month upsets. I expect the Lightning, still the best bet on the online sportsbooks, to get back on track. The Predators are just about as hapless as the Red Wings if not more.
Nashville is winless against the Lightning and has one of the worst special teams. While they are quite formidable on 5-on-5, their inability to finish their scoring chances gives them more bark than bite.
Tampa Bay will also have Andrei Vasilevskiy back in net. The perennial Vezina finalist has a 93.3 save percent against the Predators in three games. He and the Lightning won’t be letting in three first-period goals and should soundly beat up on the toothless Preds.
Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning to win