After looking over today’s NHL board, I am almost certain that everyone will be able to find at least one play that they really like here. It has been a difficult few days for many who have tried to find good bets in the NHL lately, but given the matchups available and the relatively balanced betting lines, this Thursday shoulddiffi offer significantly fewer headaches and cult decisions. This is not to say that everyone is sure to make a killing on today’s games, because that would be an unlikely scenario, but rather, that no one should feel indecisive or “iffy” about all 11 of the games available, and that many simpler decisions will be at hand.
Here is the rundown:
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blackhawks staggered a bit during a tough stretch of road games against playoff teams, but they have since collected themselves, and have actually posted 2 shutouts in their last 3 games. Columbus has played reasonably well against Chicago this season, but they haven’t won any of the 4 meetings so far, and they’ve lost their last 7 games against playoff-bound opponents. The simple decision here has to be Chicago or nothing.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Atlanta Thrashers
The decision here might not be as simple, but Atlanta was riding a wave of positive momentum going into their 8th place showdown with Boston when it all came to a crashing halt. It may be difficult for them to stand back up after that knockout blow. The only wave of positive momentum going into this game now is Jonas Gustavsson’s 5-game win streak.
Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes
We saw last night just how difficult it is to beat Washington, but Carolina has played tough against their division rival all season long, and coming off a big, emotional win, I wouldn’t want to lay 70 cents here with the Caps. The simple decision here seems to be Carolina or nothing.
Minnesota Wild vs. Philadelphia Flyers
The losses of Michael Leighton and now Jeff Carter appear to mark the beginning of the end here for the Philadelphia Flyers. If it wasn’t clear that Michael Leighton was vital to the Flyers’ success before, it certainly became clear after they put Brian Boucher back in net. Philadelphia’s frustration also led to a great deal of undisciplined play in their last game against Ottawa, and this doesn’t appear to be a team that has it all together right now, or a team that you want to lay 75 cents with.
Calgary Flames vs. New York Islanders
The New York Islanders should come out with a bit of anger here after getting embarassed by the Rangers on Wednesday, but they will be up against a team that desperately wants the win. Not only will Calgary be the more motivated team, but they will also be the better and more rested team in this matchup. This appears to be a very reasonable price to take Calgary.
New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils
The Rangers finally generated a little bit of positivity with their Wednesday night performance, and that should help them a bit going forward, but this will be a tough test for them, as New Jersey has won 5 of their last 6 home games. New Jersey appears to be very steady and even-keeled, while New York is up and down and all over the place, but if they’re on a high, the Rangers might be able to steal one.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins can see the finish line now, and a win here would actually vault them into 6th place in the East. Boston is a much more confident group than what they were a month ago, and they should give another solid effort here. Of course, the -200 price tag kind of sucks the fun out of everything.
Florida Panthers vs. Montreal Canadiens
The Florida Panthers appear to be running pretty good since the Olympic break, as their goal production has increased and they have won 3 out of their last 4 road games. The goaltending matchup here would suggest playing the Under 5.5, but Tomas Vokoun has not been as sharp as he had been back in mid-January. Montreal must also be pretty upset about the way they lost their game to Buffalo on Wednesday, and they may come out of the gates here with a fury.
Phoenix Coyotes vs. Nashville Predators
Both of these teams here should actually be feeling a bit of a letdown after losing for the first time in weeks, but this game probably means a little more to Nashville, knowing that they have Detroit in their rear-view mirror, and the Avs and Kings just one win away. It should also be noted that 5 of Phoenix’s 9 consecutive wins actually came via the shootout, so the Coyotes may be good, but they weren’t necessarily a dominating or overpowering team. No easy decision here though.
Los Angeles Kings vs. St Louis Blues
Wednesday night’s loss for the Blues was a heartbreaker in many ways; it set St Louis a full 10 points back of 8th place Detroit, and given their success over Detroit this season, it was probably a game that they really expected to win, and very well could have won, had it not been for one rather unfortunate gaff. St Louis currently holds the worst home record in the NHL anyway, so LA should probably be the logical decision here.
Dallas Stars vs. San Jose Sharks
The Dallas Stars punished San Jose for just about every mistake that they made in their March 16th meeting in Dallas. The Sharks probably still remember it pretty clearly though, and will probably have extra motivation here to return the favour. The better side of the bet is probably Dallas’ side though, as the Stars have won 3 of the 4 head-to-head meetings this season, and are playing without the added pressure of needing to win.