2-4: With many hockey fan turning their eyes to the Devils-Flyers matchup tonight as New Jersey goes for that record-tying season-opening road winning streak, we’re breaking down some other solid matchups in the NHL tonight including two big road underdogs with very good shots at the upset.
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New York Islanders +155 at Boston Bruins -175
New York can score goals as they’ve shown averaging 4.5 goals per game over their last 4 games – 3 of them on the road. Unfortunately for the Islanders, their defense has been shoddy allowing 4 goals per game over that stretch. The Bruins’ scorers picked up a little slack against backup Brent Johnson in Pittsburgh but for the most part haven’t been able to produce any offense against teams that are playing their first goaltenders (4 goals in their last 5 against starters). Boston is still playing without Marc Savard and Milan Lucic. Martin Biron is coming off of 3 quality starts in his last 4 games and looks to build off of his most recent start, a win in Carolina on Friday. The Bruins are countering with Rask, who started against the Islanders in his first start of the season and took the game to a 4-3 shootout in Boston (against Dwayne Roloson). Rask gives New York some breathing room as Tim Thomas has played shut-down hockey for the Bruins in his recent starts. The Islanders haven’t beaten Boston in 7 straight games but their recent offense provides them with the best chance to win as they continue their 8-game road trip.
Pick: Isles +155
Edmonton Oilers +140 at Columbus Blue Jackets -160
Mathieu Garon is going for the Jackets tonight against his former team as Steve Mason appears to be a little off his game (and nursing back spasms). Edmonton is a struggling, having only won 1 of their last 7 games. Their Eastern Conference road stretch (where they are winless on the season) is over now until March so the Oilers can hope to build off of their 2-3-0 road record against Western Conference teams. Garon has won his last 2 starts, including 1 at home, but struggled in his last start against Edmonton on Oct 22, allowing 5 goals for the loss. Jeff Deslaurier might get the nod for the Oilers as they’re on the second game of a back-to-back and has played well this season, 1-1-1 with a 1.96 GAA. Either way, the Oilers played excellent hockey yesterday afternoon, keeping the Thrashers’ surging offense mostly at bay, but couldn’t escape with the win. The Blue Jackets’ 3.1 goals per game offense disappears at home, where they’ve only managed 2.3 goals per game and allowed 3.0 goals per game. The Oilers matchup identically, averaging 2.3 goals per game on the road and 3.0 goals allowed. Edmonton’s injuries are finally subsiding as Sheldon Souray returned on Sunday and will provide a boost to an already powerful 12th-ranked road powerplay. This game is closer than the lines would indicate and I like the Oilers to round out their road trip the same way they kicked it off.
Pick: Oilers +140
Anaheim Ducks +135 at Pittsburgh Penguins -155
Pittsburgh has beaten Anaheim in 3 straight meetings between the clubs, 2 of them at home. The Ducks are riding a 3-game losing streak and close out their 4-game road trip tonight. The Penguins ended their 4-game slide with a big win at home to Boston but they have been playing sloppy hockey of late. There was a lot of talk that the injuries were getting to the team or that Sidney Crosby was playing hurt but Crosby responded for the Penguins and Evgeni Malkin contributed immediately to the scoresheet on Saturday. The Penguins still have a lot more injuries to deal with, mainly with their defensive core as Sergei Gonchar, Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik and Alex Goligoski are all likely to be out in addition to Maxime Talbot, Tyler Kennedy and Chris Kunitz. Marc-Andre Fleury will need to be on top of his game to keep the Ducks’ offense from keeping the puck out of the net as he’ll likely see a lot of shots on goal. This game will be decided on special teams and Malkin’s return gives the Pens’ third-worst powerplay a strong boost as they broke their 0-28 powerplay slump last game out. The Ducks have the league’s worst road penalty kill, 68.4%, and will need to stay out of the box in order to have a shot.
Pick: Over 5.5 goals -115
Tampa Bay Lightning +100 at Phoenix Coyotes -120
Tampa Bay has the second-worst road scoring in the league at 1.9 goals per game and the 4th-worst road defense in the league, at 3.8 goals per game. Phoenix, however, has only won 2 of their last 6 games after opening the season so strong and doesn’t tend to score much at home, only averaging 2.7 goals per game. The Coyotes appear to have returned to their defensive roots, despite losing Ed Jovanovski and Zbynek Michalek to injuries, going under in 3 of their last 5. The Lighting can match that defensive style of play as they’ve gone under in 4 of their last 5 games and under in their last 3 road games.
Pick: Under 5.5 goals -135
Fan Favourite Record: 2-4, -3.32
Betting results by category so far this season:
- Money Line 41-39, -19.23
- Puck Line 7-16, -7.3
- Game Totals 37-25-1, +3.32