Free NHL Betting Predictions March 31
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FLA Panthers -1.5CHI Blackhawks @ FLA Panthers
With how the Blackhawks’ previous 2 games have played out, the last team they want to see are the Panthers, especially in Florida. Two games ago, Chicago held a 3-0 lead midway into the 3rd period against the Golden Knights in a weekend primetime game only to lose in overtime. They followed that performance up with another blown lead at home against a subpar Sabres team. The Blackhawks went up 4-0 easily, only to lose 6-5 in overtime. As great as Patrick Kane is, apparently it’s not enough to carry an entire team on his back.
Meanwhile the Panthers have been preying on seemingly everybody on their way to securing 1st place in the Atlantic Division over their neighbors the Tampa Bay Lightning. Their offense has been scoring faster than lightning with a ridiculous 4.7 goals per game at home. That mark puts them top in the league over the Avalanche and by a landslide. Florida is littered with talent. Jonathan Huberdeau is still in pursuit of leading the league in points and winning the Art Ross Trophy. We should expect him to add to his crazy 93 points while leading the Panthers to a comfortable victory.
CLB Blue Jackets WinCLB Blue Jackets @ NY Islanders
The Columbus Blue Jackets start a 2-game road trip on Thursday when they play the New York Islanders. This will be the 2nd game between these teams in a home-and-home series, with the Islanders taking Tuesday’s game 4-3. The Blue Jackets have been struggling, losing 5 of their last 6 games. The Islanders have been mediocre, going 3-2-0 in their last 5.
This game, however, should come down to goaltending and scheduling. Defensively, the teams are closer than they appear, due to the status of Islanders starting goalie Ilya Sorokin. Both teams are in the bottom 11 in expected goals against, but the Islanders are a top-5 team in goals against per game, due to Sorokin. Sorokin is day-to-day with an upper body injury, meaning Semyon Varlamov is projected to start. Varlamov isn’t bad, he’s just not a top-6 goalie in the league who can mask any defensive mistakes by his team. The schedule doesn’t help the Islanders either, as this will be their 8th game in 12 days, meaning fatigue could be a factor. With these teams having just played a 1- goal game on Tuesday and being closely ranked in various categories, I don’t feel comfortable laying such a large number with the Islanders. A backup goalie behind a fatigued team points to taking the Blue Jackets money line.
CAR Hurricanes -1.5MON Canadiens @ CAR Hurricanes
It seems as though the honeymoon period of the Canadiens’ coaching change has faded, having lost eight of their last 11 games. It’s doubtful Montreal will enjoy their stay in the southern US as they go from one first place team in the Florida Panthers to now face the East’s other first place team in Carolina. The Hurricanes will be looking to storm into this matchup as they’ve had a struggling month by their standards. The Lightning proved to be more powerful than the Hurricanes with a tough overtime loss in Tampa Tuesday night.
Carolina has still held onto their lead in the Metro division leaning on the likes of Sebastian Aho and his five game point streak. Prior to that Lightning loss, the Hurricanes did pull off very impressive road wins beating both the Blues and Capitals by five goals each. Carolina will also be coming into this match up with confidence to increase their division lead knowing they’ll be facing the second worst goaltending in the NHL. Montreal currently allows 3.76 goals per game, only behind the Red Wings. The Canadiens also hold the second worst goal scoring mark with just 2.55/game, only behind the Coyotes. The Hurricanes should continue to ride the storm that is Aho’s point scoring to breeze by the Canadiens.
BOS Bruins -1.5NJ Devils @ BOS Bruins
The Bruins will be thankful to see the Devils rather than the Leafs, who they played in their last outing. Boston got handled by Toronto on Tuesday night, much more so than the final 6-4 score indicates. However, remaining at home for the 4th straight game, expect the Bruins to bounce back against a far weaker Devils squad. New Jersey has the worst road record in the league at an abysmal 8-23-2. Traveling away from Newark has been a primary factor in them being tied for last in the Metro Division with the lowly Flyers.
Meanwhile, the Bruins got back their perfection line last game with Patrice Bergeron returning from injury. Alongside David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, they accounted for 4 points, and are up to 181 points on the season. Boston has also had a pleasant increase in production from last year’s acquisition of Taylor Hall, as he has recorded a point in his past 3 games. The Bru crew know they need to rebound from the loss to the Leafs if they want to overtake that team in the Atlantic Division. We’re entering the final month before the playoffs, and the Bruins should understand that urgency and secure a comfortable victory.
TOR Maple Leafs -1.5WIN Jets @ TOR Maple Leafs
Both the Jets and Maple Leafs are playing very good hockey. What gives Toronto a bit more of an edge is the quality of teams they have been beating. Toronto is 6-3-1 in their last 10 games with 5 wins in their last 7. Among those 5 wins were Dallas, Carolina, Florida, and Boston. Those are very good, playoff-bound teams to beat somewhat handily. Only the Carolina game was a 1-goal game. Toronto’s goal differential over those 4 wins was +10. While the Jets are also playing good hockey, they haven’t beat nearly the caliber of teams that Toronto has. That’s not Winnipeg’s fault as they’re taking care of whoever is in front of them. But Toronto’s upside and recent form looks too good right now.
The Jets will be on the second game of a road back-to-back, so they may not have fresh legs. Winnipeg is 2-2-2 in such situations this season. It will be an uphill battle keeping up with a Toronto team that is playing so well. In this matchup between teams with similar recent form, Toronto has played at a different level and they should be able to beat the Jets by a couple.
MIN Wild WinPIT Penguins @ MIN Wild
The Penguins travel to Minnesota to take on the Wild on Thursday. The Wild are not only one of the best home teams in hockey but they’ve also won 7 straight games heading into tonight’s matchup, so look for the home team to keep the momentum going and pick up the win over Pittsburgh. The Wild have been one of the highest-scoring offenses all season, ranking 4th in goals per game, and that strength has propelled them during this current winning streak, as they have scored 3 or more goals in each of their past 7 wins. The acquisition of Marc-Andre Fleury gives them a significant boost on the other end of the ice, but Cam Talbot has also played extremely well lately, winning his previous 8 starts, giving them a great goaltending tandem for the rest of the season.
Regardless of who the Wild start in net, they should deliver a solid performance against a Penguins team that has suffered from an inconsistent offense this season. In fact, they netted 11 goals against the Red Wings on Sunday before delivering just a 2-goal performance against the Rangers on Tuesday. The veteran group led by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin remain one of the league’s most dangerous units, but their recent inconsistency combined with Minnesota’s scorching hot offense make the Wild the more appealing option in this game.
CAL FlamesLA Kings @ CAL Flames
The Calgary Flames continue their 6-game home stand, hosting a Pacific Division rival in the Los Angeles Kings. The Flames and Kings are 1st and 2nd respectively in this Pacific Division, so there is clearly a high level of significance in this contest. However, Calgary holds a 6-point lead, with 3 games in hand, so they are a lot further away from each other than it seems at first glance. The Kings’ locker room is not thinking about the point difference and are seeing that they are still within reach of 1st place. Expect that goal to be motivation for the rest of the regular season.
There is a major factor that makes the Flames the pick in this game, and that is rest. The Flames are playing the 5th game of a 6-game home stand which has them at home for almost 2 weeks. The Kings are playing on the road for a 2nd straight night. They lost to a tough Oilers team and will now be facing an even tougher Calgary Flames team while battling fatigue. Calgary would be the pick here regardless, but the rest factor pushes it even more in their favor.
COL Avalanche -1.5SJ Sharks @ COL Avalanche
The Avalanche have beaten the Sharks in both head-to-head matchups this season. Both wins were by 2+ goals, most recently 2 weeks ago. As good as the Avalanche are, they don’t bury teams as often as you may think. They have smashed San Jose before though. The Avs have outscored the Sharks 11-5 this season after a game at each venue. For this game, they are catching the Sharks on the 2nd game of a back-to-back and at home in Ball Arena. The Sharks are 2-3-1 this season in back-to-backs and 1-2-1 on the 2nd game of road back-to-backs.
The Avalanche have a big home-ice advantage. They are the NHL’s best home team and have a +1.51 goal differential at home. They average the 2nd-most shots on goal at home in the NHL and also score the league’s 6th-most goals at 5 on 5 at home. San Jose’s last 3 losses have all been by 2+ goals and 2 of those were on the road. The Avalanche being back home to face a weaker team on a back-to-back bodes well for them in this matchup.
DAL Stars WinDAL Stars @ ANA Ducks
The Ducks are riding a tough 10-game winless streak. They have just 4 wins in their last 20 games dating back to January. They lost to the Stars on Tuesday and will get another crack at them on Thursday in a home and home. It won’t get any easier, though. Dallas is the only team in the playoff picture of both conferences that has a negative goal differential. They play a hard style and have just been finding a way to get it done. Dallas is staving off Vegas and Winnipeg, who are nipping at their heels for the 2nd wildcard spot in the West. They are still mathematically very much alive for a top-3 spot in the Central as well. The Stars need to collect all the points they can, which means they have to beat the bad teams.
The Stars come into this game with 4 wins in their last 5 games. Of those wins, 3 were over teams currently in a playoff spot. Dallas also has won 4 of its last 5 road games while Anaheim is 1-5 in its last 6 home games. At the end of the day the Stars on average score more goals, allow fewer goals, have a better goal differential, and are in much better form than the Ducks. This will be a tough spot for Anaheim to try to snap their streak.
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Over 7.0CHI Blackhawks @ FLA Panthers
Over 6.0CLB Blue Jackets @ NY Islanders
Over 6.0MON Canadiens @ CAR Hurricanes
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