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CAR Hurricanes Win -1.5MON Canadiens @ CAR Hurricanes
The Montreal Canadiens returned to action on Tuesday with a hard-fought defeat at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 5-4. The Habs gave the Bolts all they could handle, but ultimately fell short in overtime. As promising as that performance was, it is still difficult to trust this Montreal team right now. The Canadiens have managed to gain just 18 points in 32 games this season, which is the second-fewest in the league. They have especially struggled on the road, posting a less than stellar 2-11-3 record away from Bell Centre.
Even before the NHL-wide shutdown, the Carolina Hurricanes had a few games postponed prior to Christmas. This will be their first game in nearly 2 weeks. They are getting healthier, and they have been great at home. Carolina is an impressive 9-3-0 at home, and they should be able to take care of business against a lowly Montreal team. The Canadiens are just 1-5-2 in the month of December, and 4 of their 5 regulation losses came by multiple goals. Take the Hurricanes -1.5 here at home.
NSH -125NAS Predators @ CLB Blue Jackets
The Predators really are rolling right now and the Blue Jackets really are not. Coming out of the NHL pause, Nashville finds themselves having won 7 straight games and 8 out of their last 10. Columbus only has 2 wins in their past 10 games. This will be a tough task for Columbus coming out of the pause. The Predators will be on the second game of a back to back as they play on Wednesday night. But having a game under their belt already, they may be more game ready than Columbus. The Predators beat the Blues Jackets in November by a score of 6-0. At the time, Columbus was 12-8 and Nashville was 12-9-1. Since then, these teams have gone in different directions. Unless Columbus really comes out hot out of the break, this matchup may resemble the first one.
Head to head, Nashville has the statistical advantage in the following categories: goal differential (+10 to -4), power play (25.6% to 18.6%), penalty kill (79.4% to 78.7%)., shot differential (+23 to -138), blocked shots (+27 to -54), save percentage (91.71% to 90.71%), and goals against per game (2.63 to 3.36). This will be an uphill battle for Columbus against a good Nashville team that is also on a roll right now. Nashville -125 at the time of publishing.
Over 6NAS Predators @ CLB Blue Jackets
Though both matchups between these 2 teams have hit a game total of 5, this one looks like it will bring a different style of game. The Panthers are 3rd in the NHL in goals for per game. To break out of their recent slump, they will look to get back to what creates success. What creates success for Florida is generating offense. Tampa Bay is no slouch defensively; it is an NHL 9th-best in goals against per game. But if the Bolts giving up 4 to Montreal on Tuesday is any indication of a potentially sloppy form post-pause, Florida is a team that can capitalize. Tampa Bay’s offensive firepower is also well documented. Both teams should look for their strong offensive play to get on track — or stay on track in Tampa Bay’s case.
NY Islanders WinBUF Sabres @ NY Islanders
The Buffalo Sabres play their second game in as many nights when they play the New York Islanders on Thursday. The Sabres are looking to bounce back after a tough, close loss on Wednesday to the Devils by score of 4-3. The Islanders, on the other hand, will be playing their first game since the break and will look to try to salvage some of their season.
Offensively, there isn’t much of an advantage for either team. Both teams will have top offensive players out due to COVID protocols, and both rank in the bottom half of expected goals for per 60 minutes. In addition, both rank in the bottom 10 of goals for and goals for per game. Defensively, the Islanders have the advantage. It is their preferred method to play defensive hockey, and they have allowed the sixth-fewest goals in the league, and rank 14th to the Sabres 28th in goals against per game. The Islanders also have the advantage in net. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen played Wednesday for the Sabres, so they will more than likely go with Malcolm Subban between the pipes. The Islanders will counter with Ilya Sorokin, who ranks 11th out of 85 goalies in goals saved above expected. Subban ranks 52nd in the that same category. With the Islanders having a tough defense and better goaltending, as well as the Sabres being fatigued from playing the night before, place your bet on the Islanders money line.
CAL Flames WinCAL Flames @ SEA Kraken
Two more Western Conference teams return after the NHL Christmas break and Covid-19 delays, in a game featuring the Calgary Flames and the Seattle Kraken. Calgary hits the road in what will be their first ever matchup against the expansion Kraken. It is hard to compare teams who have never played in the history of the league, but looking at current roster constructions, the Flames take the cake.
Calgary has done very well this season for a reason and are in a playoff spot for a reason. They have a scary number of offensive weapons, along with very reliable depth pieces, and they have some strong names on the back end along with an elite goaltender. Although, they would like to be higher in the standings, as they expect a lot more from a team with a roster of this caliber. This break could be what Calgary needed before they string together a nice stretch of wins starting with Seattle. Seattle often battles hard against every team, but their lack of big names and hurting depth makes it tough for them to come out with wins. Even with a potential gritty attempt by the Kraken, I give this one to the Flames.
SJS -135Philadelphia Flyers vs San Jose Sharks
The Sharks returned from the NHL pause on Tuesday with a wild 8-7 shootout win over the Coyotes. The Sharks had 7 different players score and every forward had at least 1 point. Obviously, they would like to see a better effort on the defensive side. But any time a team puts up 7 goals in regulation and every forward has a point is a good thing. It’s also rare. Both teams come into this game middling both recently and in the larger view of the season. San Jose having a win under their belt and Philadelphia being on the second game of a back-to-back could bode better for the Sharks. The Flyers should get Kevin Hayes and Morgan Frost for this game. But they had to add Derick Brassard, Carter Hart, Scott Laughton, and Sean Couturier to COVID-19 protocol. The Flyers still have some of their top players in the lineup, but their depth will take a big hit for this game.
The Sharks on average score more and allow less goals per game than the Flyers. Philadelphia allows the second most shots on goal per game in the NHL which is a good matchup for a San Jose offense that may be buzzing right now. The Sharks score more goals 5 on 5 and have better percentages for both power play and penalty kill. The next month could make or break both teams’ playoff chances for this season. This matchup favors the Sharks looking to string together wins coming off the holiday break. San Jose -135 at the time of publishing.
VAN Canucks WinVAN Canucks @ LA Kings
Betting is all about finding value in the odds and tonight’s matchup between the Kings and Canucks is a perfect example of that. The Canucks have been one of the hottest teams in hockey since dumping their previous head coach and brining in Bruce Boudreau. Since the switch the Canucks are a perfect 7-0 and are riding high even after the holiday break with a win against the Anaheim Ducks in overtime last night. At one point the Canucks allowed the 5th most goals per game in the league but since the change the defense has been a brick wall allowing just 10 goals over their past 5 games! I like a road underdog that can play defense first because it means they will be in the game however things end up shaking out. The only bit I don’t like about the Canucks tonight is that Thatcher Demko started last night and will likely not play tonight but the Canucks should still be in good hands as Jaroslav Halak is a savy veteran goaltender.
On the home side are an unimpressive Kings team that sit just one point ahead of the Canucks in the Pacific Division standings. They started their return from the holiday break with a 6-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights and looked lost in that contest. LA has a bunch of injuries of note right now as well such as Dustin Brown, Phillip Danault and Olli Maatta that will make things that much more difficult. This will be the second meeting of the season between the Kings and Canucks, Vancouver won the first contest 4-0. Riding the hot hand tonight with the Canucks to see if they can make in 8 in a row under their new coach!
NHL Under-Over Betting Tips
Over 5.5MON Canadiens @ CAR Hurricanes
Under 5.5BUF Sabres @ NY Islanders
Over 5.5CAL Flames @ SEA Kraken
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