PICK OF THE DAY: (2u) Blues -1.5 @ +110
New Jersey Devils @ St. Louis Blues, 8:00 PM:
- The Blues have won 16 of the last 17 meetings with the Devils, including 11 straight
- St Louis has won each of the last seven home games against the Devils by at least 2.4 goals. (Stats courtesy of Statschecker).
The reason we’re backing St. Louis
The Blues (32-17-10) continued to pile up losses after suffering a fifth consecutive defeat on the road to the Nashville Predators 2-1.
St. Louis went back and forth with Nashville and outshot the Predators 39-to-24, yet only managed to put the one goal away.
Center Tyler Bozak tied the game at one midway through the second period with his 12th goal of the season. Goalie Jordan Binnington was solid in net, putting together 22 saves, but would allow the game-winning goal slip past him with two minutes remaining in regulation.
Behind Binnington, the Blues rank 10th best in the NHL, allowing 2.86 GA/G. Meanwhile, the Devils rank second worst in the league allowing 3.41 GA/G.
New Jersey (22-26-10) got back on track at home, edging out the Columbus Blue Jackets in a shootout 4-3.
The Devils’ usually questionable goaltending managed to hold strong despite the poor defense - Columbus outshot New Jersey 55 to 26.
The Devils went down 2-0 in a hurry during the first period but managed to score three unanswered in the second period to take a one-goal lead.
Joey Anderson got New Jersey on the board with his second goal of the season and Nick Merkley scored his first NHL goal before Kyle Palmieri added his 22nd tally of the year for the go-ahead goal.
New Jersey’s defensive issues are a major cause for concern and if that weren’t enough, their road troubles are even more of a reason to not have confidence in them pulling off the upset - the Devils have a 12-16 away record.
I like St. Louis to build on their home success (18-6-5) and cover the Puck Line.
(1u) Maple Leafs ML @ +125
Toronto Maple Leafs @ Pittsburgh Penguins, 7:00 PM:
- The Maple Leafs have a 3-1-1 W/L/OTL record in Pittsburgh coming off a loss since 2012-13. (Stat courtesy of Statschecker).
The reason we’re backing Toronto
Two of the top seven offenses in the NHL clash when Pittsburgh hosts Toronto.
The Maple Leafs rank third best in the league, averaging 3.50 GF/G, and the Penguins total 3.30 GF/G which is seventh best.
Toronto (31-21-8) stumbled on the road in Buffalo and suffered a third loss over the last five games, losing to the Sabres 5-2.
The Maple Leafs trailed by two goals midway through the second period before finally getting on the scoreboard courtesy of right-wing Egor Korshkov’s first career NHL goal.
Center Zach Hyman then tied the game at two with his 18th goal of the season to open the third period, but Toronto would end up allowing three unanswered goals to close out the game.
Although he was held off the stat sheet, center Auston Matthews still ranks tied for the NHL lead with 42 goals scored.
Pittsburgh (36-15-6) picked up a second straight win with ease as they dominated the Detroit Red Wings 5-1.
The Penguins went down a goal early in the first period but would score five unanswered to blow out Detroit.
Right-wing Patric Hornqvist stuffed the stat sheet, scoring two second-period goals, and added a power-play assist. Center Sidney Crosby contributed his 11th goal of the season and a power-play assist.
These teams met in Pittsburgh late in November which resulted in a matchup Toronto would like to forget as the Penguins won 6-1.
With the Maple Leafs sitting as the third seed in the Atlantic Division, and narrowly holding onto a spot in the playoff picture, Toronto will be motivated to find a way to win this tough matchup - especially after being embarrassed in November.
My expectation is the Maple Leafs will come up big offensively and keep up with Pittsburgh enough to sneak out the upset late.