We have a four game NHL slate on Sunday, so let’s break down all four games.
This game wasn’t originally scheduled to happen, but such is life in the NHL in 2021. Both of these teams lost on Saturday afternoon, so the usual disadvantage presented by a back-to-back situation shouldn’t have much of an impact.
As usual, when teams play back-to-back games, the most important thing to analyze is the goaltending situation. MacKenzie Blackwood started on Saturday for New Jersey, so we should expect backup Scott Wedgewood to get the start. Wedgewood was average at best when he filled in during Blackwood’s battle with Covid-19 earlier in the season.
In the other crease, Vitek Vanecek has started 13 straight games for Washington due to Ilya Samsonov himself coming down with Covid-19. However, it appears that Samsonov is ready to return and he might be making the start on Sunday.
The Devils do a good job of controlling play and the Capitals don’t, but the talent disparity between these teams is great. Washington can overcome losing the possession battle due to the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Nicklas Backstrom.
Wedgewood is barely an NHL goalie while Samsonov is making his first start in nearly a month. I think we see some goals here from both teams and I’d lean towards betting the over.
Bet: Over 6 @ -110
The Canadiens returned to action on Saturday after a week-long hiatus, but the result was not great. The Habs fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 5-3. Montreal outplayed the Leafs in terms of puck possession and generating chances, but Carey Price was not great between the pipes.
Jake Allen will likely start for Montreal on Sunday, and that’s been a good thing this season for the Habs. He’s giving up just two goals per game in his 6 starts and stopping over 93% of the shots he’s facing. Price has been a weakness for Montreal early in the season, but his backup has not been.
Ottawa is where we expected them to be; the bottom of the standings. The team has gotten pitiful goaltending to begin the year. They might not be playing terrible hockey, but they’ve won just 4 of their first 19 games. The Senators have some exciting young players, but overall, the talent level on this team is still low.
Montreal is one of the better teams in the league in terms of generating offense and controlling play, so when you combine that with Ottawa’s poor goaltending, they should be able to score some goals. Jake Allen should provide enough saves where the Habs win this game comfortably.
Bet: Montreal -1.5 @ +120
The NHL will play it’s second game of the weekend at beautiful Lake Tahoe in Nevada. This time, we’ll see the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers face-off.
Philadelphia is returning from an extended absence after many players on their team came down with Covid-19. In fact, they’ll be without six players for this game due to their presence on the Covid list.
Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Travis Konecny are amongst the six Flyers who won’t play in this contest, and those three make up a significant part of Philly’s offense.
This could be an issue when facing arguably the best defensive team in the league. The Bruins suffocate you and limit your chances. Even at full strength, teams struggle to score against Boston.
While Philly’s depleted offense should struggle to score against the Bruins, things are not easy for Boston in the offensive zone. They are below average in terms of goals per game on the season, and they’ve never been known as a team that wins games by out-scoring their opponents.
Boston is much more comfortable grinding teams down and outlasting them in a 2-1, 3-2 type of game than it is in turning games into track-meets.
Combine Boston’s style with the fact that this is an outdoor game where ice conditions aren’t ideal, and I can see a choppy and slow game here.
Bet: Under 5.5 Goals @ +100
Pick your poison in this matchup. Two extremely flawed but extremely talented teams will meet in Western Canada, and handicapping this one is a doozy.
However, I think these teams might be on different trajectories.
Vancouver opened the season as an easy option to bet against, and a fun team to target if you wanted to root for goals. However, they’ve settled down. The Canucks have given up just 14 goals in their last 6 games, which is a tremendous change from the 60 goals they gave up in their first 15 games. They went from giving up four goals a night to just over two.
On the other hand, the Jets are actually impressive in how bad they’ve been defensively. Despite beating the Canucks on Friday, the Jets allowed Vancouver to post an expected goal mark of 3.07 at 5-on-5. The Canucks had 13 high danger chances in the contest!
While Winnipeg has the goaltending ability to overcome defensive efforts like this, it’s certainly not a recipe for success. The Jets are second worst in the league in expected goal rate as well as high danger chances.
This Jets team is inconsistent, splitting most of the series they’ve played in to begin this season. That’s what happens when you can’t defend. If they continue to let the Canucks skate circles in the offensive zone, I think they’ll lose on Sunday.
Bet: Vancouver ML @ -110
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Expert NHL Picks
Devils vs. Capitals - Over 6 @ -110 (Click To Bet)
Montreal Canadiens -1.5 @ +120 (Click To Bet)
Bruins vs. Flyers - Under 5.5 Goals @ +100 (Click To Bet)
Vancouver ML @ +-110 (Click To Bet)
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