GETTING TO KNOW EACH OTHER
Friday gives us a matchup that pits the two best teams in the East over the last 10 games as the New York Rangers travel to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers. The Rangers are big underdogs on the backend of a back-to-back even though they have ripped off nine straight wins on the road while the Flyers have won seven of their last eight on home ice.
Since February 10, both teams sit in the top-5 in goals for as each team is potting more than 3.6 per contest. The Flyers are 5-0-2 O/U in their last seven while the Rangers are 4-2 O/U on the road in their last six. These teams will face each other again on Sunday and we like a loose game in the first set before tightening up in Game 2. We are taking the Over 6 to start the weekend.
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The Colorado Avalanche have really shut things down defensively over their last five games as they have allowed a league-low eight goals. Goalie Pavel Francouz has stepped up in a big way since Philipp Grubauer hit the shelf winning four straight starts and giving up just four goals.
Although Nashville’s 2.63 goals against over the last two weeks isn’t on the level as Colorado’s 1.75 per game, the Predators’ goals against is still top-10 and Pekka Rinne sits in the top-10 in high danger save percentage, scoring chance save percentage and expected goals against. They are also 1-4 O/U in their last five and 2-6-1 O/U in their last nine at home. We are grabbing the bet that takes years off your life and grabbing the Under 6 on Saturday night.
NOBODY IS WORSE AT SCORING
The two worst teams in the East will square off on Saturday as the Ottawa Senators and the Detroit Red Wings will have their fourth meeting of the year. Ottawa is in the middle of a ridiculous schedule as the Saturday tilt will be its 12th game in 19 days.
The Senators have taken two of the three matchups this season with the Over hitting in both the Senators' wins and the Under cashing on Detroit’s 3-2 shootout win back in January. Both teams were very active at the trade deadline and shipped off big pieces of their core group. Detroit is 1-7-2 O/U in its last 10 while the Sens have also struggled to put up points averaging just 2.15 goals per game — the second-lowest mark next to Detroit at 1.46. We are continuing the total train this weekend (sorry moneyline guys and gals) and hitting the Under 5.5 on the league’s worst offenses who are even more shorthanded than usual.
THE OVER IS GOING UP IN FLAMES
The Florida Panthers have the best home O/U records in the league at 19-8-3 while also going 6-2 O/U in their last eight. The Cats are a middle-of-the-pack team in expected goals for in February but are dead last in expected goals against. That could spell trouble on Sunday when the playoff-hopeful Panthers face February’s hottest offense in the Calgary Flames.
Calgary is averaging a healthy 4.63 goals for over the last three weeks and has the most goals at 5-on-5 — it also has the most goals against at 5-on-5. All this points to a profitable Over team as Calgary is 12-2-1 O/U in its last 15 games. The market really hasn’t adjusted to this as the Flames have seen a total of 6.5 just twice across their Over stretch. We are finishing the week off cheering for goals and taking the Over 6 (and up to 6.5) on this Sunday 4 PM ET matchup.
GOALIE PROFILE: ANTTI RAANTA, ARIZONA COYOTES
Playing hockey in the desert will never make you a household name. We love hockey but would still be in tough to name 10 players on the Arizona Coyotes. Although the Yotes’ playoff hopes are dwindling, the blame game shall not be passed to their goalie Antti Raanta. The 30-year-old Finn has a .921 save percentage in 32 games this year and has been the de facto No. 1 with Darcy Kuemper on the shelf.
In his nine starts this month, Raanta has picked up five wins and allowed two goals or fewer in six of them. The Under has also been profitable on the netminder as Arizona is 2-7 O/U in February when Raanta starts. Feel comfortable riding the Under with the Coyotes as they play Buffalo on Saturday.
INJURY UPDATE: JAKE MUZZIN, TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
The Leafs are down three of their top-6 defenders as the recently re-signed Jake Muzzin will miss the next four weeks with a broken hand after blocking a shot earlier in the week. This leaves Tyson Barrie as the No. 1 defenseman and the former Avalanche has more games played in the NHL than the remaining five Maple Leafs blueliners combined.
Toronto will be starting 19-year-old Rasmus Sandin and a 20-year-old Timothy Liljegren for a good stretch of the remaining games this year. Things could get even uglier for the Leafs who are seemingly addicted to inconsistency as they averaged north of three goals against a game with Muzzin in the lineup and could be in for some more typical-Toronto defensive lapses with such a young D-core.
HAT TRICK TRENDS
• People say playing on the road has changed over the years as dressing rooms, accommodations and transportation have all been upgraded. These people may be on to something. On the year, away teams have won 47 percent of games. That number jumps to 48 percent over the last two months and 51 percent in the last month. Don’t be swayed too much and take the value that comes with riding an away team.
• First-period moneylines are a fun a quick bet. Straight ML bets can push if the score is tied after one period and if you play the -0.5, some big bucks can be won. Since the beginning of 2020, the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames, New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues are the league’s best at scoring first-period goals while the Winnipeg Jets, Vegas Golden Knights, Calgary Flames and Philadelphia Flyers are the league’s worst at keeping pucks out of the net in the first period.
• The Vancouver Canucks lead the league this month in penalty minutes per game at a robust 13.43 per match. That is nearly four-full minutes more than the fifth-highest team. Coincidentally, the Canucks also have the league’s second-best powerplay in February at a 29 percent success rate.