NO SID, NO PROBLEM
The New Jersey Devils (2-3 SU, 1-4 O/U last five) will welcome the Pittsburgh Penguins (2-3 SU, 2-3 O/U last five) on Friday for the front end of a back-to-back.
The Devils are 0-3 on the front end of back-to-backs this year and have been outscored 5-13. Honestly, the Devils haven’t been doing much winning at all and are 2-5-2 against Eastern Conference teams and have dropped four straight home games.
The Penguins, on the other hand, have secured a point in four of their last five games as they look to play competitively even without their captain Sidney Crosby, who is out for up to six weeks. A lot of that has to do with the team’s penalty killing, which is a perfect 16 for 16 since October 24 — quite the opposite of the Devils’ PK (19-for-25 or 76 percent).
Look for the Devils to start goalie Mackenzie Blackwood Friday. The netminder has allowed three or more goals in five of his last seven. Teams have covered the -1.5 puckline in three of those seven Blackwood starts. Take the visitor’s puckline: Penguins -1.5.
FLORIDA FEASTS ON FOE’S FENWICK
Advanced stats aren’t for everyone, especially in hockey. But very few stats are as important as Fenwick.
Fenwick is simple: instead of measuring shots on net, it measures shots at the net that weren’t blocked. So, a team with a high Fenwick is getting a lot of pucks towards the net and a team with a Fenwick percentage above 50 is getting shot attempts at a better rate than its opponent.
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The New York Rangers have the worst Fenwick percent at 44.72 over the last three weeks, as their opponents are consistently getting better chances. They’re also near the bottom in the league in expected goals against due to their high-danger chances allowed.
The Florida Panthers and their league-best power play (32 percent) over the last three weeks will host the Rangers on Saturday night. Look for the Panthers to clear their team total of 3.5 goals as they are 5-1 O/U 3.5 goals in their last six. And don’t sweat if Florida has a quiet first period: 78 percent of their goals have been scored in the second and third periods.
VANCOUVER’S PP UNIT TO SNIPE
The Colorado Avalanche (3-2 SU, 3-2O/U last five) will travel to Vancouver to take on the Canucks (1-4 SU, 2-3 O/U last five) on Saturday night. Colorado has been hit with some netminding injuries and may or may not have the services of its top goalies.
The Canucks’ power play is hitting at over 30 percent over their last 10 games which is bad news for the Avs, as they’ve been giving up nearly 10 minutes of power-play time a game. The Over has hit comfortably in the last three matchups in Vancouver (average score 5-4.7). We are leaning towards Vancouver and its team total but are taking the Over 6.5.
A FLEURY OF TROUBLE
After winning five of six starts in the middle of October, Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has hit a rough patch, winning just twice in his last five starts with a 3.78 goals against and an 0.873 save percentage.
The Knights play back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday, so look for Vegas to get backup Malcolm Subban (0-2-2, 3.21 GAA, .899 SV%) a start with Fleury likely going in the home game versus the Calgary Flames on Sunday.
The Flames have yet to win in Vegas over five games but a date with a struggling goalie may fix that. Calgary has traveled well, picking up three wins in its last six and getting a point in four of those contests. Grab the Flames moneyline odds.
GOALIE PROFILE: Jordan Binnington, ST. LOUIS BLUES
The catalyst for the St. Louis Blues’ championship, Jordan Binnington, picked up where he left off last year. The goalie lost his first game in six matches on Tuesday but still only allowed two goals, as the young netminder has seen more than two pucks beat him just twice over his last nine starts.
Things haven’t been easy for Binnington and the Blues, however. In his last 10 starts, six games have gone to overtime and the Blues have covered the -1.5 puckline just twice over that stretch. If you’re looking to capitalize on the West’s best, take a look at the Under as J.B. is 4-6 O/U in his last 10 and 1-4 O/U in his last five between the pipes.
The Blues play the Blue Jackets on Friday and the Ducks on Saturday. We expect Binnington to start Saturday against the Western Conference opponent.
INJURY UPDATE: G Pavel Francouz, COLORADO AVALANCHE
Already without their No.1 goalie, Philipp Grubauer, the Avs lost backup Pavel Francouz early in Tuesday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets. Adam Werner stepped up and grabbed a 4-0 win in his first NHL start but was pulled versus the Oilers on Thursday. The team may be going forward with Werner heading into their Saturday match in Vancouver unless Grubauer can get healthy. He skated this week so a return is possible.
As mentioned above, we like a high-scoring game Saturday with or without Grubauer or Francouz. But if Werner were to start, we would definitely lean on a play with Vancouver, especially with more tape out on the rookie goalie.
HAT TRICK TRENDS
• The Washington Capitals are 7-1-1 O/U at home this year and host the Montreal Canadiens Friday night. The Habs are 6-3 O/U on the road to date. On Saturday, the Florida Panthers will visit the New York Rangers. No teams in the East are scoring more goals than these two clubs while the Over has hit in eight of their last nine meetings.
• The Chicago Blackhawks visited Sin City on Wednesday which means they may catch the Vegas flu when they play the Nashville Predators on Saturday night. Since the Knights came into the league three seasons ago, teams are 30-56 SU (35 percent) all-time on their next game following a trip in Vegas.
• Heading into Saturday’s slate there are three matchups that feature teams combining to hit the first-period Over 1.5 at 65 percent or better: Senators at Sabres 7 p.m. ET (16-4 O/U last 10 combined), Avalanche at Canucks 10 p.m. ET (14-6 O/U last 10 combined), and Islanders at Flyers 7 p.m. ET (13-7 O/U last 10 combined).