STRUGGLING CAPITALS HITTING THE OVER
On Friday, the struggling Washington Capitals head to Carolina to take on the Hurricanes. Washington has picked up just one point in its last four games and has allowed 17 goals in its three most recent losses — Braden Holtby being responsible for 13 of those 17. That’s why the Capitals’ coaching staff has decided to start back up Ilya Samsonov versus the Canes.
Samsonov has won his last five starts and has a 1.71 goals against and .927 save percentage over the last month. Even with the great goalkeeping, games in which Samsonov has started have gone 6-2-1 O/U on the year while the average combined goals for their last five road games is 7.8.
These two clubs played to a 6-4 Carolina win on December 28 in a game that saw three powerplay goals. We are riding the Over 6 on this Friday night tilt.
BUDDING AT THE RIGHT TIME
The last time the Maple Leafs played the New York Islanders, they were in the middle of what would be a season-high six-game losing streak and were coached by Mike Babcock. Well, Babcock is out and the Leafs have gone 14-5 SU since the end of that losing streak and lead the league in scoring, putting up 4.06 goals per game.
The Buds have put up five or more goals in five of their last eight games and lead the league in scoring chances for and high-danger shooting percentage since mid-December. The Leafs could especially do some damage with the man advantage.
Under new coach Sheldon Keefe, Toronto has the best scoring powerplay at 36.8 percent while the Islanders sit in the middle of the league in penalty killing at 79 percent. We are taking the Leafs -1.5 as the Islanders have lost by more than a goal in six of their last eight defeats.
GOALS GALORE VS. RAGS
Saturday night pits the West’s best over the last five games against the team with the highest expected goals against since mid-December. The Rangers will continue their West Coast road trip — three games in five nights — as they take on the surging Canucks in Vancouver on Saturday night.
The Rangers have given up five goals or more in three of their last six thanks to giving up the second-most scoring chances since December 20. No team has given up more goals per game over its last 10 games (4.10) as only two other teams have a worse save percentage over that stretch.
With Vancouver averaging four goals a game since December 20, Saturday night’s game gives bettors a great opportunity to bet with a hot team versus one of the league’s most struggling. We are taking the Cancucks’ team total of 3.5 and smashing the Over.
FINISHING UP THE WEEKEND
After the final game of NFL Wild-Card weekend on Sunday, the sports action doesn’t stop as the Nashville Predators will play the second game of a back-to-back in California and take on the Anaheim Ducks at 10 p.m. ET. The Preds could be without their No. 2 scorer and second-most used player in defenseman Ryan Ellis who was knocked out of Wednesday’s Winter Classic by an elbow to the head.
Nashville has been weak defensively since returning from the break having allowed 15 goals in three games and having allowed five powerplay goals in eight chances since Boxing day. Not having Ellis is a huge loss as the blueliner was playing on the first penalty-kill unit.
The home team has won the last six matchups and Ducks goalie John Gibson has a 2.52 goals against at home compared to a 3.52 GAA on the road. We are backing the home team in what should be decent odds for the West’s No. 14 team. Take the Ducks ML.
GOALIE PROFILE: Jonathan Bernier, DETROIT RED WINGS
There aren’t a lot of nice things to say about the Detroit Red Wings this year as they sit in the league’s basement with 23 points in 41 games, but since coming back from the break, the Wings are 3-0 ATS thanks to two strong games from goalie Jonathan Bernier.
Bernier is 3-2 in his last five starts and is coming off a 2-0 shutout of the Sharks on Tuesday. The Wings’ goalie will face the league’s 9th lowest-scoring team in the Dallas Stars on Friday and should be big underdogs as Detroit has just one win in its last seven road games.
Look to take the Under 5.5 as Bernier is 0-3 O/U in his last three road games and Dallas is 2-7 O/U in its last seven games at home. The Wings at +1.5 is also paying +100.
INJURY UPDATE: F Jeff Skinner, BUFFALO SABRES
Since forward Jeff Skinner hit the I.R three games ago, the Buffalo Sabres are 1-2 SU and will finish a three-game homestand versus the Florida Panthers on Saturday afternoon. Without their fourth-best goal scorer and second-line forward, the Sabres have put up just nine goals in their last four games.
The scoring struggles have also spread to the team’s powerplay as it is 0-for-11 since Christmas. Buffalo will look to get back to its average of 3.10 goals per game against Florida on Saturday afternoon. We like fading teams who are squeezing the stick too tight and will look to take the Under on Buffalo’s team total of 2.5.
HAT TRICK TRENDS
• Favorites have covered the Puck Line at just 29 percent since the break going 13-32. Home favorites have done slightly better than road favorites ATS as the less traveled teams went 9-20 (31%) ATS while road favs went 4-12 (25%) since Christmas.
• The Washington Capitals have the best out-of-conference record in the NHL. The Eastern Conference Capitals are 11-2-4 versus the West and will face the San Jose Sharks on Sunday who Washington has scored at least five times in all three of its last matchups.
• Empty-net goals are a big part of hitting Puck Lines. Losing a plus-money bet because a team can’t put it in the empty cage is heartbreaking. Over the course of the season, the Carolina Hurricanes, Washington Capitals, St. Louis Blues and Pittsburgh Penguins all have at least 10 empty-net goals. Conversely, the Edmonton Oilers (2) and Tampa Bay Lightning (3) are at the bottom of the league in this category.
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