Free Hockey Picks: 3 Monday Favorites To Target in the NHL
Free Hockey Picks
Monday’s slate of NHL games features a whopping 10 games (an 11th was postponed due to COVID-19), making it the busiest Monday of the season so far. We’re now officially a month into the season, and the parity this season is greater than any in recent memory.
To help you sift through the muddled schedule, here are three betting favorites we’re predicting to win on Monday.
Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning (-168)
Monday’s game between the Panthers and Lightning marks the third straight meeting between the two teams. Florida won 5-2 last Thursday, but Tampa Bay responded with a 6-1 win on Saturday night. Monday’s puck drop is at 7 pm ET.
For the third straight game, the goaltending matchup is expected to be Sergei Bobrovsky against Andrei Vasilevskiy. Bobrovsky has struggled throughout the season, putting up a 5-1-1 record but also notching a .884 save percentage and a 3.33 GAA.
Conversely, Vasilevskiy has shined with a 9-2-1 record, a .933 save percentage, and a 1.92 GAA.
After losing Steven Stamkos and Anthony Cirelli to injuries and illness Thursday, the Lightning responded in a major way Saturday night. Five different Tampa Bay skaters scored goals. Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, and Mathieu Joseph all had multi-point games.
One area that’s a particular cause for concern for Florida is on the penalty kill. The Panthers have killed off 74.3% of penalties this season, the seventh-worst total in the league. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has the league’s seventh-best power play at 28.3%. Florida struggles to generate scoring at even strength, scoring the fifth-fewest 5-on-5 goals this year. Only one of the teams with fewer even-strength goals than the Panthers has played more games as well.
Tampa Bay’s defense allows the second-fewest even-strength goals this year, trailing only the New Jersey Devils, who have played four fewer games than the Lightning. Beyond the balanced and deep roster, the Lightning average the most goals per game (3.85) and the fewest goals against per game (2.00) in the league this season. They can beat opponents at either end of the ice, and with a perennial Vezina candidate in Vasilevskiy between the pipes, Tampa Bay is always a safe bet. Take it to win Monday.
Betting Tip: Fanduel currently has the best odds at -168, they also have the best odds for the Lightning to win by two goals at +164, which is a noticeable difference. See all NHL odds on our NHL Odds comparison page.
New York Islanders (-159) at Buffalo Sabres
One of the biggest reasons the Islanders enter as the favorites for this game is because the Sabres have not played since Jan. 31 after a COVID-19 outbreak hit the team. Buffalo (4-4-2) lost two of its last three games before the break. Puck drop here is at 7 pm ET.
Meanwhile, the Islanders are coming in hot, going 3-0-1 over their last four games. That one loss was a shootout loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins that came after Evgeni Malkin tied the game with 18 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime. Mathew Barzal is on a 10-game point streak and has scored six goals and eight assists this season. He leads the Islanders in points and is tied with Jordan Eberle for the team lead in goals.
For Buffalo, several key players are still in COVID-19 protocol, and it is unclear if they will be returning to the ice for Monday’s game. Taylor Hall, Sam Reinhart, Rasmus Ristolainen, Dylan Cozens, Casey Middlestadt, Curtis Lazar, Jake McCabe, Tobias Rieder, and Brandon Montour are all still on the COVID-19 list.
Hall and Reinhart practiced on Sunday, so there is optimism they may return to the ice.
Even when it was healthy, Buffalo sat in the bottom half of the league in goals for and goals against. While the Islanders have had some trouble scoring this season, they’re heating up, and they’re healthy. The advantage is with the Islanders Monday night.
Get the best NHL odds on our NHL Odds comparison page.
Calgary Flames (-132) at Vancouver Canucks
Calgary has had Vancouver’s number for most of the season, winning three of their four meetings so far and all by multiple goals. As the rivals meet again for the third of four consecutive meetings, the animosity is ramping up between the two clubs. Puck drop for this one is at 10 pm ET.
The Flames’ third line of Milan Lucic, Mikael Backlund, and Andrew Mangiapane has combined for 11 points over their past four games. Calgary has lacked depth scoring this season, so getting that contribution from bottom-six forwards is critical for its success. Vancouver has been a train-wreck defensively and in net this season. The Canucks allow 3.72 goals per game, the second-most in the league behind the Ottawa Senators.
Both Thatcher Demko and Braden Holtby have losing records, sub-.900 save percentages and GAAs above 3.40. Johnny Gaudreau has scored points in 12 of Calgary’s 14 games this season. I expect him to find his name on the scoresheet once again Monday night and for the Flames to come away with the win.
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Derek is a long time sports bettor who grew up in Providence, RI. Derek is data driven and believes the key to betting the sportsbooks is finding an edge in analytics. Derek is happily married and has two young boys. Derek will bet on anything if you let him.