Super-sized Saturday of hockey choices with a dozen releases from the sportbooks and some really inviting betting odds to contemplate for what should be a busy day for sports picks.
Got back on the winning track yesterday, but might have to give up on Edmonton for spell in NHL picks as I have missed on them as favorites and underdogs recently.
Given the current streaks of both Montreal (good) and Columbus (bad), it would be easy to choose them against the NHL odds, but we will look elsewhere to find winners.
Ottawa Takes Advantage of Arizona's Leaky Defense
Neither Arizona or Ottawa is playing very good hockey at the moment. The Coyotes have lost four in a row and the Senators have dumped three straight. Though goalies Mike Smith and Craig Anderson have been in the league for years, neither is considered an elite goaltender, more similar to the Ryan Fitzpatrick's and Brian Hoyer's in the NFL, serviceable but not great.
Smith in particular has been a focus with soft goals, poor stick work and bad judgment around the cage. In both cases, it is not all on the goaltenders, with defensemen not clearing pucks out of the zone or being out of position to allow the extra pass to the other side of the ice to an open shooter who can just pushes the puck in the net with the goalie scrambling to move from one side to the other.
Heritage Sports released Ottawa as -165 money line favorites and this hockey handicapper is going to agree with that assessment, with Arizona 5-22 having lost four of their last five games and seven of eight in Ottawa since 2000.
Free NHL Pick - Ottawa wins
Nashville Adds To Pittsburgh's Problems
The Penguins at 3-4 is not necessarily alarming as other good teams have not started well also. But what is stunning is Pittsburgh has 11 goals in seven games and they are 29th in scoring in the NHL. Sidney Crosby did not have a point in his first five games and offensive-minded Phil Kessel has just three for the season, two of them goals. So what is wrong with Pittsburgh?
It's not shot attempts, as the Pens are second in the league at 33.7 and the players and coaches are going with it is just a matter of time before they start scoring in bunches. But a deeper look finds the attempts coming from longer distances, where the opposing goaltender can see the puck unimpeded to kick away or catch and release.
Nashville has began the season 6-1 and a perfect 4-0 and netminder Pekka Rinne is one of the best and he's off to a 5-1-0 start with a 1.82 goals against average. Though Pittsburgh has given him a few issues, Rinne's offensive teammates are playing well and are 11-1 at the Bridgestone Arena after scoring three goals or more in three straight contests.
Free NHL Pick - Nashville wins
Islanders Finally Break the Ice in St. Louis
New York really played poorly in 5-3 setback to Boston last night (had that one correct) and travel to St. Louis, where they have lost four in a row and seldom play well at the Scottrade Center. The Blues are back home where they will take the ice before the home fans for only the second time after a lengthy six-game road trip, which was quite satisfying at 4-2.
However, St. Louis has as many injuries at the moment as any team in the league and eventually that has to take a toll. The Blues are -145 home favorites and have not played a game since Tuesday and are 1-7 with three or more days off. With the Islanders 20-10 against teams averaging five or more assists per game since last season, I believe they pull off the upset.
Free NHL Pick - New York wins