Daily NHL Picks: Ice the Books With Our Wednesday's Trio of Winners

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, December 30, 2015 3:00 PM GMT

It's the last Wednesday of 2015 and for having five games to choose, these are some of the toughest NHL odds all season. Check inside for the top NHL picks of the day.

I'm also not going to take the easy way out on this day, with Washington being such an obvious choice, though I will probably bet them myself for NHL picks. But the rest are not easy and I will go a little different direction today looking at a couple totals.

While bringing up totals, what a crazy day yesterday, as six of the 10 games ended up with seven or more total goals scored. One was my lone loser from yesterday, as Dallas was mentally unprepared for lesser opponent again and lost to Columbus 6-3.

 

Pittsburgh Wins, But With Reservations
The NHL odds say the Penguins (17-18 SU) are -165 home favorites over visiting Toronto (13-22 SU), which should be a no-brainer. Other than Evgeni Malkin and currently injured goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, most hockey experts consider this an underachieving roster, who is only 9-9 SU at home.

At least Pittsburgh should be pleased to see the Maple Leafs continue to struggle. The Penguins have won seven straight over Toronto, including four in a row at home. Both early wins this season by Pittsburgh came with Fleury in net and coach Mike Sullivan has an arduous decision to make, go with struggling Jeff Zatkoff, whose dropped to 0-4-1 with a 2.97 goals-against average in his last five starts or rookie Matt Murray (2-1, 1.68 GAA).

If Pens can build an early lead, it might not matter, because the situation hardly fits Toronto who is 5-22 revenging a home loss and 11-29 after a defeat by two goals or more in their previous game the last two seasons.

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Free NHL Pick: Pittsburgh wins
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

 

Many Flashing Red Lights in Ottawa Tonight
With some discussion about the NHL making the goal larger in the future, one of the biggest proponents to have this happen immediately is New Jersey, who ranks 27th in scoring at 2.30 goals a game. Lately, it has been even harder for the Devils to find the back of the net, scoring 18 times in their last 10 contests.

Conversely, Ottawa is ranked fourth in scoring at 2.92 GAG, but has issues in the other end of the rink in allowing the exact same amount of goals at 2.92.

Besides not scoring much, New Jersey plays a slower game than Ottawa, which is why not once this season have the oddsmakers posted a total higher than 5 on any of their games. The Senators are more free-wheeling and only five times has their total been as low as 5 this season, which it presently is today.

This leads to opportunity, at least it appears so. Ottawa has played four home contests in which the set total was 5 and in each case the game was an OVER, and decidedly so, with the average total score 7.75 goals. Yes, the sample size is small, but it points to the Senators dictating tempo on home ice which I think will happen here.

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Free NHL Pick: Play Over
Best Line Offered: at Bovada

 

Play the Total in Tampa
No wonder the New York Rangers are 4-12 SU in their last 16 outings. Known for defense, the Rangers are quite offensive when it comes to keeping the puck out of the net these days. Since Dec.11th, covering eight encounters, the Blueshirts have permitted an outrageous 4.75 GAG. This loose style of play has improved their scoring to 3.2 GAG, but certainly not there bottom line.

Tampa Bay lost to Montreal in OT on Monday, but they did register three goals, which is encouraging news, giving them a 3.6 GAG average in their last half dozen, moving them from 23rd to 19th in scoring in the NHL.

With the total at 5, this looks like a chance for OVER action and New York supports this belief with 13-3 OVER mark after consecutive nonconference games the last two seasons.

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Free NHL Pick: Play Over
Best Line Offered: at The Greek