Devils as Dogs Too Hard to Pass Up Against Surging Panthers

Dana Lane

Thursday, March 1, 2018 1:54 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 1, 2018 1:54 PM UTC

New Jersey has won seven of its past eight games against Eastern Conference opponents, and that trend is likely to continue tonight against a Florida team making a playoff push.

Thursday NHL: Devils vs. PanthersFree NHL Pick: Devils +125Best Line Offered: Heritage

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The New Jersey Devils (38-22-8, 74 points, -2 goal differential) are just two points behind Pittsburgh for the third spot in the Metropolitan Division. The Florida Panthers (29-25-6, 64 points, -17) won’t be able to catch any of the top three teams in the Atlantic but they have clawed their way back into contention for a wild-card spot, trailing Columbus by five points. The Devils and Panthers meet tonight at 7:30 ET at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida.

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It's #RadioCallWednesday presented by @PlymouthRock! Relive @KylePalmieri's GWG on #PattyForever Night through the voice of #NJDevils radio broadcaster @MattLoug.

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— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) February 28, 2018

Top 10 Power Rankings: New Jersey NR; Florida NR

Key Statistic: New Jersey 47.2 percent FO (30th); Florida 34.5 shots per game (second)

In order for us to get a win tonight with our NHL picks, the Devils will have slow down the hard-charging Panthers. Florida can smell a postseason berth after winning six of their past eight, including three straight against playoff-bound Pittsburgh, Toronto and Washington.

Impressive, but New Jersey -- another playoff team -- also has won six of its last eight, including a road victory Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

Taylor Hall has been on fire for the Devils, with four goals and three assists over his past five games. Nico Hischier is starting to mature into the player Jersey envisioned, and Kyle Palmieri has five points in his last five. That first line has combined for 31 points in their last 30 combined games. Hall has a point in each of his past 22 games.

Florida’s first line has matched that production by scoring 31 points over the same span of games.

There is no doubt that this winner won’t be an easy cash, but I feel as if the Panthers are ripe for a letdown after their huge win over Toronto on Tuesday. The Panthers have a few injury issues, with newly acquired Frank Vatrano not expected to make his debut until next week (high ankle sprain) and Denis Malgin out at least two weeks (lower-body injury).

Roberto Luongo (10-7-1, .927, 2.61 GAA) is the confirmed starter for the Panthers, while Keith Kinkaid (15-8-2, .903, 2.99 GAA) gets the crease for the Devils. Luongo has won three straight games but has given up an average of three goals in those wins, including five to the Penguins.

Kinkaid gets the edge in this matchup, winning five of his past six starts while not allowing more than two goals in a game since Feb. 13 against Philadelphia. He has allowed just nine goals in his last five starts.

Kinkaid shines tonight and the Devils get the plus money on the NHL odds board.

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