Monday, January 21, 6:05 p.m. ET
Free NHL Pick: Under
Best Line Offered: Bovada
Minnesota has helped itself in winning six of 10 games and is within two points for taking over third-place in the Central Division. Vegas, they have been percolating for a while now, winners of eight of 10 and they are solidly in third place in the Pacific Division.
With Minnesota sitting at 26th in scoring, the Wild front office made two moves this past week to bolster their offense in trading for Victor Rask and Pontus Aberg and immediately pairing them with leading-scorer Zack Parise. Going into Saturday’s contest against Columbus, they had never skated together as a unit, but they tallied the deceive goal in the 2-1 win over the Blue Jackets.
The new-formed unit will see how their act plays on the road in Sin City. Defensively, Minnesota should be able to compete as they are 9th in fewest goals surrendered and 2nd in killing off penalties. The Wild will go up against a like-minded Golden Knights crew that is stingy when it comes to giving up goals.
Vegas’ foundation from the start was built around defense, figuring that was the fastest way to compete. It worked marvelously, playing for the Stanley Cup in their inaugural season. After losing a couple key players to free agency and having the hangover of almost winning the Cup, the Golden Knights are playing back to last year’s level and are 5th in goals allowed. As good as they have been in conceding just 2.66 goals a game, in this 10-game stretch they have only given up 18 scores.
The NHL odds have Vegas as a -175 ML favorite, however, what peeks my interest is the Un6 total. These are two really good defensive teams. VGK is 20-10 UNDER after scoring four or more goals and 12-4 UNDER at home after playing a game where eight or more total goals were scored. The lower score for NHL picks.
Monday, January 21, 7:05 p.m. ET
Free NHL Pick: Sharks ML
Best Line Offered: Bovada
After winning 14 of 19 to jump into second place in the Pacific, San Jose has stumbled badly in the first two games of their four-city road trip before the All-Star break. The Sharks offense was near its No.3 rated offense (3.56 GAG), registering three goals at Arizona and Tampa Bay, however, the defense unraveled in both encounters, losing 6-3 each time.
Acquiring Erik Karlsson was supposed to be the edge San Jose needed on defense, yet that has not been the case, as the Sharks defense does not have much bite, listed 20th. Karlsson has a lower-body injury and did not play against the Lightning and media reports have him maybe sitting until after the All-Star break.
Maybe there is hope for Florida after all or maybe it’s just the ebb and flow of a long hockey season. After losing seven straight, it seemed a certainty the Panthers would make it nine losses, having to face top teams like Toronto and Nashville next.
For reasons unknown, Florida came to play against Maple Leafs on home ice and held them in check with a 3-1 victory on home ice. Evidently, the Panthers like winning for a change and went to Nashville and built a 3-0 lead, before winning 4-2.
The spark was All-Star forward Vincent Trocheck finally made his return to the ice, after being out since Nov. 11th with a fractured ankle. His play and presence lifted the entire team. Yet, Trocheck plays on offense and to repair Florida’s No. 28 stop troops, that’s another matter.
Oddsmakers sent out San Jose as -130 ML fave and they are 37-17 versus losing teams, while Florida is 2-8 facing winning clubs. With the visitor having won five in a row in this matchup, the Sharks are the choice.