Philadelphia Flyers @ Columbus Blue Jackets
If you can believe it, the Philadelphia Flyers would be in the playoffs if they started today. That’s mostly because the Metropolitan Division is the worst of the bunch in the NHL. Their 36 points would have them no better than sixth in any other division but in the Metropolitan, they are third. Even though Columbus is seventh in the same division, they are only four points back of the Flyers, which means Saturday’s matchup has plenty of meaning.
The Blue Jackets have lost three straight but they should get some reinforcements on Saturday. Forward Marian Gaborik and defenseman James Wisniewski are expected back in the lineup, and both are among the Blue Jackets best players at each position.
The Flyers are not a reliable road team as they’ve dropped four straight road games and eight of their last 10. On the season, they are 3-8 when playing on the road with a total of 5.5, which is what they are facing in this spot.
The Blue Jackets have played well in this series at home, so I’ll add them to our NHL picks. They’ve won five of the last six matchups they’ve hosted.
Pick: Blue Jackets -120 at Ladbrokes
The Detroit Red Wings are a road underdog in Toronto and this looks like a good spot to take a shot with them. They’re slumping mightily right now as they’ve lost six of seven and have scored just 12 goals in that span. However, Toronto has also been awful as they have just four wins in their last 14 games.
As bad as Detroit has been of late, they’ve actually been undervalued on the road many times this year even though they play so well away from home. They are 10-3-3 on the road compared to just 6-9-6 at home. I’ll bank on that road record carrying us to a win here.
Pick: Red Wings +110 at Bookmaker
Montreal Canadiens @ Nashville Predators
This is a bit of an ugly game as both teams are struggling mightily going into this matchup. Montreal has lost four of six mostly due to the fact that their offense has completely disappeared. They’ve scored just seven goals over that span and they’ve scored just one goal or less in six of those games. On Saturday, they’ll visit a Nashville team that has sunk all the way to last place in the Central Division standings with just 35 points. They’ve lost two straight and five of seven.
I’m inclined to add the Canadiens to our NHL picks because they have been the better team this season. Even though they are struggling, they have been the better of the two teams this year. As for the Predators, their goaltending has been a sore spot without Pekka Rinne between the pipes. I expect that to help out Montreal. Since this game is virtually a PICK on the NHL odds, I’ll take a shot with Montreal.
Pick: Canadiens -106 at Pinnacle