The NHL odds bring their own challenges in the middle of the week of the final week of the regular season with just three games on tap. Nobody promised this would be easy.
Ask Boston about last night, losing at home in OT to Carolina, which really hurt their playoff chances. And what about Anaheim, who is trying to win the Pacific Division and lost their final home game in OT to Winnipeg and has to play three final contests all on the road, including tomorrow night in Los Angeles, whom they are now tied with.
Today the NHL odds feature one very important contest in the Eastern Conference and two games that are less than stellar and fit what Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon told his team before the season opener, "Try Not to Suck."
For months we made NHL picks in order of importance, even when we had just three games, but today we will use the rotation schedule since we would be splitting hairs saying one selection is more important than another. (Keeping it real, place your favorite emogi here)
Columbus and Toronto Involved in Other Chase
While other teams are fighting to make the Stanley Cup playoffs or postseason positioning, Columbus (31-48 SU) and Toronto (28-51 SU) are sort of fighting for something else, not to be the worst team in the East. One of them is going to be and currently, the Maple Leafs have a three-point 'lead', with 67 points compared the Blue Jackets 70.
Both teams have not accomplished much good of late in losing five of six and while some could say they are just waiting for season to conclude, they are also facing teams with far better talent. Toronto is a -110 home favorite, however, the visiting club has taken the past two meetings this season. Both teams have a boatload of negative numbers, yet we did find the Leafs are 14-7 at home after two consecutive home games the last two seasons which works for us.
Free NHL Pick: Toronto -110
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle
High Stakes in Detroit
Philadelphia (39-39 SU) visits Detroit (40-39) and is in a three-way tie with Boston at 91 points, with three teams fighting for two wild card spots. The Flyers at the moment are in the most advantageous position, having played one fewer game than the Red Wings and two fewer than the Bruins. Philadelphia is also playing the best hockey among the three with a 13-4-2 record in their last 19 games.
Detroit can all but decide their fate in next two contests, taking out Philly tonight and winning at Boston tomorrow. The Wings have three possible scenarios, finishing as the top wild card team, the second wild card team or miss the playoffs altogether for the first time in 24 years. No pressure there!
Detroit is a -120 home favorite, yet impossible to ignore how the Flyers are playing. Goalie Steve Mason has a rough outing against Pittsburgh in last game (lost 6-2), but was at 1.57 goals allowed in seven priors tilts and returns with two days off. With Philly 9-2 after losing by four or more goals, we will take the underdog.
Free NHL Pick: Philadelphia +100
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker
History Passes in Edmonton Tonight
Tonight is the final game in the Rexall Place, formally the Northlands Coliseum. It was home to a hockey dynasty, as the Edmonton Oilers won five Stanley Cups there from 1984 to 1990. The sports' greatest player Wayne Gretzky and one of all-time teams have played there since 1974, but tonight, the doors will opened for one final time.
Maybe oddsmakers are counting on a lot of emotion and that will be the case, but Edmonton (30-50 SU) as a -150 home favorite seems like a steep price, especially considering Vancouver (30-49 SU) is on a three-game winning streak against three playoff teams named San Jose, Anaheim, and Los Angeles, the first two coming on the road.
However, the Oilers did shut out the Canucks 2-0 19 days ago at home as -150 faves and Vancouver is 0-7 having won three of four, thus a slight nod to Edmonton and thanks for the memories.
Free NHL Pick: Edmonton -146
Best Line Offered: at Heritage