Check out our top NHL expert picks for Thursday’s schedule.
There’s an 11-game NHL slate on the docket for Thursday, with no games yet postponed by COVID-19 issues. However, several teams are still dealing with COVID or injury-related absences, leading to some lopsided moneyline prices. Our NHL experts are turning to the puck lines for their top picks of the day.
Here are the top puck line and Over/Under picks for Thursday’s NHL games from our hockey experts (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).
Thursday’s Top Expert NHL Picks
Top NHL Expert PL Picks
Predators -1.5 (-140)
Two teams going in opposite directions clash in Nashville. The Buffalo Sabres won two of their last 15 games and six of the losses in that stretch were by multiple goals. Tage Thompson, who leads the Sabres with 12 goals and 23 points, is out due to COVID-19 protocols and Buffalo’s goaltending situation is extremely shaky after Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Malcolm Subban were both injured on Tuesday.
That leaves veteran Aaron Dell to start on Thursday, and he has a .872 save percentage in seven appearances for Buffalo this season, allowing 19 goals in 10 periods of action during his four starts.
On the other hand, the Nashville Predators are 12-1-1 over their last 14 games and five of those wins were by more than one goal. With Nashville at home, where it is 11-5, and Buffalo on the road, where it is 4-8-4, this game should be a mismatch, so it makes sense to take a shot at the Preds on the puck line. – Cullen
Hurricanes -1.5 (-110)
The Carolina Hurricanes had their last game postponed due to COVID-related issues with the opposition and they’re raring to go after a few days off. The 'Canes are back at home where they’re 11-3-1 this season.
This is the second meeting between these two teams in 2022. The Hurricanes won the first clash 7-4 in Columbus. In fact, Carolina has won the last five meetings dating back to last season.
Goaltender Frederik Andersen has been a rock for the Hurricanes with an 18-5-0 record, 1.96 goals against average, and .929 save percentage. The 'Canes have the advantage overall and in the crease with Columbus starting Elvis Merzlikins (12-8-1, 3.20 GAA, .907 SV%).
The puck line is a good value play with Carolina as a -260 favorite on the moneyline. The Hurricanes’ last six wins were all by at least two goals and the Blue Jackets’ last four losses –– all since the break –– were multi-goal defeats. - Gilbert
Hurricanes -1.5 (-110)
The Hurricanes and Blue Jackets are headed in opposite directions in the Metropolitan division.
Sitting aloft in first place, Carolina is in the top 10 in the NHL in both Corsi for percentage (second), and expected goals for percentage (sixth), while scoring 3.48 goals per game (fourth), and surrendering a minuscule 2.21 goals per contest (first). In other words, the Hurricanes are extremely good, and they come by it honestly.
Since returning from the COVID/holiday break, the Hurricanes boast a 3-0-1 record, while outscoring their opponents 20-11.
Conversely, the quickly sinking Blue Jackets are 2-4 since the break, and they were outscored 27-17 during that span. One of those games was a 7-4 loss to the Hurricanes on New Year’s Day. Columbus memorably blew a 4-0 lead, allowing Carolina to pot a remarkable seven straight goals en route to a blowout win. - Smith
Top NHL Expert O/U Picks
Kraken-Blues Over 6 (+100)
It looks like this will be a battle of backup goaltenders, pitting the Seattle Kraken's Chris Driedger against the St. Louis Blues' Ville Husso.
The Kraken have not been able to get saves this season and have played to totals over six goals in four straight games and a total of at least six in nine of their last 13 games on the road. Seattle’s goaltending has been so poor this season that favorable regression should be coming but it hasn’t yet and Driedger has an .892 SV% through nine appearances.
The Blues had hit a total of six or more goals in five straight games before Sunday’s 2-1 win against the Dallas Stars. They are the fifth-highest scoring team on home ice, averaging 3.75 goals per 60 minutes, and taking that against a Kraken team with questions in net should cash the Over. – Cullen
Blue Jackets-Hurricanes Over 6 (-120)
The Hurricanes outscored their opponents 20-11 in four games since the break. The Blue Jackets have had a lot of high-scoring games the opposite way, getting outscored 27-17 in six games since the break.
These teams combined for 11 goals on New Year's Day and the total for Thursday is set at six. Carolina's games have hit at least six goals in three straight and in five of six. For Columbus, eight of its last nine games had six or more total goals.
This should be a high-scoring game in Carolina. - Gilbert
Canucks-Lightning Over 5.5 (-120)
Tampa Bay is starting to really light the lamp, and the return of Nikita Kucherov only makes the lineup deadlier.
Playing just his third game since mid-October, Kucherov had a hat trick on Tuesday and led the Lighting to a 6-1 drubbing of the lowly Sabres. The former Hart Trophy winner adds some serious sauce to an offense that already averages 3.32 goals per game (seventh in the league).
Although they’ve been inconsistent of late, the Lightning won three of their last four games. They also combined with their opponents to score seven-plus goals six times in eight contests since returning from the break.
The Canucks have been excellent since Bruce Boudreau took over behind the bench; however, they don’t have the ability to go on massive scoring binges like Tampa Bay. That said, Vancouver combined with opponents to score seven or more goals in each of its last two games, a 5-2 win over the Seattle Kraken, and a 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers.
The one factor that may thwart a seven-goal total is goaltending. Former Vezina Trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy is authoring another excellent season for the Lightning. He has posted a 2.19 GAA and .924 SV% in 29 appearances. Expected Canucks starter Thatcher Demko is thriving under Boudreau. He earned NHL third star honors in December by posting a 7-1 record with a 1.72 GAA and a .946 save percentage. - Smith