There are plenty of intriguing matchups tonight around the NHL. Read on for our NHL Expert picks.
Our hockey experts highlight their top against the spread, moneyline, and Over/Under selections for Friday’s NHL matchups (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook, and Caesars; pick confidence is based on a 1-to-5-star scale).
Friday’s Top NHL Expert Picks
SEE ALSO: Wild vs. Sabres Picks
Top NHL Expert ML/ATS Picks
Red Wings +1.5 (-110 via DraftKings)
Although the Detroit Red Wings have had some erratic play at times — which can be expected from a young and developing team — the Red Wings have covered the puck line in seven straight games against the Lightning and in six of their past eight road games.
The Lightning have the best points percentage in the Atlantic Division but they sometimes do just enough to win so they are covering the puck line just 43.4% of the time. They will be playing their second game in as many nights so they should have backup goaltender Brian Elliott in net. That should help make this a more even contest. Maybe not enough to like the Red Wings to win, but enough for them to cover the puck line again. - Cullen
New York Rangers (-165 via DraftKings)
These Devils-Rangers games have become quite one-sided recently. New York has won each of the last seven meetings overall and nine of the last 14 at Madison Square Garden. That lines up with this season. The Rangers beat the Devils 4-3 in a shootout on Nov. 14 in New York. The Blueshirts are currently 18-5-3 at home while the Devils are 8-17-2 on the road.
The Rangers have been carried this season by great goaltending, which is a familiar storyline over the past decade. Vezina Trophy frontrunner Igor Shesterkin is 25-6-3 with a .940 save percentage and 1.98 goals-against average this season. On the other hand, the Devils have gone through a bevy of goaltenders this season. As a team, they have a second-worst save percentage in the league this season at .885. It could be Jon Gillies (3-9-1, .887 SV%, 3.70 GAA) or Nico Daws (3-2-0, .909 SV%, 2.79 GAA). Either way, the Rangers have the leg up in net and should continue their home dominance this season. - Gilbert
Penguins (+115 via DraftKings)
In a matchup between the two top teams in the Metropolitan Division, the Penguins are catching the Hurricanes at the perfect time. Although both teams are playing the second half of a back-to-back, the Hurricanes are playing their third game in four nights, so fatigue might become a factor. The Penguins are also the slightly hotter team, posting an impressive 7-3 record over their past 10 games, though Carolina isn’t much worse at 6-2-2.
Both teams have excellent underlying numbers, ranking in the top eight in Corsi for percentage at 5v5 and both will likely be deploying their backup goaltenders. Casey DeSmith doesn’t have eye-popping numbers for the Penguins, posting a 2.99 GAA and .903 SV% in 14 appearances. He did have a strong showing in his last start, though, stopping 32 pucks in a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Hurricanes are expected to counter with Antti Raanta between the pipes. Raanta sports a 2.55 GAA and .908 save percentage in 14 games.
In a clash between two Eastern Conference elites, I have to back the slightly fresher team, especially at plus money. - Smith
Top NHL Expert O/U Picks
Kings-Blue Jackets Over 6.5 (-115 via Caesars)
As the Long Angeles Kings have surged in the standings, they have reached a total of seven goals or more in nine of their past 11 games. The goaltending tandem of Jonathan Quick and Cal Petersen has struggled to a .882 save percentage since the schedule pause, resulting in higher scoring games. The Kings average a total of 6.26 goals per 60 since returning from the December schedule pause.
While the Columbus Blue Jackets are still a long way out of a playoff spot, they have been competitive, in part because sniper Patrik Laine is on a hot streak, scoring 14 goals in his past 13 games, and the Blue Jackets have hit a total of seven goals or more in 11 of their past 14 games. Since the schedule pause, the Blue Jackets have allowed 3.87 goals per 60 minutes in all situations, the second-highest rate in the league, contributing to an average total of 7.20 goals per 60 minutes since the pause. Columbus is also dealing with injuries on the blueline, including Zach Werenski, Jake Bean, and Adam Boqvist, and that depleted defense corps only makes a higher total more appealing.
Two teams with improving offensive results and suspect goaltending is a prime pick for the Over. - Cullen
Red Wings-Lightning Over 6.5 (-110 via DraftKings)
The Lightning are on the second half of a back-to-back, meaning that Brian Elliott should get the start in net. The veteran is a fine backup at this point in his career, but he can't exactly be relied upon. He's 5-2-2 with a .902 SV% and 2.62 GAA this season.
The Lightning have the offense to back that up, though. Tampa Bay averages 3.42 goals this season with Detroit allowing 3.57 goals per contest. The Wings have been playing a lot of high-scoring games recently, averaging 3.8 goals for and 4.5 goals against per game over their last 10. That resulted in the Over hitting in three straight, seven of their last eight, and eight of 10.
The Lightning have played well in the second half of back-to-backs this season, going 5-0-1 with the Over hitting in all six games. Elliott should allow a few and the Lightning should score a few for an easy Over. - Gilbert
Wild-Sabres Over 6.5 (-105 via DraftKings)
A game against the Sabres might be the cure to what ails the Wild.
Minnesota has lost four of their past five and has fallen toward the middle of the pack in the Central Division. Luckily for the Wild, Buffalo is downright putrid. The Sabres have lost six of their past seven, and are actively battling with the Canadiens to see who gets to live in the Atlantic Division basement.
The Wild are the third highest-scoring team in the NHL with 3.69 goals per game. When you couple this with their recent inability to keep the puck out of their own net, we could see a crooked number on the scoreboard. Minnesota has combined with their opponents to score seven or more goals seven times in their past 10 games. Buffalo, for their part, has combined with their opponents to score seven or more goals six times during that same stretch.
This game has 5-3 written all over it. - Smith
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