DECEMBER OF THE PENGUINS
The Metropolitan Division is possibly the most competitive in the league. The Pittsburgh Penguins are 15-9-2 but still sit in fourth place. The Pens are staying in the thick of the race thanks in part to the Eastern Conferences second-best goal differential at home (+20) and only trail the Boston Bruins for most points on home ice.
The Crosby-less Penguins (3-2 SU, 3-2 O/U last five) come into Friday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes (3-2 SU, 3-2 O/U last five) winners of their last four and most recently blanked the Cup champs 3-0 on Wednesday. Pittsburgh has taken 17 of a possible 19 points at home since October 29 and have also won five of the last six games versus Arizona including the last five contests in Pittsburgh.
Take the Pens’ 3-way ML for this Friday night matchup.
MATINEE MONEY MAKING
The Vancouver Canucks are 7-4-1 O/U at home this year and have hit the Over in eight of their last 11 games. Since November 15, the Canucks (2-3 SU, 3-2 O/U last five) sit seventh in expected goals for and 28th in expected goals against. Add that up and you get a team that has the second-most goals per game behind the porous Montreal Canadiens.
The Buffalo Sabres (2-3 SU, 3-2 O/U last five) will continue their West Coast road trip on Saturday in Vancouver as they play the second game of a three-game road trip in four nights. The Sabres are 4-2 O/U in their last six as Buffalo’s penalty kill has been near the bottom of the league for the entirety of the season.
Editor's Note: Drafting is only half the battle. Dominate all season long with our Season Pass! Use our NEW Lineup Adviser, get our Weekly and Rest-of-Season rankings and projections, track all of your players and more on your way to a championship! Click here for more!
With the Canucks scoring on 33 percent of their power plays since November 15, we are expecting some lamplighters on Saturday’s 4:00 p.m. afternoon game (1:00 p.m. in Vancouver). We will take the Over at 6.5 and hammer it if it opens at 6.
BIG DOGS BITE
Moving to Saturday night, the Los Angeles Kings (2-3 SU, 1-4 O/U last five) will take their nine-game road losing streak (as of Friday) to Calgary (4-1 SU, 2-3 O/U last five) in what will be the backend of a traveling back-to-back. L.A. has not scored more than two goals in any of its nine consecutive away losses.
Special teams are also killing the last-place Kings as they have the fourth-worst power play since Halloween and are burying their scoring chances at a 12 percent rate which is also fourth-worst.
The Flames are 0-9-1 O/U in their last 10 as only the Detroit Red Wings have scored fewer goals since November 1. With two of the lowest-scoring teams, we are taking the plunge on the Under 5.5 while also taking the Under 2.5 on the Kings’ team total. We wouldn’t call you crazy either for sprinkling a little on the Kings’ ML as the price will tempting.
SLEEPY SUNDAY SHOWDOWN
It has been tough sledding for the Winnipeg Jets’ opponents of late as the Jets are conceding just 2.2 goals against in their last 10 and 1.4 goals in their last five. On top of that, the Jets have taken 15 of a possible 20 points in their last ten and are just six points out of the top spot in the West.
The Anaheim Ducks (2-3 SU, 3-2 O/U) will play Friday night at home and then make the trip north for their Sunday matinee against the Jets (3-2 O/U, 1-4 O/U last five). The Ducks’ offense hasn’t been generating many scoring chances as they have the sixth-fewest since November 15. Honestly, don’t expect many quality chances in this game with both teams sitting in last and second-last place in shots for and both in the Top-10 in shots against over the last three weeks.
We like the Jets to keep their opponents in check Sunday and are taking the Ducks’ team total Under 2.5 as well as the game total Under 5.5.
GOALIE PROFILE: Carter Hart, PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
It has been anything but a consistent season for the Flyers’ young goalie this year. Carter won his first two starts of the year, then dropped his next four, then won four straight, then lost four in a row and how he is riding a three-game winning streak. We might be able to jump on the netminder for one more victory before his system switches to losing mode.
The Flyers dropped their first game in regulation in eight games with Brian Elliott in net, meaning the Flyers management will most likely switch over to Hart for the team’s Saturday 1:00 p.m. home tilt against one of the East’s worst road teams, the Ottawa Senators.
With Hart staying hot and carrying a 1.44 goals against in afternoon games over his short career, we have no problem taking the plus-money puck line (-1.5) even in the uncommon world of early games. The Senators are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 road losses while the Flyers are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 home wins.
INJURY UPDATE: F Mitch Marner, TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
The $10.9 million man has returned to the Leafs’ lineup and saw plenty of ice time with Auston Matthews on Wednesday versus the Avalanche. The young winger looked rusty in his return which didn’t do much to spark a struggling Leaf’s offense even though the team had 26 scoring chances on 39 shots but went 1-for-12 in high danger shooting.
Things will turn around for the Leafs as they are dealing with some tough puck luck. Toronto has the second-most scoring chances for over the last 30 days but are scoring on just 11 percent of those chances (regular shots have an average of about a 8-12-percent chance of scoring).
Maybe with Marner back and a game under his belt, it will help the Leafs capitalize as they are getting great chances — third in high-danger chances for — but just not finishing. The Leafs head out on a four-game, out-of-conference road trip with a stop in St. Louis on Saturday night. The money line is hard to swallow with the Leafs’ poor special teams play of late but perhaps they get their scoring touch back against an unlikely opponent.
HAT TRICK TRENDS
• The Detroit Red Wings continue to lose, stretching their streak to double digits. Detroit is 0-6 ATS in its last six and 5-12 ATS since November. The Wings will face a hot Penguins team at home on Saturday and a puck line bet or alternative puck line may be in order.
• If you have been paying attention to totals and first-period totals, then maybe you have noticed that we are at the stretch of the year where the Unders are the majority. Looking at all 31 teams and their last 10 games, only four teams are hitting first-period Overs at 70 percent or better and 20 teams are hitting the Over 1.5 at 50 percent or worse. Looking at full-game totals, the Unders hit at 51 percent last week and 54 percent over the last month.
• The Winnipeg Jets are the most profitable team this year. Winnipeg is 17-11 SU and would have returned bettors $922 at $100 per game. The Jets’ only game this weekend is Sunday versus the Anaheim Ducks.