One week from today, hockey’s regular season concludes, but before then some betting odds have to be looked over and field of 16 has to be finalized for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
On this Sunday, all five contests on the big board will have some bearing on the postseason. We are not going write about Boston and Chicago because of its early start, (though we prefer the Blackhawks) and that Keystone State conflict with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh is a tough one because both teams are really playing well.
Thus, we will focus our attention to the other trio of tilts for NHL picks and offer up our selections versus the NHL odds in order of preference.
The game between Dallas (48-31 SU) and Anaheim (43-34 SU) is your classic confrontation with high stakes and more for both clubs. The Stars, winners of seven of eight and four in a row, can all but wrap up the best record in the Western Conference with a victory. Dallas has been the top scoring team in the NHL since November.
With Dallas defeating Los Angeles yesterday, the Ducks with a victory reclaim first place in the Pacific Division with each team having four games remaining. The race for who will be the best defensive team in the sport is incredibly tight and Anaheim is third right now at 2.34, with Washington first at 2.31 goals allowed.
This sets up like boxing matchup based on strengths and we are taking Anaheim at -150 for a few reasons. The most obvious is defensive prowess and recent 5-2 home record over Dallas (includes playoffs). Though this is meaningful contest, have to wonder about Stars energy level and they are 1-7 in road games playing their third time in four days this season. Finally, the Ducks are 12-2 against teams averaging three more shots on goal than opponents in the second half of season the last two seasons.
Free Pick – Anaheim wins
St. Louis trails Dallas by only four points for the best record in the West, but seems content to settle for second place and rest players before the playoffs commence. At least that is how Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is acting, resting at least four players today.
Colorado’s path to the postseason has narrowed considerably after losses to St. Louis and Washington and realistically the only way in is miracle 4-0 finish and Minnesota dropping three remaining games in regulation, trailing by five points.