It is back to work against the betting odds on the ice and we have a plethora of games to consider for today with an even dozen. However, many of the matchups should be closely contested.
This is why in spite of the depth of choices, this will not be as simple as it appears. Plus, we have the additional aspect of every team being off for an extended period and like in the NBA and MLB, not every team comes back with the same level of precision and alertness and may struggle and there is no formula to determine on how clubs and individual players will perform against the NHL odds.
Here are today’s NHL picks and they are in order of preference starting the best first, looking to continue strong showing with 12 winning days in past 16.
This has been an arduous journey for the Pittsburgh Penguins (24-24 SU), but the hard work is starting to pay off. Pittsburgh won their last three games before the All-Star break and that moved them into the No.8 slot in the Eastern Conference and given this still seemingly fragile team the hope and belief they can keep building on this.
Though the Penguins still have 34 regular season games remaining, they understand where they are, “Our playoffs basically start now,” captain Sidney Crosby said. In winning four of their last five, Pittsburgh showed more urgency and energy over any five-game stretch since late October into November when they won six straight. They will face Ottawa (23-27 SU), who has been laboring for some time, losers of nine of 14. Despite having an offense that ranks ninth in scoring at 2.70, the Senators cannot stop the puck and are 29th in goals allowed at 3.02.
Pittsburgh is a -175 money line home favorite and with Ottawa 24th in shot attempts (28.4 per game) and dead last in shots permitted (33.1), the Pens are 17-1 against opponents who a negative shot differential of three or more.
Free Pick – Pittsburgh wins
Colorado (27-25 SU) finished the first half 5-1 and have taken four of the last six against Chicago (33-20 SU). The defending Stanley Cup champions have the most points in the Western Conference, yet have top heavy tendencies. The Blackhawks are 21-5-1 at the United Center, but are merely 12-14 SU on the road. Nobody can argue the brilliance of Patrick Kane this season, leading in points with 73, which is 15 ahead of second place Jamie Benn at 58. Maybe this is nothing, but shutdown Kane and chances of beating Chicago increases dramatically since they the largest gap of No. 1 vs. No.2 scorers (Artemi Panarin -48 points) at 34.3 percent.