Whew! Despite nine games with betting odds on the NHL docket for Tuesday, need a pick, shovel and jackhammer to dig down far enough to come up with three potential winners for today.
What has it more difficult is a few inferior or below underdogs are playing rather well against better teams who are in a dull period at the moment and do not jump off the page looking like winners. Nevertheless, with blistered hands and a sore back (figuratively speaking) from all the digging, have three NHL picks worth taking a close look after another sweep yesterday, giving us 11 of 14 winning days.
First place Florida (28-20 SU) is back in the narrow winning path and tries to enter All-Star break on another winning streak. The Panthers won 12 in a row to surge into first place in the Atlantic Division, let one loss become three and in a brutal scheduling spot, lost four straight. With a few days to recoup, Florida took on both Stanley Cup finalists and beat them on home ice in their past two contests.
If you want to understand why the NHL odds have the Panthers at -180 over Toronto (17-29 SU), just consider who they will have in net. Roberto Luongo has been nearly impregnable at 11-2-1, posting a 1.70 goals-against average and .943 save percentage. The wily veteran has won seven straight at home with 1.40 and .951 marks, and against the Maple Leafs, he’s a sterling 13-1-0 with a 2.02 his last 16 starts. With Toronto having not a division game this season (0-11), not likely they uncover one at BB&T Center.
Free Pick – Florida wins
Maybe it was inevitable, but it sure did not seem like it for Ottawa (23-26 SU). After surrendering a nauseating 4.6 goals a contest over six games, the Senators responded to teammate Bobby Ryan’s public outburst, calling out his fellow players and they shutout the New York Rangers at home 3-0 Sunday. Whether that will have a lasting effect will be determined, but usually it is a bonus for Ottawa, who is 8-1 after pitching a shutout the last couple seasons.
Ryan has backed up his bold words with action, with four goals and two assists during a five-game point streak and he has six points in four home games versus Buffalo (19-30 SU). Ottawa won all four of those games against the Sabres and have been victorious in six straight at the Canadien Tire Centre over Buffalo and is 13-1-4 on past 18 encounters.