Nights like last night make the betting game a lot less fun that it should be. I had the Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets to go OVER the 5.5 total and all night long it looked as if we were going to fly over that total and bag ourselves an easy winner. It’s never a good idea to put a checkmark beside a bet that has not yet been completed, but man oh man was this one hard to swallow. The Blue Jackets did all the scoring in this one, leading 3-0 after the first period and 5-0 after the second, putting us in a very enviable position heading in to the third and final frame. Of course, the third period produced zero goals and we well short of the 5.5 goal total. Toronto was absolutely brutal on this night like they usually are on the road and it’s unfortunate that they couldn’t net us a single goal against a team that gives up over three per game on average. Extremely disappointing loss and probably one of the worst I have endured all season. However, the good thing about sports is there is immediate opportunity to redeem yourself and that is exactly what I will do today with 11 games on the board.
New Jersey Devils @ Tampa Bay Lightning
My Pick – OVER 5 (-115)
The Tampa Bay Lightning and New Jersey Devils will complete their three-game season series tonight in the sunny south as the Devils looks to secure a season sweep of the playoff-bound Lightning. New Jersey won the previous two meetings this season each by a single goal as they look to give backup goalie Keith Kinkaid a chance against the NHL’s best offense. The bad news for Kinkaid and the Devils tonight is Steven Stamkos is coming off of a two-goal game on Saturday night that broke a seven-game scoreless streak for the league’s second highest scorer. Stamkos’ 42 goals on the season trails only Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead and he broke his longest goal-scoring slump since 2009. The Lightning score a league-high 3.16 goals per game thanks to the mass amount of depth this team carries. Tampa Bay has ten players with at least ten goals this season while icing four skaters who have more than 20. Aside from Stamkos, a lot of the damage this team does comes from their second line who are more productive than the majority of team’s first lines. The trio of Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, and Nikita Kucherov have combined for 71 goals this season and rating of +100 on the year. Victor Hedman returns to tonight’s lineup for the Lightning and his ten goals from the blueline should help contribute to this pick. The New Jersey powerplay should as well as they actually boast a powerplay that is more efficient than that of the Lightning with a 19.2% clip which is good for 10th in the league. Tampa Bay is going to score some goals tonight and I believe the Devils could have some success in that category too. Take the OVER 5 tonight with the best scoring team in the league playing on home ice where they have lost just eight times in 39 games.
Carolina Hurricanes @ Philadelphia Flyers
My Pick – FLYERS (-130)
The Philadelphia Flyers will play host to the Carolina Hurricanes tonight to end a five-game season series between the two clubs. After a 5-1 Philadelphia victory at the Wells Fargo Center on December 13th, the Hurricanes have rattled off three consecutive wins over the Flyers, but all of those came at PNC Arena in Raleigh. The Flyers are a dangerous home team as they have averaged 4.4 goals per game over a 4-0-1 stretch on home ice and it’s no coincidence they pounded the hurricanes in their only visit to Philly this season. The Flyers are riding a seven-game point streak entering tonight’s contest as they have gone 4-0-3 in that span while beating teams like the Blackhawks, Penguins, and most recently the Islanders in the process. They have scored at least one powerplay goal over those seven games, going 9 for 23, or 39% with the man advantage. The Flyers have one of the league’s best powerplays with a 23.8% clip, good for 3rd spot in the league. The Hurricanes do have a very strong penalty kill but even if they are able the stifle the impressive Flyers powerplay, they will still have to score goals at the other end, something that have struggled to do especially on the road. The Canes have lost five straight road games in regulation and have tallied just 11 non-shootout goals over their last six games which comes out at 1.8 per game. They will need to score at least twice that if they plan on winning tonight against a Philly team who is red-hot at the moment. My money says they don’t, and it also says the Flyers win this one and remain one of the NHL’s hottest teams.