I had just one free NHL pick going on last night’s small two-game schedule but we hit a winner with my pick between the Maple Leafs and New York Rangers.
I saw great value in the Rangers as home underdogs against a Maple Leafs team that was forced to start backup Michael Hutchinson and his 4.61 GAA and .861 Sv% against a tough offense.
The Maple Leafs opened the scoring, but the Rangers struck back quickly and then scored two goals in six-second span to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission.
The Maple Leafs carried the play in the second and made it 3-2, but Hutchinson made a big gaffe in the Leafs’ net as he fell, lost his stick and was scored on while trying to retrieve it, giving the Rangers the momentum right back.
While the Leafs made it 4-3 late on a power play, the Rangers added an empty-netter and sealed a 5-3 win at nice +120 home underdog odds.
It was nice to get back on the right track after a cold stretch, so let’s look to keep it going on tonight much bigger 12-game schedule!
Season Record: 89-78-1
Now let’s take a look at this Avalanche vs. Senators free NHL pick from the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa!
Avalanche vs. Senators Betting Odds
- Avalanche (-201)
- Senators (+180)
- Avalanche -1.5 (+125)
- Senators +1.5 (-145)
- Over 6.5 (-120)
- Under 6.5 (+109)
Avalanche vs. Senators NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these teams before I get into my final pick!
The Avs shook off a 6-3 loss in Philly to begin their road trip by handing the Buffalo Sabres a 6-1 beatdown on Tuesday, winning for the fourth time over their last five games.
That Avalanche offense has been white-hot in that stretch, tallying at least four goals in all four of those wins while averaging 4.80 goals per game over their last five.
An offensive outburst is nothing new for this team as they’re the NHL’s top offense overall while they rank fourth with 3.48 goals per game on the road this season.
For whatever reason, the Avs have struggled to score on the power play on the road as they sit 26th with a 14.6% mark in that department away from home, but they weren’t afforded a power play opportunity on Tuesday and scored all six goals at even strength.
While the offense is good both at home and on the road, the Avs’ defense is actually much better on the road.
At home, the Avalanche rank 25th with 3.16 goals against per game but they sit fourth with just 2.69 goals against per game on the road while their road penalty kill is tied for 11th with a 79.5% mark on the campaign.
In fact, the Avalanche are the NHL’s best road defense at 5v5 as their 1.89 goals against/60 at 5v5 paces the league.
Their possession numbers aren’t eye-popping on the road, but certainly not too shabby, either.
At 5v5 on the road, the Avs rank ninth with a 50.04% Corsi For%, 10th with an even 50% Scoring Chances For% and 14th with a 48.06% High-Danger Chances For%.
They’ve been able to capitalize on their chances with a third-ranked 10.30% 5v5 shooting rate on the road and have been able to prevent goals thanks to a top-ranked .940 Sv% at 5v5 away from home.
We aren’t sure yet who will get the start for the Avs in this one tonight, but either way they should be in good hands between the pipes tonight.
If Philipp Grubauer gets the start as he’s done in their last two games, he would bring a 2.84 GAA and .909 Sv% into action across 31 starts on the season, but also a 2.80 GAA and .912 Sv% on the road across 16 starts.
Grubauer is coming off that 6-1 win on Tuesday in which he allowed just one goal on 24 shots (.958 Sv%).
If it’s Pavel Francouz, he will bring a 2.45 GAA and .924 Sv% into action, but he’s been outstanding on the road to the tune of a 1.82 GAA and .947 Sv% across eight starts and nine appearances.
He last appeared in goal prior to the All-Star break when he allowed three goals on 25 shots in a 6-3 win over the Red Wings at home, but owns a .961 Sv% over five road appearances since the beginning of December.
The Sens took the Ducks to overtime their last time out, but failed to secure the win and have now dropped 13 of their last 15 games entering this one tonight.
Once a stellar home team earlier in the year, the Senators’ work at home has come down several notches as they have lost plenty of shot share and scoring chance share at home over the last several weeks.
Over their last five games at home, the Senators have averaged 40.4 shots against per game, making things extremely difficult on their goaltenders.
They’ve also struggled to put the puck in the net at home of late.
After managing just two goals against a poor Ducks road defense on Tuesday, the Senators have averaged just 2.71 goals per game at home and have scored two goals or fewer in four of those seven contests.
On the season, they have slipped to 18th with 3.07 goals per game at home where their power play sits 26th with a 16.9% mark.
However, that power play has been dynamite of late as they scored both of their goals on Tuesday on the man advantage and have produced a deadly 40.9% clip over their last seven games and a 46.7% mark over their last four.
The back end has been where they have slipped the most.
After sitting in or near the top 10 in home defense not too long ago, the Senators are now tied for 16th with 2.93 goals against per game at home, although their strong 83.5% mark on the penalty kill at home checks in at 10th.
Possession-wise, they’ve been decimated of late.
At 5v5 at home, the Senators rank 27th with a 47.59% Corsi For%, 25th with a 49.08 Scoring Chances For% but still sit 14th with a 53.32% High-Danger Chances For%.
Over their last six games at home, however, the Sens own a much worse 42.91% Corsi For%, 42.76% Scoring Chances For% and 49.09% High-Danger Chances For%.
They have received good goaltending at home this season, although once again we aren’t sure of who will get the starting nod tonight.
If it’s Craig Anderson, he will bring a 3.19 GAA and .901 Sv% into action, but also a much-improved 2.87 GAA and .912 Sv% at home in 10 outings.
Anderson has also been very good of late, turning in a .939 Sv% over his last two starts, allowing just two goals in each of those outings.
If it’s Marcus Hogberg, he will carry a 2.90 GAA and .912 Sv% across 14 NHL appearances this season into action, but also a 2.88 GAA and .917 Sv% at home in eight starts.
Hogberg was good in turning aside 26 of 28 shots in the shootout loss on Tuesday, his first start of February after posting a real nice 2.61 GAA and .924 Sv% across seven January appearances.
Despite getting some quality goaltending of late, the Senators continue to lose games due to a lack of offense and the fact the the sheer shot volume allowed has resulted in goals against.
If the goaltending can’t hold up its end of the bargain tonight, they are going to be in deep trouble.
This Avalanche offense is deadly and they’re cruising right now.
Colorado scored six goals on Tuesday, but the scariest thing about that is that Nathan MacKinnon’s line was responsible for just one of those tallies.
Furthermore, MacKinnon himself has been involved in just one of the Avs’ last nine goals. This guy is an MVP candidate and sits fourth in the NHL with 73 points.
In other words, he’s going to bust out of his mini-slump ASAP and I feel like that onslaught could take place in this one tonight.
Not to knock on Anderson and Hogberg who have both been very good of late, but they aren’t top-tier goaltenders and a letdown is on the horizon to be sure.
This Avs offense is a good candidate to deliver such a letdown, and combined with their fourth-ranked defense on the road, I think they could be in for another lopsided road win tonight.
As a result, I’ll take the streaking Avalanche to win this one on the puckline tonight.