It was another winning night with my lone NHL pick as the St. Louis Blues marched into Edmonton – in their second game in as many nights with their backup goaltender in net – and took a 5-2 decision from the hometown Oilers at lovely +128 odds.
The Oilers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in a Connor McDavid tally, however the Blues struck to tie it soon after and the two clubs were tied at one after 20 minutes. However, it was a two-goal second period from the Blues that really turned the game in their favor. After Zack Kassian made it 3-2 midway through the third, there was a little sweat to be had, however the Blues held tough and fended off the Oilers late push before adding a pair of empty-netters to make the game look much more one-sided than it was.
The Oilers outshot the Blues 34-25, but Jake Allen was very good in making 32 saves to earn his second straight victory after a tough start to the season.
Season Record: 13-9
We have a big 11-game NHL schedule tonight and I have four free NHL picks going as a result. This first pick will feature the Canadiens vs. Flyers from the Wells Fargo Center in the City of Brotherly Love!
Canadiens vs. Flyers Betting Odds:
Over 6.5 (-109)
Under 6.5 (-101)
Canadiens vs. Flyers NHL Pick
The Montreal Canadiens are coming off a huge over the arch rival Boston Bruins on Tuesday night, taking a 5-4 decision from the Atlantic Division-leading Bruins and holding them to just 25 shots on goal in the process.
It was Montreal’s fourth win in their last five games and their second consecutive victory on home ice. They’ll head on the road for this one, however, but the Habs have handled themselves just fine away from home with a 4-2-2 record while they most recent won a pair of very difficult road games – in a back-to-back situation no less – over the Arizona Coyotes and Vegas Golden Knights.
After tying the Golden Knights for 13th in total offense last season despite boasting the league’s 30th-ranked power play, it was easy to assume the Canadiens would see their offense improve dramatically if they could get their power play going this season, and that’s exactly what’s happening. The Habs have improved their man advantage to a middle-of-the-pack 16th this season with an even 20% clip, and have seen their offense jump into the league’s top five at fourth with 3.67 goals per game. That number actually trends up a few notches to 3.75 goals per game on the road, also good for fourth.
However, the down side has been their defense both at home and on the road. The Canadiens rank 20th with 3.20 goals against per game this season and have a share of 19th alongside the Chicago Blackhawks with 3.50 goals against per game away from home. The 36.8 shots per game the Habs have allowed on the road is the third-highest mark in the NHL.
The Canadiens are a good possession team overall with their 51.99% Corsi For% at 5v5 ranking eighth in the league, however they slip to 15th with a 49.87% mark on the road. Despite a heavy workload in road games, Carey Price has held Montreal in the game more often than not with a .925 Sv% across five road starts. With no back-to-backs to consider, I would assume Price gets the starting nod in the Canadiens’ crease as he’ll bring a so-so 2.75 GAA and .910 Sv% into action across 12 starts on the season, but his best work has indeed some on the road.
Price could very well be in for another heavy road workload this evening against a FLyers team that sports some seriously overpowering numbers at home this season.
The Flyers sit third in the NHL with 34.5 shots per game on the season, a number that sits at 37.4 at home – also good for third in the league. They’ve made good on those shots as well as their 4.14 goals per game on home ice ranks them second in the league behind only the Vancouver Canucks and their 4.67 mark. The Flyers are are out-shooting teams by an average of 6.1 shots per game and 9.9 shots per game at home – good for the best mark in the NHL.
The Flyers upgraded their blueline this offseason after disastrous results a season ago, and it appears to have worked – at least at home. They rank 19th with 3.14 goals against per game on the season, a number that shrinks all the way to 2.43 at home – good for ninth league wide.
Philly has also been one of the league’s very best possession clubs, posting the league’s third-best Corsi For% at 52.87 at 5v5 play while their increased 55.59% mark at home is the best mark in the NHL, as per Natural Stat Trick.
Getting the nod in goal tonight will be Carter Hart who shrugged off a horrendous five-outing stretch to post a big game in the Flyers’ win over the Hurricanes on Tuesday. Hart posted a .795 Sv% over five outings leading up to Tuesday, but turned aside 33 of 34 Hurricanes shots in earning the 4-1 win on Tuesday. It’s important to note that while he struggled mightily over that time and owns some suspect overall numbers on the season, Hart has been money on home ice to the tune of a 3-1-0 record, 1.76 GAA and .933 Sv% to go along with one shutout across four starts. The 21-year-old is the team’s goaltender of the future and simply lost his confidence, but a return to Wells Fargo was all he needed to get back on track.
While the Canadiens have mostly impressed this season, I think that hard-fought win over the rival Bruins on Tuesday could set them up for a letdown game in this one tonight against a Flyers team that plays with endless confidence on home ice. When they’re going good – and they’re going good at home right now – Wells Fargo can be a tough building for road teams with a raucous Philly faithful supporting the home side.
We know Hart is a very good goaltender given his .917 Sv% in 31 appearances behind one of the league’s worst bluelines last season. I like the fact he’s entering this one riding a ton of confidence after a big performance on Tuesday. While Price is clearly good himself and has been good on the road this season, he’s likely in line to see plenty of rubber for a Habs team that allowed a lot of shots on the road and a Flyers team that puts a ton of pucks on net at home and controls the possession game more than any other NHL team at home.
As a result, I’ll take the home side in this one tonight at reasonable odds.