I was cooled off a little bit with last night’s free NHL picks as I split my four picks 2-2, however it was a dead-even nights in terms of units won/loss as well.
I’ll start with my picks that didn’t hit first.
The Boston Bruins and L.A. Kings got together from the TD Garden in Boston and it was clear early that this was going to be a competitive game. The Kings came to play and the Bruins failed to build off their stellar effort on Saturday. While the Bruins held a 3-2 third period lead and gave our puckline pick a chance, the Kings tied it late and even went on to win it in OT for a massive road upset.
Our second loser of the night wasn’t even close between the Hurricanes and Jets. The Jets’ home defense failed to show up, as did their white-hot home offense in a 6-3 drubbing at the hands of the Canes and we were unable to cash in with the home underdogs.
However, the night got better.
The Flyers didn’t have too much trouble in taking down the visiting Ducks as they build a 2-0 lead and while the lead was cut to 2-1, a third-period insurance marker and an empty-netter sealed us the moneyline pick at -135 odds.
Finally, the Canadiens and Canucks got together from Vancouver and the game went pretty much as expected. I liked Carey Price to stay red-hot and silence a cold Vancouver home offense and that’s what happened. The Canucks scored just one goal for the third straight home game and the Canadiens scored three themselves and the under 6 hit with ease in a 3-1 Habs win.
No harm, no foul on last night’s big schedule as I turn my attention to tonight’s three-game NHL schedule!
Season Record: 56-45-1
Now let’s take a look at this free NHL pick featuring the Ducks vs. Devils from the Prudential Center in New Jersey!
Ducks vs. Devils Betting Odds
- Ducks (+104)
- Devils (-115)
- Ducks +1.5 (-255)
- Devils -1.5 (+215)
- Over 5.5 (-101)
- Under 5.5 (-109)
Ducks vs. Devils NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these clubs before getting into my final pick!
It’s right back at it tonight for the Ducks after taking that aforementioned 4-1 loss last night in Philly
The loss was their second over their last three games and their fourth over their last six as they continue to slide down the Western Conference standings.
While their road defense isn’t too shabby at 17th with 3.25 goals per game, they continue to struggle to generate offense on the road and managed just a single goal in last night’s loss.
The Ducks enter this one ranked 28th with just 2.31 goals per game on the road this season where their power play checks in at a share of 24th with a poor 14% clip on the season.
Now, that power play is actually hot at the moment as their lone goal came on the man advantage last night and the Ducks have scored a power play in each of their last four games with a 33.3% clip in that time (5 for 15).
They killed off both of their penalties last night against a quality Flyers home power play, but the Ducks still rank 26th with a 74.5% mark on the penalty kill away from home.
After John Gibson took the loss in Philly last night, I would be shocked if we didn’t see Ryan Miller in net for the road side in this one.
Miller would enter this one sporting a 3.00 GAA and .908 SV% on the season across eight starts and nine appearances, however Miller’s numbers fall to a 3.30 GAA and .892 Sv% across three starts and four appearances on the road this season.
The 39-year-old finished his month of November with an .841 Sv% over his last two starts to the month, but has posted a 2.54 GAA and .931 Sv% across two December outings, although both of those came on home ice while he was blasted for six goals on just 27 shots in Tampa Bay in his last road outing.
Tonight will mark the Devils’ first game since Taylor Hall was dealt away to the Arizona Coyotes, although Hall was sat out for for their final two games of the recently-completed four-game road trip.
To be honest, the Devils fared quite well without their star forward in those outings.
The first was a 3-1 loss in Colorado against arguably the best team in the NHL at the moment. It was actually a 2-1 game into the final minute of the third before an empty-netter sealed Colorado’s win.
They faced an extremely difficult back-to-back having to go into Arizona the next night to take on the surging Coyotes. The Devils stunned the home side, however, winning that one by a 2-1 score while they narrowly outshot both the Avs and ‘Yotes in those games.
That’s impressive stuff for a team that was in full free-fall as they entered Arizona riding a seven-game losing skid.
There’s little doubt the offense is still cold, however.
They faced a pair of the league’s best defenses in Dallas and Arizona on that trip, and scored just two goals in those two games while adding a single marker against the Avs. All told, they have just three goals over their last three games and scored seven in the four-game trip thanks to a four-goal showing to begin the trip in Nashville last Saturday.
However, it’s the defense and goaltending that’s certainly impressed.
The Devils allowed just seven goals over their last three games (2.33 per game) while tonight’s starter – Mackenzie Blackwood – has been lights-out of late.
Blackwood will enter tonight’s contest sporting a 2.85 GAA and a .908 Sv% on the season – not terrible numbers considering the team playing in front of him has largely struggled.
However, Blackwood has been stellar lately, posting a 1.93 GAA and .938 Sv% across four starts and six appearances in the month of December.
Furthermore, he has managed a .965 Sv% over his last four appearances and three starts and was brilliant in his most recent home start in turning aside 28 of 29 Blackhawks shots in a tough-luck 2-1 shootout loss.
Blackwood has been excellent of late but wins continue to avoid him thanks to a lack of goal support from his teammates.
That said, while the Devils average a league-worst 1.94 goals per game on the road, their 2.81 goals per game at home – while ranked 26th – still amounts to an almost full goal’s improvement on home ice.
It’s not a great number, but it markedly better than the Ducks’ 2.31 goals per game on the road.
Despite a 28th-ranked home defense, the Devils actually rank fourth with just 27.3 shots against per game at home and it’s been their .878 Sv% at home that’s killed them.
That’s where I think the red-hot Blackwood can help them to a victory tonight.
He’s coming off an excellent road trip, his 2.69 GAA at home is solid and he’s facing one of the worst road offenses and road power plays in the league.
The Devils showed a ton of compete and fight without Hall in the lineup, and while some are painting doom and gloom without him moving forward, their two best efforts of late have come without him.
In a battle of some weak clubs, I like the home side here based on goaltending and a renewed effort after a lengthy losing streak against a weak road offense that’s playing their second game in as many nights.