Last night was the kind of night I have been waiting for. I went 3-0 with my free NHL picks and get back into very comfortable profit territory on the season.
The first win wasn’t even close from the get-go. The Buffalo Sabres put five goals on the board in the first period against the visiting New Jersey Devils and never looked back in a 7-1 win at -118 odds.
The next win was much closer and came down to the wire. I took the under 5.5 between the New York Islanders and hometown Detroit Red Wings, and it was going to be a close one with a 3-1 score after two periods. However, much of the third period went by before the Islanders scored to make it 4-1 with less than eight minutes to go, putting the pick in danger. However, that’s how the game ended and we hit the under at nice +101 odds.
My final winner of the night came between the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks from the Windy City. Much like the first winner in Buffalo, this one wasn’t really close as the Blues jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead and didn’t look back in what ended up being a 4-0 road win at -125 odds over a depleted Blackhawks lineup.
It was a wonderful night and I’ll look to build on that performance on tonight’s 10-game NHL schedule!
Season Record: 35-29-1
Now let’s take a look at this free NHL pick featuring the Maple Leafs vs. Flyers from the City of Brotherly Love.
Maple Leafs vs. Flyers Betting Odds
- Maple Leafs (-117)
- Flyers (+106)
- Maple Leafs -1.5 (+200)
- Flyers +1.5 (-240)
- Over 6 (-101)
- Under 6 (-109)
Maple Leafs vs. Flyers NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these clubs before getting into my final pick!
The Maple Leafs continued their surge under new head coach Sheldon Keefe on Saturday with a 2-1 overtime win on home ice over the Sabres, and while they dropped the first of the back-to-back set with Buffalo over the weekend, they are now 4-1-0 under their new bench boss.
Their offense was quieted for the first time since he took over, however, despite putting 43 shots on goal in the OT win. Prior to that contest, the Maple Leafs averaged 4.50 goals per game in the previous four games under Keefe as his philosophy of increased puck possession while allowing his skill players to flash that skill appears to be working.
Keefe also switched up the Maple Leafs’ power play units and the results have been encouraging thus far. While they continue to receive minimal power play opportunities (more than two in just two of their last 10 games), the Maple Leafs have gone 3 for 8 (37.5%) on the man advantage under Keefe after sitting under 18% prior to his hiring.
The Maple Leafs will enter this one ranked eighth with 3.29 goals per game on the season, but more importantly for this one they are tied for third with 3.43 goals per game on the road and those 4.50 goals per game under Keefe in his first four games behind the bench all came on the road.
Their advanced numbers on the road would seem to support such production. The Maple Leafs rank second with a 54.35% Corsi For% at 5v5 play on the road while their 53.71% scoring chances for percentage (SCF%) on the road also checks in at second. Finally, they’re also winning the high-danger scoring chance battle away from home with a mark of 51.50% (HDCF%), good for sixth in the NHL.
While the rejuvenation of a high-octane has been a positive for the team, the story in Saturday’s win was goaltender Frederik Andersen.
Andersen made a handful of point-blank saves on the Sabres to keep the Maple Leafs in it and has been one of, if not the best goaltender in the NHL of late.
Andersen just completed a month of November in which he posted a stout 1.97 GAA and .938 Sv% across 11 starts. He owns a .959 Sv% over his last four outings – including a shutout – while allowing one goal or less in three of those four outings. Finally, Andersen has been a beast on the road all season long where he’s posted a 2.12 GAA and .933 Sv% across eight outings.
The Leafs are a tough out when Andersen is on his game.
The Flyers continued their winning ways on home ice over the weekend with a 6-1 thrashing of the visiting Red Wings before hitting the road for a 4-3 OT win in Montreal. The two weekend wins gave them four straight wins and five over their last six games.
The surging Flyers have lost just once in regulation on home ice, but also four more times in extra time, including a shootout loss to these Maple Leafs back on November 2nd. Overall, they’re 8-1-4 at home.
Like the Maple Leafs, the Flyers sport some quality advanced numbers in this situation.
Their 53.83% Corsi For% at 5v5 at home ranks fifth in the league, their 56.39% SCF% at home at 5v5 ranks fourth and their 57.29% HDCF% at 5v5 at home ranks seventh. They also own a +8.3 average shot differential at home as well. As a result, it’s not hard to see why they’ve managed at least one points in 12 of 13 home contests this season.
Of course, they’ve been excellent at both ends of the ice at home. Their 3.54 goals per game at home ranks 11th in the league and their stout 2.08 goals against per game at home checks in at third. A big reason for the latter has been the play of young goaltender Carter Hart who gets the nod for this one tonight.
Hart enters this one sporting an eye-popping 1.54 GAA and .942 S% on home ice this season, a huge improvement over his god-awful 3.78 GAA and .849 Sv% on the road. However, I believe it’s safe to say that those splits will narrow as the season moves along. He’s due to regress some at home while those road numbers are sure to improve moving forward.
That said, Hart, like Andersen, has been excellent in this split this season and his .948 Sv% over his last three outings stacks up well with Andersen’s excellent work of late.
What to do when you have two teams playing very well in their respective home/road split for this matchup tonight while both goaltenders have been very good?
I don’t mind the under 6.5 much at all given the work of the goaltenders of late, however I see regression on both Hart and the Flyers’ home defensive numbers, and that’s what I think could be exposed tonight.
As a result, I like the Maple Leafs here.
There’s little doubt that the Flyers do hold some value as home underdogs given how well they’ve played at home, but this Maple Leafs team is playing much closer to their ceiling these days than they were when they won a road game in Philly in early November.
Andersen has been lights out, the offense is once again clicking and both their power play and penalty kill (85.7% under Keefe) have improved dramatically of late.
As a result, I’m going to take the road side in what should be a very good hockey game tonight from the Wells Fargo Center.