I split by free NHL picks last night 2-2 and took a minuscule loss in terms of units, but man were we set up for a big night before dropping a couple of OT heartbreakers.
The best pick of the night – by far – was the Maple Leafs as +165 road underdogs against a deadly Tampa Bay Lightning home team and a team that’s been the best in the league for some time.
The Lightning opened the scoring and right away our pick looked shaky at best, but the Maple Leafs rallied to score four of the next five goals to take a 4-2 lead into the third. The Lightning cut their deficit in half about midway through the period, but the Maple Leafs held tough despite losing defenseman Jake Muzzin for the third and got out of Tampa with a 4-3 victory.
At about the same time, I had the Flyers at +105 on the puckline to beat the visiting Sharks by at least two goals on home ice.
The score sat 1-1 after one, but the Flyers scored three straight goals before the Sharks cut the lead to 4-2 in the third. That said, there would be no more goal-scoring a the 4-2 final gave us another winner and a +2.70-unit profit through two concluded picks.
However, it was downhill from there.
I had the Islanders as -133 home favorites over the visiting Rangers, and that game stood 3-3 and headed for overtime.
A broken down breakaway attempt by Artemi Panarin turned into a puck sitting on a tee in the hight slot for Mika Zibanejad who peppered home the winner on the blocker side of Semyon Varlamov to cut into our profit with a 1.33-unit loss there.
However, it appeared we were still in good shape with the Oilers as notable -145 favorites to take care of the lowly Ducks in Anaheim.
However, the pick looked bad from the get-go as the Ducks took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. While the Oilers tied the game at two early in the third and again had to tie it at three late in the third, this game also headed for extra time.
If we get the OT win here we net a 2.37-unit profit on the night, but if the Ducks score we take a small 0.08-unit loss. Of course, Sonny Milano scored his second of the night in his Ducks debut and the underdogs wins above were all for naught as we ended up with a tiny loss on the night despite hitting a +165 road dog.
Extremely disappointing to lose both overtime games as we only needed to win one of the two in order to notch a real nice profit on the night.
That’s just how things have been going lately, and I’ll move forward by taking on tonight’s three-game NHL schedule!
Season Record: 103-90-1
Now let’s dive into this free NHL pick featuring the Oilers vs. Golden Knights from T-Mobile Arena in Vegas!
Oilers vs. Golden Knights Betting Odds
- Oilers (+193)
- Golden Knights (-215)
- Oilers +1.5 (-133)
- Golden Knights -1.5 (+113)
- Over 6.5 (-105)
- Under 6.5 (-105)
Oilers vs. Golden Knights NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s check in with each of these teams before I get into my final pick!
It was indeed a tough loss for the Oilers despite them getting an important point in the standings as that’s a game they need be winning against a weak Ducks team that had dropped four in a row entering that one.
They’ve actually played well on the road this season, however, where they’re now 18-12-3 on the season, a record superior to their 15-10-5 mark on home ice.
In fact, a good chunk of their numbers are superior on the road versus at home.
The offense is not included, but the Oilers still sit in a tie for 14th with a solid 3.00 goals per game on the road this season, although their power play is tied for the league lead on the road with a 26.7% clip, alongside the Montreal Canadiens.
That power play has scored in four of their last five games and went 1 for 3 in last night’s loss.
The offense did get some contributions from their newcomers last night as both Tyler Ennis and Andreas Athanasiou tallied a goal and an assist in that one and both are skating on the first line alongside Connor McDavid.
For now, they’re at least replacing James Neal and Kailer Yamamoto who are both injured at the moment.
The true difference for this team on the road versus at home is their play at the other end of the ice.
On defense, the Oilers are the worst in the league at home with 3.50 goals against per game, but they sit fourth with 2.70 goals against per game on the road this season.
Furthermore, their road penalty kill is by far the best in the NHL with a stout 88.4% mark despite allowing a power play goal in last night’s loss.
That’s back-to-back games that the Oilers have surrendered a power play marker, but they went a perfect 21 for 21 on the kill over their previous seven games, so they are indeed a super-elite team in the penalty-killing department.
They aren’t a great possession team wherever they play, however.
At 5v5 on the road, the Oilers rank 20th with a 47.84% Corsi For%, 18th with a 47.85% Scoring Chances For% and 12th with a 48.91% High-Danger Chances For%.
They outshot the Ducks 32-21 last night and posted a 54.35% Corsi For%, 55.81% Scoring Chances For% and 54.55% High-Danger Chances For% but still came out on the wrong side of that one.
Their goaltending wasn’t at its best with Mike Smith last night, but Mikko Koskinen has been the better of the two on the road this season and he should certainly get the nod tonight in Vegas.
Koskinen will enter tonight’s contest against the Golden Knights sporting a 2.89 GAA and .911 Sv% on the season in 33 outings, but also a 2.33 GAA and .929 Sv% on the road to go along with an 8-6-0 record in 16 appearances on the season.
Koskinen allowed four goals on 38 shots in a 5-3 loss to the Wild at home his last time out, but also stopped 33 of 34 shots in Florida as part of a 4-1 win in his most recent road start.
The Golden Knights will look to extend their Pacific Division lead tonight as they sit just two points ahead of the Canucks and Oilers atop the division at the moment, but both teams have at least a game in hand with the Canucks having two.
If they are able to get the win tonight, it will mark seven in a row for the Knights as they bring a six-game win streak into action tonight.
Of the six straight wins, the first five came at home while averaging four goals per game during that time to have them sneak up the offensive rankings at home.
They’ll enter this one ranked eighth with 3.42 goals per game at home this season while their power play has clicked at a potent 28.4% clip at T-Mobile Arena, good for third-best in the league on home ice.
While they’ve enjoyed success on offense at home this season, especially of late, their home defense has been uncharacteristically porous this season, even of late despite the consistent winning.
The Golden Knights rank 25th with 3.15 goals against per game at home this season and their penalty kill has also scuffled and ranks all the way down at 29th with a 75% mark.
Over their six straight wins, the Golden Knights have still yielded an even 3.00 goals per game, a number that’s increased to 3.67 over their last three.
The penalty kill went 2 for 2 their last time out, but also went just 6 for 10 for a 60% clip over their previous three.
This is an extremely strong possession team at home, however.
At 5v5 at home, the Knights rank fourth with a 55.18% Corsi For%, second with a 57.64% Scoring Chances For% and third with a 58.36% High-Danger Chances For%.
As a result, it’s not hard to see why they own a strong 19-10-4 mark on home ice this season en route to first place in the division at this point.
Unlike with the Oilers, it’s a complete guess right now as to who will get the starting nod in goal for the Golden Knights.
Keep in mind that Vegas made an unforeseen move in acquiring goaltender Robin Lehner from the Chicago Blackhawks on trade deadline day to solidify the position behind or alongside veteran Marc-Andre Fleury.
That’s likely because Fleury hasn’t looked himself of late and his numbers are down for the season on the whole.
He owns a decent 2.79 GAA and .906 Sv% on the season in 45 outings, but he hasn’t been as good at home where he owns a 2.96 GAA and .900 Sv% in 28 starts.
Fleury also posted a 3.37 GAA and .886 Sv% in January after a month of December that saw him work to a 3.13 GAA and .896 Sv%. He has rebounded a bit in February with a 2.53 GAA but also a mediocre .901 Sv%, but his season has been a bit of a roller coaster and he’s dealt with off-ice issues as well including the death of his father.
As a result, it’s not hard to see why general manager George McPhee went out and solidified the position with Lehner who is having another excellent season after his Vezina nomination from last year while with the Islanders.
Lehner has turned in a 3.01 GAA but also a strong .918 Sv% with the Blackhawks this season, not exactly one of the NHL’s better defensive teams.
He’s struggled of late, however, allowing at least four goals in three straight starts and six in his most recent one with an .876 Sv% in that time.
I could see Lehner getting the nod and making his Vegas debut against the Oilers tonight.
It’s certainly a tough back-to-back for an Oilers team coming off a disappointing loss last night, but I see some serious value potential here.
The Oilers have been extremely resilient on the road this season where they’ve played much better defense and received much better goaltending.
Their offense hasn’t been as good on the road, but still good enough given their defensive play while their special teams on the road are the best in the NHL.
Their penalty kill will get a stiff test against a high-octane Golden Knights power play, but also one that’s gone just 1 for 12 (8.3%) over their last five games.
The Oilers saved their better road goaltender for this matchup tonight knowing the Golden Knights were easily the superior offensive team to the Ducks and it’s not as if Edmonton played a poor defensive game last night as they allowed the Ducks only 21 shots on goal and didn’t get any help from Mike Smith who allowed four goals for an .809 Sv% in that one.
This is the second matchup of the season between these two teams and the Oilers won the first one – in Vegas – by a 4-2 score as +150 underdogs.
With the back-to-back situation and the Knights riding a six-game win streak, the odds have shot up to +193 for this matchup tonight.
To me, I view that as increased value for a strong Oilers road team with elite special teams, stout defense and excellent goaltending and I’ll look to take advantage as a win puts Edmonton back in first place tonight.