There were just two games on last night’s NHL schedule and I made a single free NHL pick, but we hit a real nice winner with a home underdog.
Indeed, I had the Rangers at +120 to knock off the Maple Leafs who were forced into starting backup Michael Hutchinson who has struggled mightily on the road this season.
The Leafs opened the scoring, but the Rangers replied quickly and then scored two goals in a six-second span to take a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes.
The Maple Leafs took over in the second, however, and made it a 3-2 game. That said, a Hutchinson gaffe led to a 4-2 goal from Pavel Buchnevich to restore the two-goal lead and snatch momentum back for the home side.
The Maple Leafs made it 4-3 late on an Auston Matthews power play goal, but the Rangers sealed it with an empty-netter and took this one by a 5-3 count.
It was a nice winner to snap a brief cold streak, and now we have a big opportunity to build on it with 12 games on this Thursday night in the NHL.
Season Record: 89-78-1
Now let’s check out this free NHL pick featuring the Predators vs. Flames from the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary!
Predators vs. Flames Betting Odds
- Predators (-105)
- Flames (-105)
- Predators +1.5 (-245)
- Flames -1.5 (+205)
- Over 6.5 (+104)
- Under 6.5 (-115)
Predators vs. Flames NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these clubs before we get into my final pick!
The Predators needed to come out of the All-Star break and rack up some wins to get back into the playoff race in the west and while it began with a loss to the Maple Leafs, they’ve now won three of four entering this one tonight.
It would appear that they are currently more comfortable playing on the road right now as both post-break losses have come at home while they are a clean 3-0-0 on the road after returning from the break.
Most recently, they won a big one in Winnipeg over the Jets by a 2-1 score in overtime on Tuesday night.
They managed just two goals in that one, but scored 11 goals over their previous two road games in wins over the Devils and Capitals.
Scoring on the road is nothing new for Nashville as they’ll enter this one as the NHL’s third-best road offense where they’ve averaged 3.58 goals per game on the season.
It’s a superior number to their mark at home while their road power play is much better than their one at home as they rank 11th with a 20.2% mark on the man advantage away from home.
Their issues have been on the back end and while they held the Jets to just one goal on Tuesday, they allowed nine goals over their previous two road games.
They’ll now enter this one ranked 18th with 3.27 goals against per game on the road, although it’s been their penalty kill that’s absolutely crippled them at they are dead last with a brutal 68.8% mark on the PK away from home.
The kill helped by going 3 for 3 on Tuesday, but went just 5 for 8 in their previous two road contests.
Overall, their penalty kill has been better lately in posting an 85% mark over their last six games.
Possession-wise, the Predators are dominant at home, but not so great on the road.
At 5v5 on the road, Nashville ranks 18th with a 48.13% Corsi For%, 15th with a 48.07% Scoring Chances For% and 20th with a 46.14% High-Danger Chances For%.
That said, they are by far the NHL’s best-finishing team on the road with a 26.16% shooting rate on high-danger chances at 5v5 and a second-ranked 10.40% 5v5 shooting rate on the road overall.
We aren’t sure who will get the starting nod in goal for the road side tonight, and I won’t speculate too much on that.
Juuse Saros got the four-game road trip started on the right note as he turned aside 33 of 34 Jets shots on Tuesday (.971 Sv%) but owns just a 3.23 GAA and .901 Sv% on the road this season.
If it’s Pekka Rinne, he will bring a 3.01 GAA and .898 Sv% into action, but his splits are more favorable to the road where he’s turned in a 2.84 GAA and . 908 Sv% in 13 appearances.
Rinne was also excellent in his last start, turning aside 36 of 38 Golden Knights shots, but didn’t receive a single goal of support in a 3-0 loss on home ice on Saturday.
The Flames dropped their second straight game on Tuesday, a 3-1 loss to the lowly Sharks after taking an 8-3 lashing from the rival Oilers on Saturday.
Both losses came at home as they were outscored 11-4 in the process.
The Tuesday loss came at a price outside of the standings as reigning Norris Trophy winner Mark Giordano left that one with an awkward-looking lower-body injury and he did not participate in Wednesday’s practice.
Giordano went down in a splits position and I would personally be shocked if he suited up for this one as it looks like an injury that could be of the long-term variety, which would be a devastating blow for a Flames team clinging onto a playoff spot at the moment.
Sitting right behind them is this Predators team, so the Flames will look to regroup in a hurry for a monumental clash tonight.
While the potential loss of Giordano on the blueline would hurt, it’s been the Flames’ offense that’s hurt them the most this season.
Their home defense hasn’t helped matters as they sit tied for 26th with 3.19 goals against per game at home with a 16th-ranked penalty kill that checks in with an 81.5% clip entering this one.
The Flames do own the possession advantage tonight, however.
At 5v5 at home, they rank 14th with a 51.24% Corsi For% and 15th with a 52.24% Scoring Chances For%, but also just 24th with a 50.86% High-Danger Chances For%.
Their inability to finish has hurt them as they also rank 27th with just a 7.27% shooting rate at 5v5 on home ice this season.
Like with the Predators, we aren’t sure of who will get the starting nod in this one tonight.
David Rittich has seen a ton of work this season, and would bring in a 2.68 GAA and .909 Sv% across 39 starts should he get the nod. His splits don’t favor the home side, however, with a 2.99 GAA and .901 Sv% at the Saddledome in 18 starts.
Rittich has been roughed up of late as well turning in an .833 Sv% over his last two and an .824 Sv% over his last three.
Perhaps Cam Talbot gets the nod then as he’s been solid this season in posting a 2.70 GAA and .919 Sv% in 15 starts and 18 appearances.
Talbot’s splits are quite similar as he’s produced a 2.75 GAA and .917 Sv% at home but he too has struggled of late, posting just an .897 Sv% over his last three appearances (two starts).
The Flames are slipping out of the playoff race in the west, and while those standings are changing nearly every night, they could very well find themselves on the outside of a tight race looking in.
Needless to say, that Giordano injury is a big one as he’s the heartbeat of that team and if he misses time they are in big trouble.
The Predators can smell blood, come in having won three of four and are much better on the road than they are at home with a 14-9-3 road record compared to their 11-11-4 mark at home.
Losing your best defenseman doesn’t help against the league’s third-ranked road offense. The Flames also have a couple of netminders to choose from, both of which have struggled of late.
To be honest, it’s a little lucky that the Flames are still in the race as their -19 goal differential on the season is the fourth-worst mark in the conference.
The Flames are an extremely vulnerable team having been fed their lunch over the last two games, and the Giordano injury is just a gut punch to this team.
As a result, I’m all over the streaking Predators to come into Calgary and take care of the Flames to move to within one point of that second Wild Card spot in the west.