My last set of free NHL picks came on Friday and it was a 1-1 night that saw us dead-even in terms of units as well.
I mean, there was absolutely nothing wrong with my pick of the Penguins on the puckline over the Red Wings at nice +120 odds. Except for the result, that is.
Coming off a stretch of horrendous starts, Jimmy Howard was excellent for the Red Wings on this night, turning aside 35 of the 37 Penguins shots that came his way. Pittsburgh outshot the Wings by a 37-29 count, but it took overtime for their 2-1 win, so my Penguins puckline pick was sunk. I’m taking that pick all day long at those odds, so I’ll tip my cap to Howard and take the loss in that one.
We got evened up shortly after, however, as the Ducks and Hurricanes played to a close, low-scoring affair.
I had the under 5.5 in that one, and it was never really in doubt. Although it was a 1-1 score after one period – a six-goal pace – there were zero goals scored in the second period and another goose egg in the third. The Ducks completed a huge upset with an OT winner, however, and took that one by a 2-1 count as heavy road underdogs in the neighborhood of +180.
No harm, no foul on the night as we move to tonight’s small two-game NHL schedule!
Season Record: 81-68-1
Now let’s take a look at this Red Wings vs. Avalanche free NHL pick from the Pepsi Center in Colorado!
Red Wings vs. Avalanche Betting Odds
- Red Wings (+330)
- Avalanche (-380)
- Red Wings +1.5 (+143)
- Avalanche -1.5 (-163)
- Over 6.5 (+105)
- Under 6.5 (-116)
Red Wings vs. Avalanche NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these teams before I get into my final pick!
The Wings fought hard in that loss to the Penguins on Friday, but also managed just one goal the following night in a 4-1 loss to the Panthers.
That’s four straight games in which the Red Wings have managed two goals or fewer and the third time over the last four that they’ve scored just one goal in a game.
Of course, we’re not surprised given the team’s season-long struggles on offense.
The Red Wings will enter this one ranked dead last by a mile with just 2.04 goals per game on the road this season where their power play has struggled immensely to the tune of a 9% clip, also good for the worst mark in the NHL.
Of course, the Red Wings have also struggled on the back end wherever they’ve played, but have been worse on the road.
The Wings could be encouraged by the recent play of Howard who should get the nod tonight in Jonathan Bernier’s absence, but I could also see Jeff Blashill starting Calvin Pickard against his old club where he spent the best years of his career so far.
Howard would enter this one sporting a 4.06 GAA and .883 Sv% on the season to go along with an ugly 2-17-2 record. He has gone 1-7-1 on the road thanks in large part to his 4.79 GAA and .855 Sv% away from home this season.
He’s improved to a .932 SV% over his last two starts – against a couple of good offenses – after posting an .839 Sv% over his last six outings combined.
If it’s Pickard that gets the start, it’s not much prettier.
He’s seen limited NHL time with just three appearances this season, but owns a 5.46 GAA and .797 Sv% in that time and most recently allowed five goals on 19 shots as part of an 8-2 loss to the Islanders last week.
Pickard allowed six goals on 35 shots in Philadelphia back on November 29th in his lone start of the season.
After dropping four in a row, the Avalanche have found their game with wins in back-to-back contests, both of which came at home.
They won an important 5-3 affair over the Central-leading Blues on Saturday afternoon, however they did so despite putting just 18 shots on goal.
That’s this Avalanche offense, however.
The Avs will enter this one ranked third with 3.83 goals per game at home this season where they’ve now scored nine times over the mini two-game win streak.
Their power play ranks 11th at home with a 22.6% mark and has also been held in check of late despite the increase in scoring, going 0 for 9 over their last three and just 1 for 20 (5%) over their last seven.
While they’ve been dominant at the offensive end at home, they’ve struggled defensively at home as well.
They’ll enter this one having allowed 3.17 goals per game at home this season, good for a share of 25th league wide. They’re home penalty kill has scuffled as well, sitting in a share of 23rd with a 78.6% mark.
That penalty kill has gone 20 for 27 over their last 10 games, good for a shaky 74% mark.
Given that this is an afternoon game, the teams did not skate this morning and therefore we aren’t sure who will get the starting nod in goal for the home side, either.
Philipp Grubauer has regained his hold on the starting job of late, starting three in a row and eight of the last 10.
He sports a 2.82 GAA and .910 Sv% on the season to go along with a 14-10-4 record.
His splits are now fairly even as he has posted a 2.87 GAA and .906 Sv% at home this season where he’s gone 8-5-2.
If Pavel Francouz gets back into the net tonight, he’d carry a 2.41 GAA and .926 Sv% into action. He’s been better on the road, however, where he’s posted an eye-popping 1.82 GAA and .947 Sv% on the season and a 2.88 GAA and .908 Sv% at home.
Goaltending won’t factor into tonight’s decision with the starters for both sides in doubt.
The Red Wings bounced back from an embarrassing 8-2 loss to the Islanders last week with some improved efforts against the Penguins and Panthers.
Still this defense is just god-awful on the road and that penalty kill is as well.
As a result, I’m expecting plenty of offense from the home team today. Still, these odds are laying a lot of juice.
Instead, I’m looking at the total. To be honest, I think the Avalanche could approach the over 6.5 here just on their own.
However, despite averaging a hair over two goals per game on the road, I think the Red Wings could exceed that average tonight against what’s been a poor home defense and a poor penalty kill while both Grubauer and Francouz have been nothing more than mediocre at home this season.
After struggling a little bit on offense over their four consecutive losses, the Avalanche have found their scoring touch. It could get ugly for the Wings in this one.
As a result, I’m looking for something like a 5-2 or 6-3 Avalanche win in this one. Therefore, give me the over 6.5 today from the Pepsi Center.