There were just two games on last night’s NHL schedule, but I was able to take advantage of one of them and hit a winner on a home underdog.
I had the Rangers as +120 home dogs to take care of the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs who were going through a goaltender crisis entering that one.
The Maple Leafs had to roll with struggling backup Michael Hutchinson – who has struggled mightily on the road this season – due to a neck injury that sidelined starter Frederik Andersen.
The Maple Leafs opened the scoring, but the Rangers roared back with three of their own – including two in a six-second span – to take a 3-1 lead into the dressing room after 20.
The Maple Leafs carried the play in the second and made it a 3-2 game before Hutchinson committed a big error in the Leafs crease that led to a 4-2 goal and a restored two-goal lead for the Rangers.
The Maple Leafs didn’t fully recover from the momentum swing and despite making it a 4-3 game late, the Rangers tacked on an empty-better and sealed the upset in a 5-3 final.
I’ll that the win to snap a mini cold drought and I’ll look to this 12-game Thursday night schedule as an opportunity to carry some momentum forward!
Season Record: 89-78-1
Now let’s take a look at this free NHL pick featuring the Sharks vs. Oilers from Edmonton!
Sharks vs. Oilers Betting Odds
- Sharks (+155)
- Oilers (-175)
- Sharks +1.5 (-175)
- Oilers -1.5 (+155)
- Over 6.5 (+100)
- Under 6.5 (-120)
Sharks vs. Oilers NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these clubs before I get into my final pick!
The Sharks are shorthanded at the moment without their top two centers in Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl, but marched into Calgary and handed the Flames a 3-1 loss on their home turf their last time out.
The win was just their second over their last seven games, however, as their play at both ends of the ice has just not been good enough.
A Sharks offense that ranked int the top three just last season enters this one ranked 29th with just 2.27 goals per game on the road this season despite a power play that is tied for ninth with a 20.3% mark on the campaign.
Similarly, their defense has struggled as they sit 26th with 3.50 goals against per game on the road this season despite a road penalty kill that ranks third with an 84.9% mark.
Clearly, the Sharks have struggled mightily at 5v5 on the road this season and the advanced numbers show it.
At 5v5 on the road, the Sharks rank dead last with just 1.89 goals/60 minutes and on defense they rank 27th with 3.05 goals against/60.
The possession metrics aren’t much prettier.
At 5v5 on the road, the Sharks rank 11th with a 49.59% Corsi For%, but also 22nd with a 46.29% Scoring Chances For% and also 22nd with a 44.84% High-Danger Chances For%.
In other words, they are generating shot attempts at a decent rate, but are getting vastly out-chanced as well.
The Sharks also haven’t received much in the way of goaltending on the road either with a 29th-ranked 5v5 save percentage of .898.
Looking to buck that trend tonight will be Aaron Dell who has wrestled the starting job away from Martin Jones of late.
Dell enters this one sporting a 2.74 GAA and .913 Sv% on the season – a big improvement over Jones – and he’s actually been quite good on the road as well.
Dell owns a 2.90 GAA and .913 Sv% on the road this season and was responsible for the 3-1 win in Calgary on Tuesday with 30 saves on 31 shots.
That said, he posted just an .894 Sv% over his previous three starts on the road.
The Oilers won four of five heading into Arizona on Tuesday but were shut down by the defensively sound Coyotes and goaltender Antti Raanta in a 3-0 shutout loss.
The Oilers entered that one red-hot on offense after hanging eight goals on the Flames in their previous game while they had averaged 5.20 goals per game over their previous five with seven or more in two of those five.
Offense hasn’t been much of an issue at home for the Oilers as their 3.40 goals per game at Rogers Place this season ranks 10th in the league while their power play has dominated to the tune of a 31% clip at home this season, good for the second-best mark in the league.
It’s been the defensive side of the puck that has hounded them at home all season long.
The Oilers will play tonight’s game as the worst home defense in the NHL with 3.48 goals against per game while their penalty kill goes from by far the best on the road all the way to 27th with a 75.8% clip at home.
That home defense has improved of late, however, as they have allowed 2.75 goals against per game over their last four at home – three of four resulting in wins – and just 2.50 regulation goals per game in that stretch.
Despite rostering the top two point-getters in the league, the Oilers are not a great possession team, at least at home.
At 5v5 at home this season, the Oilers rank 24th with a 48.62% Corsi For%, 23rd with a 49.16% Scoring Chances For% and 19th with a 52.46% High-Danger Chances For%.
While the rankings aren’t great, they figures themselves are hardly terrible and they are superior to those of the Sharks, especially in the high-danger department.
At this point we aren’t sure whether it will be Mikko Koskinen or Mike Smith getting the nod in goal for the home side tonight.
If it’s Koskinen, he will bring a 2.80 GAA and .913 Sv% into action across 30 appearances this season, but also a decreased 3.19 GAA and .899 Sv% in 14 starts and 15 appearances at home.
Koskinen has been sharp of late, however, posting a .939 Sv% over his last three appearances (two starts) after an extended break before and during the All-Star game that spanned nearly three weeks.
If it’s Smith, he will bring in a 3.00 GAA and .899 Sv% on the season in 28 outing, but he too has struggled at home where he’s put together a 3.37 GAA and .884 Sv% in 11 starts and 13 appearances.
Smith hasn’t fared well of late, however, allowing six goals over roughly his last five periods of work and owns an .870 Sv% in that time as a result.
While I won’t base my pick on it, I assume the Oilers will go with the hotter goaltender in Koskinen for a game they need to have tonight.
Yes, this is indeed a must-win for an Oilers team that is in the thick of the mess that is the Pacific Division.
The standings are changing every night in the Pacific and games against a team like the Sharks are games you need to win, something the rival Flames were unable to accomplish on Tuesday.
To me, the Oilers have a big opportunity to put up offense. Sure, maybe their dominant home power play is mitigated by a quality Sharks penalty kill, but I expect Edmonton to run all over San Jose at 5v5 tonight.
Just think, the Oilers 1-2 punch down the middle of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl should absolutely obliterate the Sharks’ current 1-2 punch of Barclay Goodrow and 41-year-old Joe Thornton.
That is a mismatch of epic proportions.
While the Oilers haven’t defended well at home on the whole, they’ve done a much better job of that of late and Koskinen (okay, I guess I am assuming he still start) is hot at the moment and I’d be shocked if Dave Tippett didn’t give him the nod with no back-to-back scenario at play tonight.
I am really considering the puckline for this play tonight. I can’t emphasize enough how much I believe the Oilers can dominate this game at even strength and anything on the power play I would consider a bonus.
Those +155 puckline odds are really appetizing, and they’re certainly worth a sprinkle if nothing else.
That said, in case Dell stands on his head or the Oilers revert back to their home defensive struggles, I am going to go more conservative with this pick.
No, I’m not laying all that moneyline juice, but I am a fan of their three-way moneyline (60 minutes) odds at -120, and that’s what I am rolling with tonight.