We get it, Mondays are tough. After such an incredible weekend of hockey complete with a beautiful day game slate on Sunday, it’s no fun going back into the office, but before you get all down on yourself remember this, the NHL will always have your back.
Starting with six games on Monday night we all have something to look forward to at the end of the day and it’s the moment the puck drops on Monday’s games. With just six contests on the schedule there’s lots of room to think about each and every one of your picks long and hard and that’s what we’re here to help with.
So kick back, shake off that Monday stress and get ready to make some money on some great hockey games.
LA Kings at New York Rangers
LA (EVEN) at New York (-130)
LA +1.5 (-280) at New York -1.5 (+230)
Total – Over/Under
5.5 (EVEN over, -130 under)
The Kings and Rangers land in our feature spot this week, though not necessarily because both teams are enjoying much recent success. While New York is coming off a 1-0 win over the suddenly difficult Red Wings, they still find themselves in a Wild Card spot as the Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets and Washington Capitals continue to surge ahead of them in the Metropolitan Division.
In LA the situation is much worse. The Kings have lost three straight including their latest blunder, a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the new-look Islanders and now sit three points out of a Wild Card spot with the season continuing to tick away. For the depth and talent this team possesses its downright shocking to not see them higher up in he standings.
Still, this is a team that has won two Stanley Cups since 2012 and one of those came when they entered the playoffs as the eighth seed. The Kings have the propensity to only show up for the meaningful games, and this certainly counts as one. However it won’t be easy for LA to just turn on the skill level.m
They’re just 8-12-3 on the road this season and 5-5-0 in their last ten games. There’s a beacon of hope for the Kings however, LA is 8-2-0 against the Rangers in their last ten contests. If the Kings can dig deep and play like the team their skill level is capable of they could grab a much needed win on the road against a good Rangers squad.
The Kings rank just 23 in goals this season, averaging 2.50 a game. With the names that don the back of their jerseys you would expect that number to be much higher, but some players have disappointed mightily this season.
None more so than Anze Kopitar. In his first year as captain of the Kings the skilled forward has just 25 points, but his play has been improving as of late. In his last five games he has racked up seven points but still just one goal. For a player known for putting the puck in the back of the net four goals on the season is simply unacceptable.
Luckily for Kopitar and the Kings a man named Jeff Carter has decided to have a career resurgence. The veteran has 41 points this year including an incredible 24 goals which ranks behind only Sidney Crosby for the lead league. Carter continues to be consistent as well and was one of just two players to find the back of the net in their last outing.
The Kings power play has struggled as well this season, operating at just a 16.91 percent success rate. Part of the problem in that department has been the lack of goals from defensemen. Drew Doughty is second on the team in power play goals behind Jeff Carter with just three and unless the blue line figures out how to get more quality shots on net the Kings offense is going to continue to suffer.
In New York the offense has never been a problem all season long. Even scoring just one goal in their last outing was enough to gain the victory and the Rangers still sit second in NHL scoring with 3.49 goals a game. That’s almost exactly a goal more than the Kings score on any given night and New York has a deep and talented cast of forwards capable of burying one at any moment.
Lost among the big goal scorers like Michael Grabner, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller and Rick Nash is Mats Zuccarello. After having a quiet season earlier in the year the forward has surged in his last five games with seven points despite not scoring a goal. He now leads the team in total points with 37 and joins four other Rangers who have all hit the 30 point plateau this season.
Unlike the Kings the Rangers are having no trouble on the power play where they rank 9th this season. Despise an injury to defenseman Marc Staal New York continues to produce with the extra man attacker and have outscored the Kings 5-4 on the powerplay in their last ten games despite winning just two of those contests.
The Kings’ defense has been playing surprisingly well this season and even in their mini three game slump have given up just three goals a game. While that number should obviously be lower, LA still has the 8th ranked defense, allowing just 2.64 goals a contest.
It would be nice to see that defense bail our their offense more often as the Kings try to find any semblance of consistency from game to game, but the reality is if you don’t score more goals than the other team, you can’t win.
The Kings are dealing with no significant injuries along their blue line and Drew Doughty continues to look like a perennial all-star. Jake Muezzin and Alec Martinez needs o pick their games up though. Both players are a combined -18 and seem more concentrated on scoring than helping stop the puck.
In New York the defense could use some improvement, but for the most part has been steady enough to carry this team. They rank 11th on the year allowing 2.66 goals a game and their penalty kill is right in the middle of the pack at 14th. Those numbers should be strong enough against LA’s struggling offense but with Marc Staal still battling a concussion everyone else along the blue line needs to continue to step up.
None of the Rangers’ defensemen have significantly poor plus/minus ratings and as long as they continue to get help from their hard-working forwards the defense will continue to play well enough to let the offense thrive.
Henrik Lundqvist’s struggles recently have been well documented, but it appears the King is finally ready to regain his crown. After giving four, then five, then SEVEN goals in three straight games Lundqvist and the Rangers had hit the panic button.
Yet the veteran was not deterred. He responded with a 23 save performance allowing just two goals against the Leafs and then shutout the Red Wings on Sunday 1-0. He may get the night off considering the Rangers are playing back to back, so keep an eye on whether he starts or not.
Peter Budaj hasn’t been as lucky. He’s given up three goals in back to back games and while he’s done a respectable job filling in for the injured Jonathan Quick, its become apparent how badly the Kings relied on their injured goalie.
Budaj has a respectable 2.14 goals against average with a .916 save percentage and yet it still isn’t enough to rescue the Kings each night.
Anne Kopitar against Rick Nash. With Nash healthy he’s one of the biggest bodies on the ice, and one of the most lethal scorers. Kopitar will be responsible for keeping an eye on him while also trying to pick up his own game,
Don’t ask us why but we like the Kings tonight. Ok fine ask us, it is our job. LA is 8-2-0 in their last ten against the Rangers, desperately need a win and seem to jack up their level against good teams. The chances of Lundqvist starting in net for the Rangers are slim meaning the Kings get to go up against the second fiddle. The Rangers are also playing in the second night of a back to back while the Kings are rested and read to go. Take LA on the spread getting good odds.
Carolina Hurricanes at Washington Capitals
Carolina (+175) at Washington (-220)
Carolina +1.5 (-170) at Washington -1.5 (+140)
Total – Over/Under
5.5 (+105 over, -135 under)
The Hurricanes have run into a tough schedule lately and its showing. Carolina has dropped three straight games with their latest loss a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets. It doesn’t get any easier for the Canes when they travel to take on the hottest team in the NHL own Monday night.
The Washington Capitals have recorded a point in 13 straight games with just one overtime loss in their crazy 8-7 game with the Pittsburgh Penguins during that span. The Capitals are scoring at a rate that literally jumps off the page. In their last ten games they’ve averaged five goals a game and have failed to score at least four goals just once during their incredible run.
Led by Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstroke the rest of the team has picked up their play as well. After struggling to start the season Evgeny Kuznetsov has picked up his play with eight points in his last four games after a dominant campaign last season. If he can continue to keep his level of play up the Caps become that much more dangerous.
Now they get to feast on a Carolina team that has truly struggled on the road this season. The Hurricanes are just 6-13-6 away from Raleigh this season and with three straight losses sitting in the back of their minds the confidence is beginning to fade as well.
Carolina is just 3-4-3 in their last ten games against the Capitals and their power play has been a huge reason why. The Hurricanes own a 10.00 percent success rate in their last ten games against the Capitals and we expect that trend to continue. Washington boasts the third ranked penalty kill in the league and the number one overall defense.
Cam Ward against Braden Holtby
Assuming Ward gets the start despite his dismal play lately this matchup will be huge for both teams. Ward let in seven goals on 41 shots in his last outing against the Penguins and now owns a save percentage of just .909 on the season. He’s capable of playing better than that, but we haven’t seen it recently. He’ll need to recapture his form if he has any hope of keeping up with Holtby.
The Capitals’ goalie has a 22-8-4 record with a .929 save percentage and goals against average of 1.99. He doesn’t have to be brilliant every night with the team that plays in front of him, but he’s still one of the best goalies in the league and capable of shutting down the Hurricanes’ struggling offense.
The money’s not great, but taking Carolina on the road is hardly a wise decision based on their track record this season. Add in their opponent scoring at terrifying levels and there’s just no way to pick the Canes. Take Washington the spread and the moneyline.
Calgary Flames at Toronto Maple Leafs
Calgary (+115) at Toronto (-145)
Calgary +1.5 (-240) at Toronto -1.5 (+190)
Total – Over/Under
5.5 (-120 over, -110 under)
The Flames have dropped two straight after getting spanked 7-3 by their provincial rivals when the Oilers made quick work of them on Saturday Night. Edmonton scored three times in the opening six minutes and the rest was history. Calgary has just a one point lead in the Wild Card rice over fellow Canadians the Canucks.
The Flames battle another Canadian team on Monday night when they travel to Toronto to take on the high-flying Leafs. Toronto has lost two straight games with a heartbreaking overtime loss on Saturday night to their provincial rivals the Senators. With a minute left in the third and Ottawa on the power play they pulled their goalie and promptly scored with the 6 on 4 advantage.
Now Toronto has to try and right the ship after such a promising run earlier in the month. The Leafs are still without Morgan Rielly and its clearly hurting. Jake Gardiner has tried to fill the void on defense but his lack of confidence in being the number one defender is starting to show. The good news for the Leafs is that Rielly is listed as questionable for Monday’s game and may be able to give it a go after testing his knee in the morning skate.
Calgary’s problem as of late has been defense. They’ve let 11 goals in during their last two games and most of the blame is falling on the goalies. Chad Johnson stopped just one of four shots in the first six minutes against Edmonton and was quickly pulled but Brian Elliot fared no better. He came in to let in three goals and now has a save percentage of .893 with a 2.73 goals against average on the season. Regardless of who starts for Calgary in net against Toronto, the Leafs will be firing at will.
Auston Matthews against Mark Giordano. After tearing it up earlier in January Matthews has cooled off lately with just one goal in his last five games. He’s as good of a goal scorer as there is when he’s on and he’ll be trying to give his team and extra push in a much-needed win. It won’t be easy against one of the best defensemen in the league in Giordano.
Both teams have five wins in their last ten meetings but the last time they met the Leafs were shutout. Toronto has found their scoring touch now and a shutout is highly doubtful, unless it happens to Calgary. The Flames are struggling and Toronto is 11-8-3 at home this season so we like taking them on the spread.
Anaheim Ducks at Winnipeg Jets
Anaheim (n/a) at Winnipeg (n/a)
Anaheim (n/a) at Winnipeg (n/a)
Total – Over/Under
The Ducks and Jets collide in Winnipeg in a Western Conference showdown, but the battle is a little one-sided. Anaheim is 7-2-1 in their last ten games and are currently first in the Pacific division while the Jets are three points out of a Wild Card Spot. Winnipeg has shown some signs of life recently though with two straight wins including a huge road victory in their last outing against the St.Louis Blues.
Still without goal-scoring phenom Patrik Laine as he deals with a concussion the Jets have managed to score 11 goals in their last two games. Brian Little has woken up lately with three goals in his last two games to give him ten on the season and Mark Scheifele has continued his consistent play all year long.
The Jets’ forward has six points over his last four games including two goals and now has 45 points in 46 contests. As long as Winnipeg can continue to get other means of production other than just Scheifele they can stay in any game. The bigger problem for Winnipeg is their goalie situation. Connor Hellebuyck has been demoted from the starters spot after struggling mightily last week to make room for Ondrej Pavelec and while the veteran goalie is now 2-0 in his return to the NHL he already has a goals against average of 3.00
Anaheim will try and get to whoever starts in net early but it won’t be easy. Despite the Ducks’ success they’ve scored just eight goals in their last four games and now have to go on the road where they’re 10-9-6 on the season.
Ryan Getzlaf against Dustin Byfuglien. Byfuglien is quietly having another very good season and his 30 points have helped the Jets stay in games. He’ll be tasked with shutting down Getzlaf who has at least a point in four of his last five contests.
Anaheim is 9-0-1 in their last ten games against Winnipeg and seem to have the Jets’ number. They’re playing at a high level at the moment and while Winnipeg has shown flashes of potential we think their mini streak stops here. Take the Ducks on the spread.
San Jose Sharks at Colorado Avalanche
San Jose (-210) at Colorado (+170)
San Jose -1.5 (+140) at Colorado +1.5 (-170)
Total – Over/Under
5 (-145 over, +115 under)
Uh-Oh. After some fairly even games earlier in the day the Sharks get to invade Colorado and take a bite out of the Avalanche. This is the second game of a home and home between the two teams and to give Colorado credit for once they did manage to take San Jose to overtime, where they eventually lost.
The result is promising for a Colorado team that is just 1-8-1 in their last ten games and own a record of 13-29-2 overall, but repeating that performance is going to be tough at home where they have won just five times all season long.
The Sharks are 6-3-1 against the Avalanche in their last ten meetings and are a respectable 12-10-1 on the road this season. While their offense is ranked just 18th this season their defense has been incredible and sits at 4th in goals allowed. San Hose also allowed just 27.04 shots a game this season and with it already being difficult enough to score if you’re on Colorado this makes it all that much harder.
Matt Duchene against Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Duchene saw his three game point streak come to an end against the Sharks in his last game and now as to go up against Vlasic and the rest of San Jose’s stellar defensemen again. Still, Duchene has looked better as of late and may be ready to start piling up the points like we’ve seen him do in the past.
The Sharks are getting half-decent odds for being the road team and their skill level is far more superior than the Avalanche. San Jose’s defense is simply too much for Colorado to try and break through and we expect another low-scoring game with the Sharks pulling it out on the road. Take San Jose on the spread and the Under.
Florida Panthers at Arizona Coyotes
Florida (-140) at Arizona (+110)
Florida -1.5 (+220) at Arizona +1.5 (-270)
Total – Over/Under
5 (-130 over, EVEN under)
Our last game of the night won’t exactly knock your socks off either but there’s definitely some money to be made. The Panthers enter Arizona with three straight losses during their west coast Canadian swing when they lost to the Oilers, Flames and Canucks. That recent performance has pushed their line way down, and yet we still like the Panthers.
Arizona is the second worst team in the league by far, and their recent performance has done nothing to give us confidence they’re capable of pulling out a win. The Coyotes are 3-6-1 in their last ten games and while they won their most recent game, it was against one of the most injured teams in the league in the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Coyotes offense and defense are both ranked 29th and neither one has shown any signs of improving. Their fives goals against the Lightning are the most they’ve scored since October 27th when they dropped five on Philly and the lack of scoring is a huge issue. Radio Vrbata continues to lead the team in points with just 33 and goals with only 11.
The Panthers are still 4-5-1 in their last ten games despite dropping three straight and desperately need a win. They’re still ravaged by injuries and won’t have a fully healthy team until mid March so picking up wins against squads like the Coyotes is incredibly important to their playoff chances.
Roberto Luongo against Mike Smith. Mike Smith is a good goalie on a very bad team. He is an incredible 5-0-2 this season when facing 40 shots or more which is downright bonkers. He still owns a .915 save percentage despite getting peppered every single night and he’ll need to be sharp again against a team looking for goals early. Longo has struggled as of late but if he can make a few saves early stopping the Coyotes for the rest of the night should be a walk in the park.
The Panthers are getting great odds on the spread given their recent struggles and the fact they’re playing on the road. Take Florida on the spread and hope they can take care of business against one of the worst teams in the NHL.
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