Monday Night Hockey Picks for March 13
Another week begins in the NHL and that means another seven days of awesome hockey to bet on. The regular season is in its dog days and each game means higher and higher stakes for playoff bound teams. Some are just trying to get in while others are trying to improve their seeding and it all makes for some incredible hockey.
As teams get more comfortable like Washington, Minnesota, Chicago, etc it’s important to keep an eye on any night the club might rest their players. As they clinch playoff spots, teams are more likely to sit some of their key guys and that can open the door wide open for an upset. Make sure to check before game time for any changes and as always, we’re here to set you up beforehand. Let’s get to it!
- St. Louis (+135) at LA (-165)
For our feature game we head out west where the Blues and Kings are in a dogfight for the final Wild Card spot out west. St. Louis currently has a three game lead on LA for the spot with both teams having played the same number of games. The Blues are on the road where they’re just 15-16-1 this season but have been playing well since their brutal five game losing streak with four straight wins and are back to 5-5-0 in their last ten games after holding on to beat the Islanders 4-3.
LA has been better as of late with two straight wins including arguably their biggest win of the year on Saturday night. They handed the Capitals their third straight loss in a 4-2 win and look prepared to finally make a serious run at the playoffs with just 15 games left. The Kings are 5-3-2 in their last ten games and have their goal differential back up to an even 0 compared to the Blues’ -3.
This amounts to a four point swing for both teams and if the Kings lose they’ll find themselves a full five points behind the Blues with a huge uphill battle to climb. With the stakes higher than ever it’s time to gear up for a huge game.
The Blues enter LA with the league’s 15th ranked offense in the world. They’re averaging 2.78 goals a game and while they’d love to improve that number it’s kept them in a playoff spot at this point of the season. The Blues are coming off back to back four goal games against some strong opponents in the Islanders and the Ducks and their offense is starting to pick up steam at just the right time.
They’re still incredibly dependant on the production of Vladimir Tarasenko but his 61 points in 67 games have more than lived up to the hype. When Tarasenko produces, his team seems to score and that’s exactly where they find themselves right now. He has five points in his last three games with four goals during that span and as long as he stays hot the Blues are one of the hardest teams in the league to beat.
Jaden Schwartz has been in the league a long time for a 24 year old and after a shortened season last year appears to have found his touch again. He’s second on the Blues with 43 points this season and is currently enjoying a four game point streak with four assists during that span. He’ll need to stay sharp to support Tarasenko if the Blues want to hold on to that final Wild Card spot.
In LA, the Kings have had trouble scoring all season long. They average just 2.51 goals a game which ranks a brutal 24th in the NHL. That type of production will rarely get a team into the postseason and as it stands right now they’re set to miss the spring dance. With that being said they’ve picked up their scoring lately and their four goals against the league’s best defense in their last outing is a good sign of things to come.
Like St. Louis the Kings often rely on the production of one player. That player is Jeff Carter who’s 59 points this season lead the team by a mile. His 31 goals rank among the best in the NHL and at age 32 has already scored more goals than he has in the last seven seasons. His resurgence has been huge for the Kings and LA would be dead to rights without him.
Carter has a goal and two assists during the Kings’ two game win streak and he’ll need to finish strong if LA wants to sneak into the playoffs. It can’t all come down to Carter though and he’ll need some help. Look no further than the Kings’ captain Anze Kopitar who has had a disappointing season by his standards but picked up his pace lately. He’s up to 40 points on the year with a goal and an assist in his last game and if he can find his stride the Kings could be very dangerous down the stretch.
While the Kings struggle to score this year they’re excellent at stopping the puck. LA ranks 5th in goals allowed per game giving up just 2.51. They also give up the fewest shots per game at 25.85 and have the third best penalty kill. If LA can find some scoring in their last 15 games they can quickly turn into one of the hardest teams in the league to beat.
Drew Doughty continues to lead this team from the blue line and has started to pick it up offensively with a three game point streak as well. His eight goals aren’t enough right now and Doughty knows he’ll need to start pushing the pace on offense a bit more despite being a defenseman if the Kings want to start putting some numbers on the scoreboard.
The Blues are having difficulties stopping the puck this season with just the 16th ranked unit allowing 2.82 goals a game but they’ve been stronger during their win streak. In their last four games, St. Louis has given up just seven goals and are starting to adjust to life with Kevin Shattenkirk.
After trading their stud away at the deadline, the Blues have relied on Alex Pietrangelo to pick up most of the slack. He’s answered the call recently with a three game point streak of his own and is up to nine goals and 34 points on the year. He’ll be asked to check Carter all night while trying to chip in offensively and it’s going to be a good battle between him and Doughty on Monday night.
The Kings seemed to do the unthinkable when they traded away Peter Budaj who had been excellent for them all season to grab Ben Bishop but now have two of the best goalies in the league. It’s still Jonathan Quick’s team and he’s been strong lately.
Quick has won three straight after stopping 17 of the 19 shots against the high scoring Capitals and is starting to settle in after missing almost all of the season with an injury. When he gets going there’s few goalies better in the NHL.
The Blues counter with Jake Allen who gave up three goals against the Ducks in his last outing but has also won three straight and improved his record to 25-18-3. He owns a 2.58 goals against average with a .908 save percentage and will need to sharp against a desperate Kings team.
Jeff Carter against Vladimir Tarasenko. There may not be two other playoff bound teams who rely on the production of one player as much as the Blues and Kings do. Both Tarasenko and Carter not only drive the offense, but they make up almost all of it and are instrumental to their teams’ success. Whoever gets the better of the other may very well lift their team to a win.
The Blues are playing well right now but the Kings are back at home after coming off a huge win against the Capitals to boost their confidence. They’re getting decent odds in their own building and that’s enough for us to trust them. Take LA on the spread.
- Columbus (-135) at Philadelphia (+105)
It’s do or die time for the Flyers as they watch their playoff hopes slip away with each passing game. Philadelphia is now six points behind the Leafs for the final Wild Card spot and it won’t get any easier with only 15 games left on their schedule and a date with Columbus on Sunday.
The Jackets are coming off an upsetting loss of their own against the Sabres when they were handled 5-3 but are still third in the stacked Metropolitan Division and are now just three points behind the Capitals for top spot in the East. They’re 6-3-1 in their last ten games and have done away with any notions that they were just a team that got lucky with their 16 game win streak earlier in the year.
Columbus is also strong on the road where they own an 18-9-5 record on the season. They’re 8-2-0 in their last ten games against Philadelphia but just narrowly beat them 2-1 in their last contest. The Jackets gave up five goals to the Sabres and will need to be sharp against a desperate Philly team that can fill it up in a hurry.
The Flyers have lost two straight though and their offense has dried up with just two goals over both those games. After starting off the season on a tear Claude Giroux has cooled down to the tune of 48 points in 67 games. The 29 year old is still one of the most dominant players in hockey when he’s on though and may have found his stride during a three game point streak,
Sergei Bobrovsky against Wayne Simmonds. Bobrovsky stopped 29 of 32 shots in his last outing for his foutth straight win and hasn’t lost in regulation in six straight games. He’s now an excellent 36-13-4 and enters this game with a 2.07 goals against average and a .930 save percentage. He’s firmly in the conversation for the Vezina Trophy but will need to be sharp against Simmons. The Flyers’ sniper has 28 goals on the season but just one in his last five. He’s due.
Philly is getting great odds despite playing at home. The Flyers need this win way more than the Jackets do and we expect them to turn in a good performance. Take Philadelphia on the spread.
- Tampa Bay (n/a) at New York (n/a)
Here come the Lightning! We and the rest of the hockey world wrote Tampa off after they traded away some of their best players at the deadline and were several points out of a playoff spot but thanks to some incredible team hockey lately the Lightning are suddenly just three points behind the Leafs in the Eastern Conference.
They’ve won two straight games after slipping by a good Panthers team 3-2 and are now 7-2-1 in their last ten games. With only the Islanders in front of them Tampa has a very real shot of making it into the postseason despite all the injuries they’ve suffered and trades they’ve made this season.
It won’t be easy for them to continue their rise when they travel to New York for a date with the Rangers though. The Broadway Blueshirts are a full 12 points ahead of the Leafs for the final Wild Card spot and still within striking distance of the Penguins and Jackets for second and third place in the Metropolitan Division. They’re coming off a rare loss at the hands of the Hurricanes but are still 5-4-1 in their last ten and playing at home where they own a 19-14-2 record this season.
As intimidating as that may seem, the Lightning don’t seem afraid of anyone these days thanks mainly to Nikita Kucherov. Tampa’s best player all season long is up to 67 points in just 60 games thanks to four points over his last two games including three goals. When Kucherov shows up his team seems to win and the Rangers will have to be careful all night.
Antti Raanta against Nikita Kucherov. With Henrik Lundqvist battling an injury until the end of March the net belongs to Raanta now. He has a 13-6-0 record with a 2.32 goals against average and a .922 save percentage but will need to be sharp against Kucherov’s skill.
Tampa seems to have found a formula for success and with no expectations or pressure on them they’re playing some of their best hockey of the season. They’re also getting excellent odds thanks to being on the road and we love the action. Take the Lightning on the spread.
- Carolina (+120) at New York (-150)
There’s no way around it, the Hurricanes have had a tough year. Despite their excellent home record they could never figure out how to win on the road and are now virtually eliminated from the playoffs as they sit 11 points out of the final Wild Card spot. They lost another heartbreaker in overtime to the Leafs 3-2 after leading two separate times in the game and are now 3-4-3 in their last ten games.
They need to bring their 8-17-8 record on the road to battle an Islanders team that is in a huge race for the final spot in the East with the Leafs. New York just came off a 4-3 loss to St. Louis but are back at home where they’re 20-8-6 this season. The Islanders have won just five of their last ten against the Canes and dropped their last game 5-4 back in early February but are a much more desperate team now and will do everything they can to take care of business at home.
John Tavares has been excellent for the Islanders all season but has been getting some more help lately as well. Josh Bailey is now second on the team in points with 49 and has five points in his last four games including a three assist night against the Canucks. If he can keep setting up his teammates the Islanders should be able to handle Carolina at home.
Thomas Greiss against Cam Ward. Greiss has been shaky since his run of dominance earlier in the year and gave up four goals on just 18 shots against the Blues. He’ll need to be much sharper to get his team back in the win column but his competition won’t be too severe with the way Ward is playing. Carolina’s goalie gave up a weak goal in overtime against the Leafs and has watched his stats plummet this season.
The odds aren’t great but the Islanders know how important it is to win at home against a struggling squad like the Hurricanes. Take New York on the spread.
- Winnipeg (+135) at Nashville (-165)
The Jets gave it their all but ultimately it doesn’t feel like it was enough as Winnipeg is now nine points out of a playoff spot thanks to some recent poor play. They’ve lost three straight games after being shutout 3-0 by the red-hot Calgary Flames and are now just 4-4-2 in their last ten games.
With the Kings in front of them it looks like it might be the end of the line for a team that showed so much promise earlier in the season but their young stars are still more than capable of winning one game and Nashville will have to be ready. The Predators are in great shape after a big win over the Sharks and are now 5-2-3 in their last ten games and holding a lead over the Blues for the third spot in the Central Division
Nashville has been excellent at home this season with a 19-8-7 record in their own building and now have their goal differential up to +8 on the season. Their scoring was a problem earlier in the year but they’ve averaged 3.6 goals over their last ten games. Now they get to go up against a Winnipeg defense that is ranked a dismal 27th on the year and gives up 3.17 goals a game.
Patrik Laine against Filip Forsberg. The Jets may be all but out of the playoffs but that doesn’t mean Patrik Laine is going to let up scoring on opposing goalies. He’s in a dog fight with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner for rookie of the year and currently leads both in scoring by five and four points respectively. He has just one more goal than Matthews and will be set on trying to improve his resume as the season winds down. That means going up against Forsberg who has cooled down as of late but was the best player in hockey a week ago with two hat tricks. He’s just 22 year old and due for another scoring barrage.
The Jets are slumping while the Predators are just trying to keep the Blues off their tail. Take Nashville at home on the spread where they’ve been excellent against everyone all season long.
- Pittsburgh (-125) at Calgary (-105)
Dear rest of the league, Calgary is here and they’re taking no prisoners. The Flames started off the year strong but faltered around the all-star break and many pundits began to write them off. Now they’ve won nine straight after shutting out the Jets 3-0 and suddenly look like the best team in hockey. They’ll get another tough test when the Penguins comes to town but the Flames are 9-0-1 in their last ten and leapfrogged Edmonton and Anaheim to land in second place in the Pacific Division out West last week and look destined for a strong playoff run.
The Penguins hit the road with a big streak of their own. Pittsburgh has won five straight after shutting out eh Canucks 3-0 and are now just one point behind the suddenly slumping Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division and first place in the Eastern Conference overall.
Pittsburgh is dealing with more injuries than you can shake a stick at but it hardly matters when they have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Crosby is up to 72 points on the season and just three points behind McDavid for the scoring lead despite playing six less games while Malkin is just one point behind Crosby and picking up his game lately as well.
The Flames aren’t going to be intimidated however thanks to their nine game win streak and they have some players of their own who are enjoying a good run. Johnny Gaudreau may just be five foot nine but his scoring does all the talking and he now has five points in his last three games. He scored a goal and grabbed three assists in a huge win against Montreal and it looks like he’ll be on fire until the end of the season.
Sidney Crosby against Brian Elliot. Crosby knows how important a number one seed is overall and with his Penguins just one point behind the Capitals he’ll be doing everything he can to push his team over the edge. That means beating Elliot in net. The Flames’ goalie just grabbed his first shutout of the season against the Jets and is now enjoying an eight game win streak with a save percentage over .940 during that span. Wow.
If the Flames are going to lose it’s going to come against a team like the Penguins. Pittsburgh is streaking as well and getting great odds on the road. You don’t hear “Pittsburgh” and “great odds” very often so take the Penguins on the spread.
- Colorado (+120) at Arizona (-150)
There’s virtually nothing to play for when either of these teams take the ice in the Desert on Sunday but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some money to be made. Colorado has been on a different level when it comes to ineptitude this season and they’re now a brutal 19-45-3 on the season. They’re coming off another loss at the hands of the Senators and are 3-7-0 over their last ten games.
Now they hit the road with their 9-23-1 record away from their own building to take on an Arizona team that is at least putting in a decent effort most nights. They just beat the Devils 5-4 and are 4-5-1 in their last ten games. They’re a full 15 points ahead of the Avalanche and while they’re the second worst team in the West it’s unfair to lump them in with the Avs.
Arizona has shown promising signs of being better when next season kicks off and that’s always a good sign as the season winds down with young players trying to make a name for themselves. Max Domi is just 22 years old and while injuries have limited him to 44 games he still has 29 points. He has three points over his last five and will try to finish the season strong.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson against Matt Duchene. Ekman-Larsson was supposed to be the Coyotes’ great hope this season and while he’s done his best, his -25 on the year is an awful stat for a young defenseman trying to gain some confidence. Hopefully he can pick some of that confidence back up when he tries to lock down Duchene. The Avs’ forward hasn’t recorded a point in ten games in what is turning into an ugly end of the year.
Take Arizona on the spread. The Coyotes may be a bad team this year but they’re infinitely better than the Avalanche right now.
- Boston (-200) at Vancouver (+165)
The Bruins have been one of the most consistent teams in the East since firing their head coach but even consistency can’t put you in the clear in the crowded Eastern Conference. Boston has won two straight games after double up Philadelphia 2-1 in their last outing but are still just two points ahead of the Leafs in the Atlantic Division thanks to three straight wins from Toronto.
Boston is 7-3-0 in their last ten games and after their game against the Canucks will have played two more games than the Toronto team chasing them. If Boston fails to grab a win in Vancouver it could be a very interesting race towards the finish line for a few teams in the East and the Bruins will need to be careful on the road.
Luckily for Boston they’re 17-12-6 away from home this season and taking on a Vancouver team that is a full ten points out of a playoff spot and coming off a 3-0 loss at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’re now just 3-4-3 in their last ten games and their goal differential of -39 is the third worst in the Western Conference. They continue to struggle to score the puck and that’s going to be a huge problem against a Boston team that is so good at stopping it.
Brad Marchand against Ryan Miller. Miller may be getting fed up after getting shelled for 47 shots and letting in two goals against the Penguins. He still has a very respectable save percentage of .917 on the year but is more cut out for a backup role at this point in his career. That means Marchand may get to score some goals on Monday night. He has 70 points in 68 games this season and is in the top ten in scoring in all of hockey.
Boston has been one of the stronger road teams in hockey this season and with the Leafs breathing down their necks they know how important a win is. Take the Bruins on the spread and hope Marchand and company score some early goals.