Despite COVID-19 continuing to wreak havoc on the NHL schedule, we are still lucky to have some games on today that aren’t postponed. We are loving the action throughout this impressive NHL season so far. As we move towards the mid way point in the season, each division’s ladder is starting to take shape. Every single win or loss can have a significant impact on where each team will finish at the end of the season, so it is important that you don’t miss any of the action!
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Look below to find our free NHL picks, as we preview the three games on today’s schedule.
Dallas Stars @ Florida Panthers – 7.00PM ET
The first of the three games in Friday night’s slate will see the Dallas Stars face off against the Florida Panthers. The Stars have won five of their last six games, and this includes wins over the Blackhawks, Wild, Panthers, Penguins and Kraken. The Panthers have won six of their last seven games, with their only loss coming against the team they are playing tonight, the Stars, 3-4, in overtime.
The Florida Panthers will face one of the worst teams on the road this season – the Dallas Stars. The Panthers lead the Eastern Conference with 53 points from 36 matches which almost surely means that they will make the Playoffs. Now, they will need to focus on getting to as good a place as possible in order to have the easiest path towards the Stanley Cup. The team has been quite dominant in offense, scoring 142 goals which makes them second-best behind the Colorado Avalanche. A total of 7 players have scored at least 10 goals for the Panthers which means that they have a great depth in attack. Led by Jonathan Huberdeau, Aaron Ekblad, and Sam Reinhard, the Panthers will surely be favorites to win it all at the end of the season.
The Dallas Stars would have had an advantage if the game was played in the American Airlines Center. However, as guests, they have been quite terrible during this campaign. They have lost their last 5 matches on the road which means that they are now last in the West in terms of away games. The Stars are 10th in the overall standings as they still have a decent chance of making the Playoffs. The team has quite a conservative approach this season relying much on their patience and defensive strength. However, I don’t think this will work against the Florida Panthers who are simply unstoppable offensively at the moment. Therefore, I will suggest you pick Florida not only as a final winner, but also as a team that will cover its spread.
Denis’ NHL Pick: Florida Panthers -1.5 (+118)
The Dallas Stars come into this game with a record of 18-13-2 through their first 33 games on the season. They are currently in fifth place in the Central Division and on the outside looking in for a playoff spot as the season approaches the halfway mark. However they have won five out of their last six games, including a victory that snapped a lengthy double digit Pittsburgh Penguins winning streak, earlier this month. They will need to continue picking up wins to keep up in the Central and potentially move into a wildcard slot.
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) January 13, 2022
The Florida Panthers are one of the best teams in the National Hockey League this season and it is no surprise to the people who paid attention. There was lots of preseason hype surrounding the Panthers and they have absolutely lived up to it even after having their coach fired within the first 15 games of the year. They come into this matchup at home with a record of 24-7-5 through the first 36 games of the season. They have been on a hot streak recently winning six out of their last seven games and that is something that I love to continue in this one as I have the Florida Panthers picking up the victory at home over Dallas.
Tony’s NHL Pick: Florida Panthers (-220)
The Dallas Stars made easy work of the Seattle Kraken on Wednesday, winning 5-2; making it their fifth win in six games. Now their quality of opponent takes a complete 180, as they go from worst to first, taking on the Florida Panthers in South Beach. Dallas won’t be the least bit intimidated; even though Florida has been one of the top teams in the NHL this season, the Stars just beat them last Thursday—which was Florida’s only loss in almost a month. A big part of the Stars win in that game was the play by Denis Gurianov, who racked up three points, but for this go-around, Gurianov will be sidelined in COVID protocol. Still, Dallas has had players both young and old step up recently after a slow offensive start to the season. Veteran Joe Pavelski leads the team with 35 points, but right behind him with 32 points is 22-year-old winger Jason Robertson. The Stars will look to keep their rise in the Central Division on Friday night against an Atlantic Division leading Florida Panthers squad.
Is it finally the Florida Panthers year? They currently sit tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning atop the Atlantic Division, but hold the tiebreaker due to head-to-head advantage. They’ll look to further that lead against Dallas on Friday night. Florida might’ve lost a close call when they played the Stars last week, but they rebounded nicely, taking out Metropolitan Division leaders the Carolina Hurricanes and then made easy work of the Vancouver Canucks. Now they’ll get a shot at redemption against the Stars in South Beach. While Florida has one of the NHL’s top offenses, they have been far from perfect on defense: this was evident in their last matchup against the Stars. Still, with this one being at FLA Live Arena, where the Panthers are 19-3-0, I think the Panthers get payback.
Michael’s NHL Pick: Florida Panthers (-220)
Anaheim Ducks @ Minnesota Wild – 8.00PM ET
In the middle game on Friday night we will see the Anaheim Ducks hit the ice and take on the Minnesota Wild. The Ducks have only won two of their last eight games, and this takes their season record to 19-13-7. The Wild are currently on a two game winning streak, with wins over the Bruins and Capitals.
The Minnesota Wild managed to stop their 5-game losing streak with a win over the Boston Bruins. Then, they overcame the Washington Capitals’ challenge in Xcel Energy Center with the same final score, 3-2. This helped them keep their position in the top 6 of the Western Conference. They are currently in 6th place with 44 points out of 33 matches. The team is in the tough and highly competitive Central Division where they will need to put in a lot of effort to finish in the top 4. The Dallas Stars and the Winnipeg Jets are right behind them in the standings as they are waiting for even the slightest mistake from the teams ahead of them.
The Anaheim Ducks will have an even tougher task reaching the Playoffs, since they are in one division with the likes of the Golden Knights, the Los Angeles Kings, and the San Jose Sharks. On top of that, 5th and 6th place are occupied by the two Canadian teams, the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers, who started off this season brilliantly. In my opinion, they are still favorites to make the Playoffs, despite falling back in points so far. The Anaheim Ducks have played quite a lot of games and they will need to increase their advantage against their rivals. I would say that there is a high chance of them getting a win tomorrow, since the Minnesota Wild won’t be able to use some players due to COVID-19. Hence, I will pick the Ducks as the final winners of the match.
Denis’ NHL Pick: Anaheim Ducks (+146)
The Anaheim Ducks are having an up and down season, they started off the year slow, before exploding into a lengthy winning streak. Now they’ve gone back to looking lethargic as the season progresses towards the final few months. They come into this game with a record of 19-13-7 through their first 39 games of the season. Despite their poor record at the moment they are still in second place of the Pacific Division which highlights just how weak that division has been this season outside of Las Vegas. The Ducks come in having lost three of their last five games during the month of January. They will be looking for a big win in this one to hopefully turn around their poor form as of late.
Just a few short weeks ago they had the best record in the National Hockey League. Fast forward to now and they are treading water and sitting in fourth place of a very competitive Central Division. They are coming into this game with a record of 21-10-2 as they have missed a handful of games due to COVID-19 postponements. At some point this team from Minnesota will have a total of seven games to make up. However they play in perhaps the most competitive and best division in hockey they will need to rack up wins now rather than later. As for the result of this one, I have Minnesota doing just that, by picking up the win over the Ducks at home.
Tony’s NHL Pick: Minnesota Wild (-178)
Despite an average last ten games where they’ve gone 4-4-2, the Anaheim Ducks have continued to stay in second place in the Pacific Division, as they continue their push to the playoffs just one season after being one of the worst teams in the NHL. They’re coming off a strong 4-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have been one of the, if not the, hottest team(s) in the NHL over the last month. They’ll hope to ride that momentum into Friday’s game against a Minnesota Wild team that’s also been struggling a bit over the past month.
It wasn’t too long ago that Minnesota were sitting atop of the Central Division. But whereas they’ve gone 5-4-1 over their last ten games, their division rivals the Nashville Predators, Colorado Avalanche, and St. Louis Blues have all had significantly better records in that stretch, leading all of them to jump the Wild in the standings. Still, the Wild are looking to rise back up in the standings after two great wins against Eastern Conference contenders the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins. The Wild have produced consistent offense throughout the entire season, sitting in third in the entire NHL in goals per game. They’re also getting some clutch goaltending performances from Kaapo Kahkonen, who recently replaced the struggling Cam Talbot. This one could really be anyone’s game, but in the end I’ll give the advantage to the Wild to take the cake in front of a home crowd.
Michael’s NHL Pick: Minnesota Wild (-178)
Arizona Coyotes @ Colorado Avalanche – 9.00PM ET
We wrap up Friday night’s slate with an intriguing game between the Arizona Coyotes and the Colorado Avalanche. The Coyotes have won two of their last five games, with wins over the Blackhawks and Maple Leafs. The Avalanche had their five game winning streak snapped last time out, thanks to the Predators, 4-5, in overtime.
The game between the Colorado Avalanche and the Arizona Coyotes will represent a battle between the best and the worst team in the NHL. The Avalanche as a top favorite for winning the Stanley Cup are still 3rd in the overall standings in the Western Conference. They are, however, just 3 points away from the top spot, currently occupied by the Nashville Predators, but the Avalanche have 4 games in hand. Their offensive line is undoubtedly the best in the League by far. The multinational attack composed of players from all over the top ice-hockey nations has scored a total of 143 goals in 33 matches. Nazem Kadri, Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Valeri Nichushkin are just a small list of their options in offense.
The Arizona Coyotes are coming into this match in a high mood, following a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. They were actually dominated throughout the whole game, but in the end, they managed to outsmart the strong Canadian squad. The Coyotes are off to 2 wins in their last 3 matches in the NHL as they also defeated the Chicago Blackhawks, 6-4, marking their first victory by more than a single goal for the campaign. This anti-record of 31 matches without getting a convincing win is just enough to make them the worst team this season. They are dead last in the West with just 19 points out of 34 matches. For comparison, the Avalanche have already accumulated 11 points in January and we are still in the first part of the month. I think that anything other than a dominant victory for Colorado will be a huge surprise, so I will trust the statistics and pick the Avalanche’s spread in this game.
Denis’ NHL Pick: Colorado Avalanche -2.5 (-112)
Even after winning on Wednesday, the Arizona Coyotes are one of the worst teams in the National Hockey League and that is not going to change at any point this season. They come into this one with a record of 8-23-3, as they are 18 games below the .500 mark on the season. They are also currently occupying dead last in the Central Division and it is fair to say regardless of what happens over the next 40 something games, this is a lost season for the Coyotes. They even nearly got locked out of their own home arena because of payment issues which only further adds to the embarrassment they have displayed on the ice this year.
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) January 14, 2022
The preseason favorites are finally starting to play like it. After getting off to a slow start they really have turned it up as of late and if they can continue this momentum and level of play they will likely end up being the best team in the league by the time the playoffs come. The Avalanche come into this game with a record of 22-8-3 on the year. They are currently in second place in the Central Division. They have won five of their last seven games. As for the result of this one, I think they will make it six out of eight as I have them picking up the victory over the Arizona Coyotes at home.
Tony’s NHL Pick: Colorado Avalanche (-530)
Two teams on opposite sides of the spectrum take the ice on Friday night as the lackluster Arizona Coyotes and their second worst goals per game average face the best offensive team in hockey, the Colorado Avalanche. But, you can’t ever count the Coyotes out; they have won three of their last six, including a huge 2-1 win over a Toronto Maple Leafs team that’s one of the best in the NHL. They’ve seen some positive play from an array of players, ranging from young talent like Lawson Crouse to veterans like Johan Larsson and Shayne Gostisbehere. They’ll look to grab another positive result against the Colorado Avalanche in their first of two consecutive games against the Denver club.
Colorado continue to get goals galore, scoring 20 of them in their past four games. Even without captain Gabriel Landeskog—who has missed the last two games in COVID protocol—the Avalanche have had no problem finding the back of the net. Their issue has been defending their own. They barely escaped a bad Seattle Kraken team 4-3 on Monday and then lost 4-5 to a first place Nashville Predators team that sits in front of them in the Central Division. If Colorado is serious about making a Stanley Cup run in 2022, they can’t rely solely on their offense to get them there. They’ll need their defense to play a bit more consistently. While the Coyotes are fully capable of pulling off an upset, I don’t see it happening in a game where the Avalanche will be looking to put their heartbreaking OT loss to the Preds behind them. Give me the Avs to cover.
Michael’s NHL Pick: Colorado Avalanche -2.5 (-112)
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of writing, courtesy of FanDuel.