Despite COVID-19 wreaking 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 best five games on today’s schedule.
Pittsburgh Penguins @ Dallas Stars – 2.00PM ET
The road trip continues on for the Pittsburgh Penguins and on Saturday afternoon they take on the Dallas Stars. The Penguins’ winning streak has now reached double digits, as it is currently at 10, and this takes their season record to 20-8-5. The Stars are currently on a three game winning streak, with wins over the Blackhawks, Wild and Panthers.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have been the best team in December. They are on a 10-game winning streak, starting with a win over the Vancouver Canucks on December 5th. Sidney Crosby’s return has been marvelous and his impact on the team was once again felt. On top of that, Bryan Rust and Evan Rodrigues are also on the spot when the Penguins needed them most. This fantastic run compensated for their clumsy performance in the beginning of the season. They are now securely in 7th place in the East with 45 points out of 33 games. The Penguins have managed to level up their game in defense as well, as the team concedes fewer goals than before.
The Dallas Stars are surely an incredible team at home. They have won 11 out of their last 12 games played in the American Airlines Center. The Stars are also coming into this game on a 3-game winning streak as they got the better of the Chicago Blackhawks, the Minnesota Wild, and the Florida Panthers. They still have a decent shot at the Playoffs, but are out of the zone that can guarantee them a spot. The Stars will need to level up their game, if they would like to contest for one of the top 4 places in the Central Division. I think that this match is quite unpredictable, so I will trust both teams’ playing styles and go for the option for “under points”.
Denis’ NHL Pick: Under 6 (-110)
The Pittsburgh Penguins have been the hottest team in the National Hockey League as of late. As their impressive winning streak has reached a total of 10 and doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. As they continue their road trip in Dallas the goal will remain the same and that is simply just to continue to play hard and pick up wins. The streak has improved their record all the way to 20-8-5 on the season as well. In the process, they have catapulted all the way up the ladder in the Metropolitan Division, as they find themselves in fourth place, which on the surface seems bad. But they have closed the gap with the top three teams. For an added bonus as well, Sidney Crosby is playing like his old self again which is always a great thing for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
With a goal and four assists the past two games, Denis Gurianov is leaving his mark.
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) January 7, 2022
The Dallas Stars come into this game with a record of 16-12-2 on the season. They are currently in sixth place in the very competitive and crowded Central Division. Dallas is currently playing decent hockey as they won their last two before the extended break and their first game back over a tough Florida Panthers team. Now they will have another tough task against this streaking Penguins team, luckily for them at home. However I think the momentum of the Pens will be too much to overcome as I have the Pittsburgh Penguins picking up the win on the road.
Tony’s NHL Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins (-132)
The Pittsburgh Penguins continued to be the hottest team in the NHL as they won their tenth straight game on Thursday against the Philadelphia Flyers, skating to an easy 6-2 victory. After starting the season injured, Sidney Crosby’s return has, unsurprisingly lifted the Penguins to a new level. But, I’m not sure anyone saw this dominant of a win streak happening. Crosby has continued to be a great facilitator, but the team has gotten some excellent goal production from the likes of Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust. They’ll look to keep things going to 11, as they take on a Dallas Stars team in the Lone Star State.
After an impressive six-game win streak in November, the Dallas Stars have slipped back to sixth place in the Central Division. But a 6-5 win against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, might just have been what they needed to kick things back into gear. The Stars inconsistencies have been their downfall, but a win against Pittsburgh, after their Florida victory could lead them in the right direction. That being said, it’s going to take a little more for me to bet against the Penguins right now. There’s no doubt Dallas can end the streak, but I’m just not totally convinced.
Michael’s NHL Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins (-132)
Toronto Maple Leafs @ Colorado Avalanche – 7.00PM ET
The Toronto Maple Leafs kick off their road trip on Saturday night when they take on the Colorado Avalanche, who are in the middle of their three game homestand. The Maple Leafs are currently on a four game winning streak, which takes their season record to 22-8-2. The Avalanche are currently on a three game winning streak, as they have wins over the Ducks, Blackhawks and Jets.
Both the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Colorado Avalanche have been performing on a spectacular level recently. Despite the fact that they are still outside the top 4 in their respective Conference, the two teams are huge troubles for their opponents. Auston Matthews and William Nylander led their team to a fantastic 10-1 run in November and are now the primary reasons for their four straight wins. The Maple Leafs defeated Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid and their Edmonton Oilers twice in their last 4 games. This gave them a small push as they only managed to close the gap to the leaders. Toronto remains 6th in the East with 46 points from 32 games, standing 5 points behind the top spot, occupied by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Avalanche, on the other hand, proved that they will surely be a top favorite to win the title this year. Their most recent 8-1 run with wins over the New York Rangers, the Florida Panthers, and the Anaheim Ducks stated once again their huge ambitions for the end of the season. They might still be 5th in the West, but compared to everyone else around them, they have around 4-5 games in hand. The team continues to be a nightmare for the opposition’s defense as they have scored a total 130 goals for just 30 matches which is an incredible achievement. I think we will see a tight contest, but I will give my preferences to the Avalanche who also have the benefit of a home ice advantage.
Denis’ NHL Pick: Colorado Avalanche (-170)
The Toronto Maple Leafs will be heading south of the USA/Canada border to kickoff a road trip this weekend. Their first stop is in Denver as they will take on the preseason favorites for the Stanley Cup, the Colorado Avalanche. The Maple Leafs come into this game with a record of 22-8-2 through their first 32 games of the season. This will also be a four game road trip full of tough teams like Las Vegas and St. Louis as well as the Avalanche. Toronto currently sits in third place of the Atlantic Division, five points behind the first place Tampa Bay Lightning. So every point they can get on this trip will be huge.
The previously mentioned Colorado Avalanche were surrounded by a ton of preseason hype. Out of the gate they looked overrated but as of late they have really stepped up their level of play. As they will come into this game with a record of 20-8-2 through their first 30 games of the season. As the season approaches the halfway mark it is fair to say they are every bit of the contenders they were looked at to be. As for the result of this game, I have them picking up the victory at home over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Tony’s NHL Pick: Colorado Avalanche (-170)
In a battle between offense and defense the NHL’s highest scoring team, the Colorado Avalanche, take on the team with the huge save percentage in the NHL in the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Avalanche’s offense has continued to strike fear in opponents across the league and Thursday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets was a shining example as they won 7-1. In recent years, the Avalanche have been recognized for their three-headed offensive monster in Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Mikko Rantanen; those three didn’t disappoint on Thursday, racking up 12 points between the three of them. But this season the Avalanche are making it a four-headed monster as forward Nazem Kadri has gotten in on the fun as well. The Avalanche will look to keep things rolling against a Maple Leafs squad that has been excellent on defense this year.
A big part of Toronto’s breakthrough defense has been American goalie Jack Campbell, who is arguably the Vezina front-runner. Campbell leads starting goalies in goals against average and save percentage as he’s had a dominant breakout season. He’ll have his hands full on Saturday against this juggernaut Avalanche offense. Even though defense normally wins big games, I’m reluctant to pick the Leafs on the road. I know they beat the Avalanche badly on December 1(8-3), but I think the Avalanche have been a different team since then, and this game at the Pepsi Centre will be an ample opportunity for payback.
Michael’s NHL Pick: Colorado Avalanche (-170)
Florida Panthers @ Carolina Hurricanes – 7.00PM ET
The Florida Panthers short two game road trip comes to an end on Saturday when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes. The Panthers had their four game winning streak snapped last time out, as they lost to the Stars, 5-6, in a shootout. The Hurricanes are playing on back-to-back nights, and last time out they won, 6-3, against the Flames.
The Florida Panthers will travel to a well-known location – Carolina, Raleigh. Apart from them, there was only one more team that started off this season in a perfect way and that was the Hurricanes. The Panthers became the first squad to defeat Carolina this year. The game ended 5-2 as Anthony Duclair was the most valuable player on the ice for Florida. He scored twice and gave two more assists to help his team snap the 9-game winning streak of their opponents. They haven’t faced each other for more than two months already and lots of things have changed in the course of the season. However, one thing remains the same and that is their presence at the top of the table in the Eastern Conference.
The Panthers are 3rd with 49 points from 34 games, while the Hurricanes occupy 2nd place with the same number of points, but with two matches in hand. This will be a battle between the best attack and the best defense in the NHL. Florida has scored 133 goals, while Carolina tops the standings when it comes to defending with just 69 goals conceded. Both teams are coming into this fixture on fantastic runs as the Panthers won 4 straight games after the Christmas break, despite losing their last match against the Dallas Stars on the road. The Hurricanes, on the other hand, enjoyed a 9-1 run recently that really helped them climb the leaderboard. I think that the show will prevail in the end and we will see plenty of goals for the 60 minutes of playing time.
Denis’ NHL Pick: Over (-106)
This is going to be by far the best game of the weekend slate as two of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference and the entire National Hockey League will square off. The Florida Panthers come into this game with a record of 22-7-5 through their first 34 games on the season. It is one of the best records in the league, and they don’t look to be stopping anytime soon. Florida has won four of its five games they have played since coming back from the extended break, as they will be looking to respond to a loss in their last game against Dallas.
The fellas had some fun tonight! pic.twitter.com/y0XZKz1bgm
— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) January 8, 2022
This game will be the second game of a back to back for the Carolina Hurricanes. In the first game they picked up a win over the Calgary Flames by a score of 6-3. The victory improved their record on the season to 24-7-1 through their first 32 games on the year. It also extended their current winning streak to five games. As for the result of this game, I have the Hurricanes picking their sixth straight victory as well at home.
Tony’s NHL Pick: Carolina Hurricanes (-113)
The Carolina Hurricanes are coming off a big 6-3 win against the Calgary Flames. The Flames have been one of the top defensive teams this season, so Carolina will definitely celebrate their six goals. This win bumped them into first place in the Metropolitan Division. They’ll hope to improve upon that standing Saturday in a playoff-worthy matchup against the Florida Panthers.
Florida came out of the league’s pause on fire, scoring 24 goals in their first four games back. In their fifth game on Thursday they kept the scoring going, tallying five goals, but they also gave up six, ultimately losing to the Dallas Stars. They’ll hope to keep their high octane offense going on Saturday against the NHL’s best defensive team in the Carolina Hurricanes. But, the Hurricanes have also been hitting an offensive high in recent games scoring 32 goals in the last five games. I’ll go with the ‘Canes—they’re just too on fire on both sides of the puck right now
Michael’s NHL Pick: Carolina Hurricanes (-113)
Boston Bruins @ Tampa Bay Lightning – 7.00PM ET
The Boston Bruins kick off their two game road trip when they face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bruins had their three game winning streak snapped last time out, with a loss to the Wild. The Lightning are currently on a two game winning streak, with wins over the Blue Jackets and Flames.
The Boston Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning will be yet another compelling meeting on Saturday night in the NHL. The two teams from the Eastern Conference will go head-to-head for a second time this season. Their first meeting ended up with a draw as the Lightning took the win after overtime, 3-2. In the last five times when there was a tie in regulation, Tampa has gone on to win it. This only comes to prove their confidence and focus in the most clutch moments in recent years. The Lightning are coming into this match after two convincing victories over the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Calgary Flames. They put an end to their 3-game losing streak right after Christmas as the most recent performance kept them ahead of everybody else in the East.
The Bruins still have 6 games in hand when compared to their upcoming opponent. For their 30 matches, they have managed to accumulate a total of 36 points which is a decent achievement, but still enough only for 8th place. Even if we look into the standings in terms of average points won, they will continue to be 8th. The thing that most likely keeps them relaxed is the awful situation within the Atlantic Division. It seems that the Bruins will fight off with the Red Wings for the last spot and we all know the strength of Detroit in the current situation. The Bruins snapped a 3-game winning streak with a loss to the Minnesota Wild in their last game at home. I think they will suffer yet another disappointing performance against the Lighting, so I will give my preferences to the reigning champions.
Denis’ NHL Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning -1.5 (+138)
The Boston Bruins are coming into this game with a record of 17-11-2 through their first 30 games of the season. Prior to the beginning of the year this season was viewed as a potential last ride for their aging core and it certainly has not gone according to plan. Up until this point Boston has looked pretty average as they are hardly treading water in a loaded Eastern Conference this season. However they have won three of their last four games so things may be looking up for now, but time will tell if that level of play holds. They currently find themselves in fourth place of the Atlantic Division as they take on the current division leaders in this one.
The previously mentioned Tampa Bay Lightning are finally starting to look like the two time defending Stanley Cup champions they are, as the season approaches the halfway point. They are coming into this game as the leaders of a competitive Atlantic Division and with a record of 23-8-5 which is one of the best in the National Hockey League. They are also currently on a two game winning streak. As for the result of this one, I look for the Lightning to extend that streak to three with a victory at home.
Tony’s NHL Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning (-188)
The Boston Bruins came out of the gate hot in the new year. They won three games in a row, giving them the push they needed to get back into the playoff standings. Unfortunately they couldn’t make it four, they fell to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday 2-3. They’ll look to hang onto their playoff hopes tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Tampa Bay’s new year went completely differently than the Bruins. They struggled to beat a bad Montreal Canadiens team and then were absolutely swatted by their rivals the Florida Panthers and then dropped two straight to the New York Rangers. But like any great team, they handled the adversity with ease. They bounced back, beating the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-2 and the Calgary Flames 4-1. Now they’ll look to continue their winning ways against the Bruins. It seems like the Lightning have figured it out. Every once in a while they seem to check out, but in a potential playoff matchup against the Bruins I’ll pick Tampa to prevail.
Michael’s NHL Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning (-188)
Washington Capitals @ Minnesota Wild – 8.00PM ET
The Washington Capitals wrap up their road trip on Saturday night when they take on the Minnesota Wild. The Capitals are playing on back-to-back nights, as they played the Blues last night and lost, 1-5. The Wild were good enough last time out to finally snap their five game losing streak, with a win over the Bruins, 3-2.
The Minnesota Wild have been terrible recently, but managed to escape the void with a victory over the Boston Bruins on the road. The team from the West suffered a 5-game losing streak as they lost to some teams that don’t have huge ambitions for this season. The Los Angeles Kings, the Buffalo Sabres, and the Dallas Stars took advantage of the decline in their performance and got the 2 points eventually. They have a couple of injuries that have some impact on the team. Kiril Kaprizov, Jared Spurgeon, Jordan Greenway, and Joel Eriksson will miss the game against the Washington Capitals. The team will look to get its maiden victory in Xcel Energy Center for 2022.
The Capitals won’t make it easy for Minnesota, but they also have some problems that they will need to deal with first. Backstrom, Oshie, and McMichael are still uncertain for the game, and will most likely miss it. The Capitals are still in a good spot in the East, having 48 points that have been accumulated through 35 games. They are one of the highest scoring teams in the NHL with 120 goals scored. However, these internal issues have picked up and they lost to the New Jersey Devils and the St. Louis Blues in their last meetings. I think that we might see another loss for the Washington Capitals who seem to be struggling at the moment. I will confidently choose the Minnesota Wild as the final winner of this game.
Denis’ NHL Pick: Minnesota Wild (+106)
The Washington Capitals took a big loss to the St. Louis Blues by a score of 1-5 on Friday night. The loss dropped their record to 20-7-8 on the season through their first 35 games of the year. Now they will be looking to bounce back in this second game of a back to back against another Central Division team, the Minnesota Wild. Despite the loss, Washington is still very much a threat this year. Make no mistakes about it, as long as Alexander Ovechkin is on the ice this team is dangerous. His play will likely dictate the outcome in this game as well.
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) January 8, 2022
The Minnesota Wild were on top of the National Hockey League world just a few short weeks ago. However they have since slid back down closer to everyone else. They are coming into this game with a record of 20-10-2 through their first 32 games on the season. Minnesota beat the Boston Bruins in their last game by a score of 3-2. Now they will be looking to turn their winning streak into two games with a win here. As for the result of this game, I have the Wild picking up the victory at home.
Tony’s NHL Pick: Minnesota Wild (+106)
After an eight game win streak that rocketed them to first in the Central Division, the Minnesota Wild have struggled a bit, now sitting at fourth place. Luckily they scored a big win against the Boston Bruins on Thursday, that hopefully will send them back in the right direction.
They’ll have to face one of the NHL’s top offensive squads: the Washington Capitals. The Caps have been struggling lately, they were upset by an inferior New Jersey Devils team on Sunday and then were dominated by the St. Louis Blues last night losing 1-5. Now, 24 hours later they’ll have to travel to the Twin Cities to take on a Wild team that’s trying to turn a corner and get back to the top of their division. Still, the Capitals aren’t a team to fall into a losing streak, I think they’ll take that major loss to the Blues as a slap in the face and make sure their offense gets back on track on Saturday to break their small skid.
Michael’s NHL Pick: Washington Capitals (-128)
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of writing, courtesy of FanDuel.