There are a stack of games on tonight, they are 13 of the best, and as always, we’ve got each game covered in detail below. So kick your feet up, have a read through our NHL picks, and brace yourself for another great night of ice hockey.
Pittsburgh Penguins @ New Jersey Devils – 1.00 PM EDT
Pittsburgh Penguins lost to the New Jersey Devils 3-2 on Thursday night, but the Penguins will get another chance to flex and show off their superior pedigree for this Saturday afternoon game.
The Penguins were by far the better team and dominated the game with 42 shots but backup goaltender Scott Wedgewood for the Devils literally stole this game as the Devils had no business in it. Penguins do have a key injury with Geno (Evgeni Malkin) out for a few weeks with an undisclosed injury.
Coach Sullivan on Malkin: “He’s played so well for us as of late. He’s developed a lot of chemistry with Kappy… We’re hopeful that we’ll get him back here in a timely fashion and he can continue to build on the progress that they’ve made.”
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 19, 2021
But the Penguins always found ways to step it up in the past when key players are in the nursing unit. Sidney Crosby has seven points in his last five games and his line mate Jake Guentzel has four goals in his last five games.
Mackenzie Blackwood for the Devils (who was a late scratch Thursday) should be back in net for this lopsided tilt. Blackwood’s last four starts have not been good, with only one win and a .879 save percentage.
The most encouraging statistic for the Penguins is that their power play is at 28.6% success rate! Kris Letang is back at it on quarterbacking the power play and has registered eight power play points this season.
While the Devils penalty killing is second to last at 70.7% efficiency, this is a good spot for the Penguins to make their power play look even better if they go on the man advantage.
Boston Bruins @ Buffalo Sabres – 1.00 PM EDT – Postponed
*This game was postponed due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, a new date has not been confirmed at this time*
Nashville Predators @ Florida Panthers – 2.00 PM EDT
Another example of a superior team being robbed the win because the goalie on the other team decided to step up and steal the win. The Florida Panthers had a whopping 41 shots over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night but ended up on the losing end of a final score 2-1.
The Panthers are 3-2 on the season versus the Predators this season, but the Panthers have won four of their last five games and will be determined to continue this trend.
Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has been playing his best hockey of the season in between the pipes for the Panthers with a 6-1 record over his last seven starts in net with a .916% save and a 2.71 GAA.
The Panthers are a team that creates a lot of scoring chances and are complemented by lots of shots on net as they are second in the league with an average of 34.3 shots on goal per game.
The Predators have missing personnel issues with five major injuries compiled this month in Mark Borowiecki, Matt Duchene, Ryan Ellis, Luke Kunin and captain Roman Josi.
All these players mentioned are out for Saturday’s game against the Panthers. The Predators have lost three of their last five and are starting to consider a fire sale to begin selling off their assets at the trade deadline next month.
This is not a good time for the Predators right now and unfortunately for the Predators that this game is in the early afternoon, so they won’t be able to just go to sleep after the game if the game becomes a horrible nightmare like their season thus far.
Minnesota Wild @ Colorado Avalanche – 3.00 PM EDT
This will be the encore of this two game series between the two teams. The Colorado Avalanche have been on fire as of late as this team is currently riding a five-game win streak.
The Avs top line of Nathan Mackinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen have combined for a nice haul thus far of 21 points spread out of the Avs last five games.
Likewise between the Avs pipes, goaltender Philipp Grubauer is putting together a Vezina worthy candidate type season. The German goalie is 8-2 in his last 10 games started and his over statistics across the board from his 24 games players has been very impressive! He has a 17-7-0 record, with a 1.82 GAA and a .925%.
Yeah… about that. 🤣
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) March 19, 2021
The Wild however are no pushover and deserves respect. Keep in mind that both these teams are more than familiar with one another in the wild and famed Northwest Division to the Central Division.
The Minnesota Wild had a five-game win streak of their own snapped by the Avs on Thursday night. Two of those wins on that streak were against a very good Las Vegas Golden Knights team.
The Wild are being led by rookie forward Kirill Kaprizov, who has 25 points in 28 games to begin his NHL career and the Avs will have a sharp eye on him. Both the Wild and Avs are looking for some separation right now in the standings as both teams are two and three in the West Division standings and separated by just one point.
Chicago Blackhawks @ Tampa Bay Lightning – 4.00 PM EDT
The Tampa Bay Lightning will look to keep pace atop the highly competitive Central Division as they host the fourth place Chicago Blackhawks again on Saturday.
The Blackhawks made the game interesting for the Lightning through two periods on Thursday night before the Lightning showed the pedigree of a defending Stanley Cup Champions to find the net two more times in the third period to ice the game for a 4-2 win over the Blackhawks.
The month of March has been challenging times for the Lightning in which the Lightning are making life just a little more challenging on themselves than it really should be.
This past week the Lightning lost to the Nashville Predators by a score of 4-1 to start the week, then followed by barely getting by the Dallas Stars the next day on Tuesday and then on Thursday needing the final frame of the game to beat the Blackhawks.
The Chicago Blackhawks have just two wins in March thus far, but their 2-5-1 record can be a bit misleading as they have faced some very tough competition. The Chicago Blackhawks began the month forcing the Lightning into overtime in back-to-back games.
Now followed by playing back and forth hockey with the Lightning again on Thursday night really shows that the Blackhawks can hang with the Lightning. Patrick Kane continues to make a strong case for the Hart Trophy which is given to the leagues’ most valuable player.
Kane is in third place in league scoring with 42 points, and first amongst all players in the Central Division. In fact, Kane is eight points clear of the next closest player in the division.
Alex DeBrincat has been a huge beneficiary of Kane’s playmaking abilities and has taken advantage to score 15 goals on the year which leads the Central Division.
There is no denying that the Lightning are a powerhouse but if Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat can connect on a few power plays, there is a strong possibility that the Blackhawks will make an upset happen.
The Lightning are the second most penalized team in the league so the Blackhawks will get their chances on the power play. The Blackhawks are 18-6 in their last 24 games with two days rest meanwhile the Lightning will be playing their third game in four nights.
Columbus Blue Jackets @ Carolina Hurricanes – 7.00 PM EDT
The Columbus Blue Jackets had a shocking overtime win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. Do not over analyze the Blue Jackets getting the win against one of the best teams in the league right now and the Hurricanes surprisingly dropping another game.
Prior to the Hurricanes losing back-to-back games, the Hurricanes had the best record in the league. The Hurricanes are currently 10-1-2 at home and should have a serious advantage over a Blue Jacket team that’s performed poorly on the road and posting a 5-7-2 record.
— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) March 19, 2021
The Hurricanes should be able to dominate the faceoff circle, as they are ranked second in the league while the Blue Jackets are the third worst team at the dot. Furthermore, the Hurricanes possess the best power play in the league, scoring at a rate of 31.9% of the time.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets have the 6th worst and only scoring at a rate of 15.8% of their opportunities. The Hurricanes have set the standards for the NHL this season and for the neutral hockey fans, it would be entertaining to watch the Hurricanes put on a clinic, but for the better of the game of hockey, let’s hope the Blue Jackets keep up, or not.
Dallas Stars @ Detroit Red Wings – 7.00 PM EDT
Neither the Dallas Stars nor the Detroit Red Wings have been playing their best hockey of late and game one on Thursday night (of a two game series) proves that point. The Stars and Red Wings will meet again Saturday night to see if either or both team will increase the tempo on one another or both teams will just dumb it down to each other.
The Red Wings may appear to have something going by winning back-to-back games and a respectable record on paper of winning their last 3 out of 4 games. There’s significant personnel issues and doubts for the Red Wings that will have the Red Wings grounded back to reality very soon enough.
Filip Hronek leads the Red Wings in points with 18 points on the season, but only has one goal on the season. Another one of their top goal scorers in Bobby Ryan is looking likely to be out again with an upper body injury.
One of the players the Red Wings had high hopes for this season was Filip Zadina (as he was looking to take the next step in his NHL career), but so far he has not met expectations. Zadina has not found the net in his last five games and he just seems to be lost in any sense of direction on the ice when in possession of the puck.
Tyler Bertuzzi is expected to be out again and now with Jonathan Bernier (injured on Thursday night against the Stars) is expected to be out as well; all the injuries stacking up for the Red Wings shifts the momentum to the Stars on being the favourite here.
Vancouver Canucks @ Montreal Canadiens – 7.00 PM EDT
The competition in the North division continues to heat up and getting crowded for the likes of the Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks trying to get into a better position for that final playoff spot in this division. The Vancouver Canucks and Montreal Canadiens kept it tight at the Bell Centre which had all the makings of a playoff game.
The Canucks held onto a 2-1 lead for most of the third period and once again, the Canucks blew the lead and allowed the Habs to tie it up with less than a minute to go and forcing the game to go into overtime which the Canucks did find the net again to win the game in overtime 3-2, but the Habs did pick up a precious point to not lose too much ground in the standings to the Canucks.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) March 20, 2021
Both teams are playing for their playoffs lives right now and this game could be much tighter on Saturday night. Thatcher Demko of the Canucks has been humbled on how it’s an overall team performance, but he’s not fooling anyone that it’s been all Thatcher Demko carrying the Canucks right now.
Thatcher Demko is at 2.66 GAA and .921 Save % with a record of 12-10-1; he’s pretty much playing at his bubble level of last year’s postseason. If the Canucks are taking this game, Demko will need to continue standing on his head.
And if the Habs don’t want to have nightmares of Demko in their sleep and lose ground in the standings against the Canucks, then the Habs need to find a way to get the puck in the back of the net behind Demko.
Philadelphia Flyers @ New York Islanders – 7.00 PM EDT
Despite the loss for the New York Islanders against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Islanders still possess an amazing home record of 12-1-2. It was expected for the Flyers to bounce back of some sort on Thursday night after getting trounced 9-0 to the New York Rangers on Wednesday night.
Call it as a letdown spot for the Islanders or “All good things had to come to an end”, but the Islanders will get back to their winning ways as the far more superior team when compared to the Flyers. The Flyers looked absolutely exhausted at the end of regulation versus the Islanders on Thursday night.
The Flyers tried so hard to sit back in the third period versus the Islanders, using all the energy holding a lead that the Islanders almost completed the comeback after being down three goals to the Flyers at the end of the second period.
Despite the Islanders losing their captain in Anders Lee to an injury, the Islanders have shown some serious resilience in their ability to maintain a lead, make a comeback, or deliver a blowout.
They’ve continued to win in various ways all season, whether it was an offensive night scoring seven goals or their goalie getting a shutout (five total shutouts this season). The Islanders have established themselves as a serious contender while the Flyers have issues on whether they have enough energy to get through the second half of the season and earn themselves a playoff spot.
Calgary Flames @ Toronto Maple Leafs – 7.00 PM EDT
The Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs will play their second game on Hockey Night in Canada after a 4-3 win for the Flames on Friday night. Jack Campbell for the Leafs is expected to get the call between the pipes, but he hasn’t played a game since February 27th.
Nonetheless, Jack Campbell’s numbers have been fairly impressive. He’s 3-0-0 on the season with an unbelievable 1.33 GAA and .951 SVP. At the same time, Jack Campbell has only allowed four goals on 82 shots.
“I thought we played really well.”
Darryl Sutter talks about his team’s play vs. the Leafs. pic.twitter.com/LG9Ud3oxVU
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) March 20, 2021
Earlier this season for Campbell, he returned from an injury after missing 30 something days and got a shutout. So clearly Campbell has got the pedigree to get the job done for the Leafs if he is called upon.
And if the Leafs can get a solid game in the net, their offense should help the Leafs get back on track. The Leafs are treading towards a free fall right now if they don’t halt this skid as the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets are licking their chops on the chance to overtake the Leafs in the North division.
New York Rangers @ Washington Capitals – 7.00 PM EDT
On Friday night the Washington Capitals had to score two goals in the third period to beat the New York Rangers 2-1. No surprise that both Capitals goals were scored by Alex Ovechkin.
Alex Ovechkin is literally a man on a mission (as he always has been for the Caps), he now has six goals in his last five games and is on a tear right now. For this encore match, the Capitals are 10-3-2, have won seven in a row and are 9-1 in their last ten games which also puts them in first place of the East Division.
Other than Ovie, his trusted sidekick in Nicklas Backstrom now has four points in his last four games and leads the Capitals with 33 points. For the Rangers, they have now lost five of their last seven games and are 6-7-1 on the road this season. Goalie Igor Shesterkin of the Rangers should get the start after coming off an injury that had him miss a game earlier this week and his GAA is now at 2.31.
Arizona Coyotes @ Anaheim Ducks – 8.00 PM EDT
The Arizona Coyotes continue to plunge into the danger zone and it’s almost time to panic. The desert dogs are riding a five-game losing streak and one of these games in that losing streak was to the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night.
The Coyotes are now 3-2 against the Ducks in five meetings this season in which these games versus the Ducks should have been ‘gimme games’ for the Coyotes.
The Coyotes offense has been offensively challenged as of late, it’s like the team has literally forgotten where the net is located on the ice as the Coyotes have only scored four goals in their last five games.
— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) March 19, 2021
On paper, the Coyotes are a much better team than what has been shown on the ice. The Coyotes don’t have the superstars, but they are balanced with three lines that can score by committee. At the time of writing this, the Coyotes are currently sitting at 6th in the West Division and only four points out of the final playoff spot.
So this game is a must win for the Coyotes if they want to keep pace in the West Division’s playoff race and if the Ducks have learned anything from the New York Jets, it is to start tanking right about now, just to have a chance for the 1st overall pick in the upcoming draft and throw a wrench into the Buffalo Sabres aspiring season plans.
St Louis Blues @ San Jose Sharks – 9.00 PM EDT
The St. Louis Blues need to show some guts if they hope to salvage their season. Yes, the Blues snapped a five game losing streak, but they had to beat the lowly Sharks 2-1 in a shootout!
The Blues are free falling right now and amazingly still holding onto the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division. These games against the Sharks should be ‘gimme games’ for the Blues so that the Blues can build up some momentum before the likes of the Minnesota Wild and Las Vegas Golden Knights are on the Blues agenda for next week.
Instead, the Blues are making it very difficult on themselves to waste the energy of going through 60 minutes plus five more minutes of overtime and then shootouts just to get two points for the win.
The Sharks have not been impressive this season, in fact, it’s been disappointing for the Sharks. So there should be no reason why the game had to be so close on Friday night.
Not exactly the most exciting game on paper for this action packed Saturday of NHL games, but if you are a Blues fan, this is the game that will remind you at the end of the season that your Blues got the necessary two points to make the playoffs or fell short making the playoffs because they didn’t get the two points from this game.
Winnipeg Jets @ Edmonton Oilers – 10.00 PM EDT
Connor McDavid was the star (no pun intended) man on Thursday night when he scored the Oilers two goals that was just enough to down (no pun intended again) the Jets 2-1.
The Jets will look to even up the two-game series on Saturday which would also be a chance to even up the season long head-to-head record at three games apiece between these two Canadian juggernauts.
Expect another tight game in this Western Canada affair as the last four out of five meetings between these two teams have only been separated by a one goal margin. Another notable and common observation of the Jets this season is that the Jets play a very disciplined game as they are the second least penalized team in the league.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) March 19, 2021
The Jets are averaging just 6.7 penalty minutes a game meanwhile the Oilers are taking nearly 50% more at 8.9 penalty minutes a game. An extra powerplay opportunity per game will be a big advantage for the Jets, especially versus a dangerous powerplay that the Oilers possess.
The Oilers have a dominant power that are ranked 5th in the league with a 27.8% success. The Toronto Maple Leafs are free falling right now in the all Canadian North division, so this is the opportunity for either the Jets to leap ahead for the undisputed division lead or for the Oilers to join the club and make it a three way tie for the lead in division.
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of Bet365.