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 three games on today’s schedule.
Montreal Canadiens @ Tampa Bay Lightning – 7.00PM ET
The first game after the Christmas break will see the Montreal Canadiens travel to Tampa Bay and take on the Lightning. The Canadiens are currently dead last in the Atlantic Division, with just 17 points, three points less than the Senators, who are in second last place. The Lightning are currently in top spot in the Atlantic Division, with 44 points, and they have won their last three games in a row.
The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens will resume the NHL season after a brief pause due to COVID-19 as well as the Christmas break. This will be their second meeting for the campaign as the first one was in favour of the Lightning, winning it 3-2 on the road. What makes this head-to-head game even more special is the fact that these were the last remaining teams from the previous season. They fought off well, but Tampa were by no means the better roster as deservedly won the series 4-1. The Lightning are coming into this fixture on a 3-game winning streak defeating the likes of the Los Angeles Kings, the Ottawa Senators, and the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Canadiens are struggling to repeat their fantastic performance from the previous year. They started off the season quite awfully losing a bunch of games in October. This put them in the chasing position from the very beginning and they are still unable to improve from there. The team from Montreal is currently last in the Eastern Conference with 17 points from 31 games. In comparison, the Red Wings are 8th with 33 points from 31 matches as well. They might have set their eyes onto the next season already, but nothing is lost until it is really over. They will do their best against the Lightning, but I doubt that they will be able to withstand their power against the home ice advantage. I will take the Lightning to cover their spread here as I expect yet another dominant display from them.
Denis’ NHL Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning -1.5 (-106)
The Montreal Canadiens are coming into the game with a record of 7-21-3 on the season. By the time they take the ice for this game it will have been a full 12 days since they’ve played. They are hoping the short break will help them restart their season in a better form. They are one of the worst teams in the National Hockey League up until this point and if they do not improve soon they will be out of the playoff race before February comes around. In their final game before the extended Christmas break they defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in a shootout, so they will be looking to carry the momentum from that game into the second half of the season.
Back in business. pic.twitter.com/2eDn6HorMJ
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) December 27, 2021
The two time defending Stanley Cup champions, will be hoping to use the extended break as a chance to rest up and continue the level of play they were at before the short stoppage. The Lightning are coming into this game with a record of 20-6-4 on the season. They are currently on a three game winning streak as they will play a quick home game against the Canadiens. As for the result of this game, I have the Tampa Bay Lightning to extend their winning streak to four games with a victory at home in this one.
Tony’s NHL Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning (-275)
The first game after the restart is between two teams that currently sit on opposite sides of the standings. The Tampa Bay Lightning are in first place in the Atlantic Division with 44 points; Montreal sits in eighth with 17. The Lightning are looking to contend for their third straight Stanley Cup, whereas the Canadiens, the team that faced them in last year’s Stanley Cup Finals, appear to be headed for a top-three pick in the draft.
Before the stop, the Lightning had won eight of their last nine games, but they did struggle against a poor Senators team, as they gave the Lightning their lone loss during that span, and brought them to the brink just five days later, as Tampa Bay squeaked by 2-1. Montreal may be a bad team, but seeing how Tampa sometimes lets their guard down, the Canadiens might have a chance in this one. Anything can happen after a pause in play, and while I’d like to think Montreal has a shot in this one, I’m not going to go against a team of Tampa Bay’s caliber.
Michael’s NHL Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning -1.5 (-106)
Vegas Golden Knights @ Los Angeles Kings – 10.30PM ET
One of two games on Tuesday night’s slate scheduled for 10.30pm, as we will see the Vegas Golden Knights take on the Los Angeles Kings. The Golden Knights have won eight of their last 10 games, and they are currently sitting atop of their Pacific Division. The Kings are sitting in the middle of the pack in the same division, with a record of 14-11-5.
The Los Angeles Kings take on the Vegas Golden Knights after a one-week break. The Golden Knights have been playing on a very high level throughout December, while the Los Angeles Kings have had plenty of ups and downs during the same period. The hosts stumbled in 10th place in the West, while the guests are currently 2nd with a great opportunity to pass the Minnesota Wild for 1st place. Alongside the Colorado Avalanche, the Golden Knights have recorded the most wins in regular time this season in the West – 16. The team has high ambitions that don’t just end after reaching the Playoffs. They will do their best to get their maiden title 5 years after their foundation.
The Los Angeles Kings, on the other hand, will have to fight until the end in order to get a playoff spot. Their team consists of great players like Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty, but they will surely need something better if they want to contend for the Stanley Cup. The Kings rely much on their defence led by Matt Roy, Michael Anderson, and Drew Doughty. They have conceded a small amount of goals so far and that’s what keeps them in the top 10 of the Conference. I think that we will see yet another strategic approach from the Kings, but I sense that the Golden Knights will outsmart them in this one.
Denis’ NHL Pick: Vegas Golden Knights (-146)
The Los Angeles Kings are coming into this game with a record of 14-11-5 on the season. In their last game they beat the Washington Capitals back on December 19th. They come out of the extended break with a seven game home stand that starts with this visit from the Vegas Golden Knights. They will be looking to make the most of the lengthy home stand by stringing some victories together to get back into the thick of the playoff race as the season heads towards the halfway point and the previously planned Olympic break.
The Vegas Golden Knights are sitting much prettier than their opponent in this game tonight as they enter this one with a record of 20-12-0 on the season. They are currently sitting in first place in the Pacific Division as they take on the fifth place team in the division on Tuesday. In their last game, they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning so they look to get back into the winning column in this one. As for the result of this game, I expect them to do exactly that as I look for the Vegas Golden Knights to pick up the victory on the road in this one.
Tony’s NHL Pick: Vegas Golden Knights (-146)
The Los Angeles Kings have had an up and down season, full of win streaks and losing skids. Still they’ve been able to stay in the playoff picture, thanks to the likes of veteran Anze Kopitar, who has 27 points on the season. They sit just three points outside of Edmonton for fourth place as they look to make a statement win against their Pacific Division rivals the Vegas Golden Knights.
After a tough start due to numerous injuries, the Vegas Golden Knights are exactly where we expected them to be before the season started: in first place in the Pacific Division. They’re thrilled to have veteran leaders Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone back in the lineup, and they’ve received great production from guys like Chandler Stephenson and Reilly Smith. This Vegas team looks to continue their hunt toward another Western Conference title, but Los Angeles will be no easy task. The Kings are unpredictable, but they have a similar veteran presence to the Golden Knights. Ultimately, I’ll pick Vegas, but they’ll need to be on top of their game away from home.
Michael’s NHL Pick: Vegas Golden Knights (-146)
Arizona Coyotes @ San Jose Sharks – 10.30PM ET
The Arizona Coyotes will hit the road and travel to San Jose on Tuesday night to take on the Sharks. The Coyotes have won only two of their last 10 games, which puts them last in their Central Division, with just 14 points. The Sharks have lost their last two games in a row, which drops their season record to 15-14-1.
Tonight we will see the San Jose Sharks against the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes are dead last in the Western Conference and in the whole NHL as well. They have gathered just 14 points out of 29 games so far. Their goal difference is one of the worst a team has had before Christmas, scoring 56 goals and conceding 109 goals. The team directly counted the current campaign out, but they will do their best to improve as much as possible throughout the remaining matches. A thing that might cheer up their fans is the fact that they are coming into this match after defeating the Anaheim Ducks after overtime.
The San Jose Sharks is surely a playoff contender this season. They are currently 12th in the West with 31 points from 30 games. However, the difference between them and the 6th place, occupied by the Colorado Avalanche, is just 6 points. It seems, however, that they are having some troubles in their home matches this season. Prior to the break, the Sharks lost three out of five games at SAP Center. The loss against the Minnesota Wild might be excused, but they went on to lose to the Seattle Kraken and the Vancouver Canucks. I think we might see a continuation of this negative tendency for them. Hence, I will go with the surprise in this match and pick the Arizona Coyotes as the final winner.
Denis’ NHL Pick: Arizona Coyotes (+202)
Even after a few weeks off the Arizona Coyotes are still the worst team in the National Hockey League and that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon. They are 6-21-2 coming into this game, however they did pick up a win over the Anaheim Ducks in their final game before the constant postponements of several games. They will be looking to use the short break as a rest period, hoping they can potentially turn this lost year into a somewhat respectable season for themselves.
Last Mario Monday of 2021 ✨ pic.twitter.com/2AtsMbAUUA
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) December 27, 2021
The San Jose Sharks are coming into this game with a record of 15-14-1 on the year which puts them exactly at the .500 mark on the season. They will be looking to break a two game losing streak as they’ve lost to Seattle and Vancouver in their last two games. As for the result of this game, I have the San Jose Sharks picking up the victory in this game at home.
Tony’s NHL Pick: San Jose Sharks (-250)
The Arizona Coyotes are undoubtedly one of the, if not the, worst teams in the NHL. Still, they’re capable of pulling off a big win here and there. Example: right before the NHL went on break they got a huge 6-5 overtime win against the Anaheim Ducks. So they definitely have a chance against a San Jose Sharks team that sits in sixth place in the Pacific Division.
The Sharks are one of the team’s that were probably a little pleased that the NHL took a halt. They had lost their last two games to the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks, losing 1-3 and 2-5 respectively. Still, they sit just outside the Western Conference playoff race with 31 points, if they want to start trending upward, they have a wonderful opportunity against this Coyotes team that’s an abysmal 6-21-2. I expect San Jose to win this one with ease, thanks to their home-ice advantage and their solid goalie combo of James Reimer and Adin Hill.
Michael’s NHL Pick: San Jose Sharks -1.5 (+106)
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of writing, courtesy of FanDuel.