Today’s the final huge Saturday slate of the NHL regular season with some teams playing their last games till next year. Most of the playoffs are all locked up, so most of these games don’t matter. Let’s finish off this big slate with a few wins!
Penguins vs. Sabres (3:00)
This season from hell for the Buffalo Sabres comes to an end today with an interesting offseason coming up. Will Jack Eichel return to the Sabres next season? Will Don Granato lose the interim tag as head coach or will they hire a replacement? Will the front office change? We’ll see how it shakes out. Hopefully there’s Better Days ahead for this franchise that has been in shambles for a decade. Pittsburgh isn’t really playing for anything here because to lock up first place in the East, they’ll need help from both Washington and Boston losing in their last few games. The Penguins, who are 6-1 against Buffalo this season including an 8-4 win on Thursday night. They seem to not care much about the result of their final regular season game though and are starting Maxime Lagace in goal today, for the first time this season. In previous appearances he’s made in the NHL, he’s been pretty awful so I’ll take a stab at the Sabres in regulation at +575 for half a unit, even though the Penguins should still have enough talent outside of the goaltending position to win this game. I’d lean the over too but I’m not betting it.
Bruins vs. Rangers (3:00)
Although they’re currently sitting in third place in the East, the Bruins are the only team in that division that controls their own destiny for first place in the division holding the tie breakers over the Caps and Penguins if they win their final three games of the season. With something to play for and being 5-2 on the year against the Rangers, I’ll take the B’s today in regulation for a unit. Plus after the drama of the last week against the Caps, I feel like the Rangers are deflated.
Islanders vs. Devils (7:00)
The Isles seem to be mailing it in for the regular season with their place in the playoffs already clinched and no chance at being the 1 or 2 seed. They’re 5-2 on the year against the Devils and the way better team that should win this game, but with three straight losses where they look like they do not give a shit, no way I’m betting them at -235.
Capitals vs. Flyers (7:00)
Last night the Caps outshot the Flyers but couldn’t get more than two goals past Brian Elliot, losing two of my three bets on them. The Caps are playing for first place in the East (although they’ll need some help). I’m running it back with the alternate over 6 for a unit and the Caps team total over 3.5, which after last night is 5-2 in games against Philly for a half unit. Both teams are starting their third string goalies too which makes the over more enticing.
Panthers vs. Lightning (7:00)
With Tampa’s loss to Dallas last night, the Battle of Florida is all locked up for the first round of the playoffs in the Central Division, with Tampa facing off against Florida to determine the best hockey team in the state. This game and next game between these teams will determine who has home ice (although they’re only three hours away), with the Panthers needing to win both games to get home ice. On the season these teams are 3-3 against each other so this should be a good preview of the playoff series coming up between them. I’m not betting either side of this game and would lean the over, which is 5-1 this season when the two teams in the state of Florida have played each other, but I’m not betting it.
Blue Jackets vs. Red Wings (7:00)
Last night the Red Wings beat the Jackets 5-2 to take a 4-3 lead on the season series between these two shitty teams. I’d slightly lean Detroit on goaltending alone with the Jackets starting Matiss Kivlenieks again tonight. The season series between these teams has trended under but again on goaltending I wouldn’t bet on that today. Skipping this game entirely.
Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens (7:00)
Technically the Leafs haven’t locked up first place in the North and Montreal hasn’t locked up their playoff spot in the fourth seed. That’s the more than likely scenario of what becomes the first round of the playoffs though and I’d be SHOCKED if that didn’t happen. Because of that this game essentially doesn’t matter to either of these teams. The Leafs are the better team here and have already won the season series 6-3. I’d lean Toronto here but without either team having anything to play for when you use common sense rather than grind out possible scenarios, I’m not betting this game.
Jets vs. Senators (7:00)
The Winnipeg Jets officially locked up their place in the playoffs on Wednesday night with their 4-0 win over Calgary, ending their six game losing streak. They’re pretty much locked in to play Edmonton in the first round and they don’t have anything to play for against the pesky Senators tonight. Winnipeg’s 6-3 on the year against Ottawa and should win again today but with the Jets not playing great recently and the Sens getting HOT way too late in the season, I’m not betting this game. I’d slightly lean Ottawa wins this one without the Jets having anything to play for.
Predators vs. Hurricanes (8:00)
Carolina has nothing to play for with the first seed in the Central clinched with Tampa’s loss to Dallas last night. Nashville on the other hand has a place in the playoffs to play for. With only a two point lead in the standings over the Dallas Stars, every point matters for Nashville. If the Preds lose both of their remaining games against Carolina and Dallas wins their final two against Chicago, the Stars are in and Smashville’s out. Carolina’s a tough matchup for the Predators though and the Canes are 6-0 against the Preds this year. Nashville holds the tie breaker against the Stars so they need to win at least one of these games or have Dallas lose both of their remaining games to clinch the final remaining place in the Central to go on to play this same Hurricanes team in the first round of the playoffs. With so much at stake for the Preds and the Canes likely resting some of their key players, I’d lean they get their first win of the season against Carolina today to clinch their place in the playoffs. Not betting this game but this is the one with the most impact across the NHL today.
Wild vs. Ducks (8:00)
After announcing his retirement last week, my favorite goalie ever, Ryan Miller will make his final NHL start today against the Minnesota Wild. The Wild have had a fantastic season and are locked in the playoffs where they’ll more than likely play the Colorado Avalanche in the first round. The Ducks suck, but with the Wild likely resting players and not going all out on this game without much chance at all at first place in the West (they’d need Vegas to lose out and they’d need to go 3-0), I’m not betting this game at the high price on Minnesota. The Wild should win and they’re 6-1 on the season against Anaheim but with no motivation for Minnesota, I could see Ryan Miller leave the show with a win. I’ll be rooting for Miller and the Ducks here. Thanks for all the memories in Buffalo, Ryan. Best time of watching hockey in my life was when he backstopped the Sabres franchise and I wish the guy the best of luck in his retirement. It’s Miller Time, forever.
Oilers vs. Canucks (10:00)
Since they’ve only played 48 games so far due to all their COVID problems, technically the Canucks aren’t eliminated from the playoffs yet. But let’s be real they’re not making it. The Oilers are almost certainly locked into the #2 seed in the North and will more than likely play the Jets in the first round of the playoffs. On the year, McDavid and the Oilers are 5-3 against Vancouver this season. Without really anything to play for, I’d lean Edmonton wins this game but I’m not betting it.
Golden Knights vs. Blues (10:00)
Going to overtime in their loss to Vegas last night, the Blues clinched fourth place and the remaining place in the West for the playoffs. The Blues have nothing to play for tonight and this is likely the first round matchup for the playoffs. Vegas is technically still playing to lock up first place, not only in the West but the Presidents Cup as well as the top overall seed in all of hockey. On the season, the Knights are 5-2 against the Blues and I’ll be betting that if (when) this ends up being the first round playoff matchup, St. Louis isn’t going to be able to beat Vegas. With Ville Husso in goal tonight and the Blues not playing for anything, I think Vegas wins here and I’ll take my boys in gold for a unit tonight.
Kings vs. Avalanche (10:00)
With the Blues getting their much needed point to clinch the final place in the West Division playoffs last night, this game doesn’t really mean anything to either team. The Kings are eliminated and the Avs not seeming to play like they care about chasing down Vegas for first place (four points back), the likely goaltending matchup today is projected to be Johannson vs. Grosenick. The Avs are 4-1 against LA this season and should smoke them but I’m not paying the price on Colorado.
Sharks vs. Coyotes (10:30)
With nothing to play for with both of these teams eliminated from playoff contention, the Sharks are starting their prospect goalie who they hope to be the future of their franchise Alexei Melnichuk in goal tonight. Arizona leads the season series between these teams 4-3 and I’d lean the Sharks tie that up tonight but I’m not betting this game.
.5u Sabres in regulation (+575)
1u Bruins in regulation (-220)
1u Caps/Flyers over 6 (-145)
.5u Caps TT over 3.5 (-115)
1u Vegas ML (-220)
2u Stanley Cup Champions: Vegas Golden Knights (+700)
2u Stanley Cup Champions: Colorado Avalanche (+650)
1u Stanley Cup Champions: New York Islanders (+1300)
1u Stanley Cup Champions: Washington Capitals (+1600)
Record: 307-224-2 (-11.39 units)