With the NFL season officially over, it’s time for the NHL to showcase its product during weekend afternoon games! A grand total of 14 afternoon games will be played during the first Saturday-Sunday without football. Here’s a look at a few of your best bets this weekend.
Jets And Senators Hit The Over (6.5 Goals)
The league’s worst defensive unit squares off with one of the league’s top offenses. It’s the perfect mix for any over bettor on Saturday. Bovada sportsbook gives this game the highest over/under of any matchup, but that shouldn’t deter any bettors. Ottawa, in the early stages of a rebuild, has given up 19 more goals than any team in the Eastern Conference. Winnipeg, meanwhile, ranks third in the Western Conference with 189 goals scored, trailing only the San Jose Sharks and Calgary Flames in that category. While all has been quiet on the offensive front these past two games, the Jets are as capable as any team to breakout at any moment. Take the nine-spot they threw up on Anaheim on Saturday, for example. Winnipeg had a 6-0 lead after the first period! All but four players recorded points for the Jets that evening. Ottawa has surrendered five goals in two of their past four games. Take the Jets before they travel further east, facing the Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers on their road trip.
Maple Leafs Beat Rangers
It’s the NHL, where parity reigns supreme. So, finding an absolute lock can be a tough thing to do. This game is the closest contest we have to a lock this weekend. The Leafs head into the weekend riding a three-game winning streak. Toronto is hanging onto second place in the Atlantic as well, despite a recent charge by the Montreal Canadiens. The Leafs have scored 11 goals in their previous two wins. And they have beaten some extremely tough competition lately, including the Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals. New York has lost three of five, and needed overtime to take two of their last three victories. The only question mark here is the starting goalie for Toronto. Will the team ride Frederik Andersen on back-to-back nights? They square off with the Canadiens prior to heading to MSG. Other locks to consider: Lightning over Florida Panthers and San Jose Sharks over Edmonton Oilers.
Don’t Take Penguins (+1.5) Or Lightning (-1.5)
This may be the hardest game to forecast. With the Lightning playing at home, the line is unlikely to shift in the Penguins’ favor. We’re not saying don’t gamble on this game, we’re simply saying it’s too close of a matchup to take the goals in this matchup. No matter what, expect a tight contest entering the third period. These teams have met twice already this season, with the close finishes, as expected. Tampa took the first matchup by a goal, while Pittsburgh answered with a two-goal win of their own. The Lightning have only played close games in February, with the team’s last four games decided by a single goal. Pittsburgh has had several defensive lapses lately, yielding seven goals to the Golden Knights, six to the lowly Devils and five to the Kings. If this game holds true to form, fans should be in for a close shootout. Instead, take either the Penguins outright (+145) or Lightning (-175).