NHL Picks and Betting Tips February 20, 2018

Last Updated: 2018-02-20

AFTERNOON LINE REPORT – Tuesday, February 20th

 

Another domino fell last night as the NHL trade winds blew through the cities of Detroit and Philadelphia. With Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth out long-term, the current three-seed in the Metropolitan Division decided they couldn’t go with rookie Alex Lyon down the stretch and made a pretty good deal with the Red Wings for just turned 26-year old Petr Mrazek.

The Czech goalkeeper had a career .920 save percentage in 83 games before last year’s setback where he struggled to a .901 mark and was questioned for his poor attitude. He also struggled to begin this season but has been quite good since the All-Star break with a .918 save percentage in six games once he was given more regular playing time. A fresh start in a new city might be just what Mrazek needs to turn his career back around so the Flyers could catch a bit of lightning in a bottle, if they’re lucky.

A huge key to the deal is Detroit retaining 50 percent of the remaining salary this season for Mrazek. According to @CapFriendly, this means the Flyers will only be on the hook for $524,327 which is a pretty cheap rental for a veteran goaltender (somewhat veteran, as Mrazek is actually younger than both Elliot and Neuvirth). The only cost for Philadelphia is a couple of conditional draft picks (with excellent conditions). Here’s a tweet from TSN’s Bob McKenzie which details those conditions if you’re interested.

 

On the ice yesterday, Boston earned us another win after a great start but had to hang on late and stole the overtime victory. That win extends our nice run here as of late but I played things a little too cautiously last night and left some wins on the table. Nashville in regulation was originally the only play on the card and somehow I ended up scratching it while Anaheim should have absolutely been a play late in the evening after Ryan Kesler was announced good to go with James Neal ruled out with an illness for Vegas. Hopefully someone took my own advice and added the Ducks late in the day to their card.

Tonight, we have several interesting plays but almost nothing with value any more. The NHL market has been relatively quiet over the past few weeks but today they blew things up with several large line moves. A couple worked in our favor but most chewed up a lot of good numbers. I’m going to remain conservative this week and ended up scratching a few of the plays but we still have a trio we’ll get involved with.

As always, be sure to check in with me on Twitter (@kreatture) for updates after morning skates, additional plays, or just to chat.


*All odds courtesy BetOnline as of 2:15pm Eastern Time

 

*NOTE* I assign a value to every player in the NHL which is part of the line I create. Only those players with a value greater than zero are listed below in the injury report for each team. In other words, if a player is worth nothing to the line movement, he won’t be listed.  

MONTREAL CANADIENS @ PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

Projected Goaltenders
Montreal – Carey Price (confirmed)
Philadelphia – Petr Mrazek/Alex Lyon (unknown) [UPDATE: Lyon (confirmed)]

Injury Report
Montreal – Hemsky (out), Shaw (out), Weber (out), Danault (in)
Philadelphia – Elliott (out), Neuvirth (out) [UPDATE: Simmonds (out)]

Injuries/Lineup Notes
– Montreal is expected to have Phillip Danault back in the lineup after he passed his final concussion test and received clearance to play. Danault lined up at center on the third line at practice between Alex Galchenyuk and Charles Hudon. He has just seven goals and 23 points in 43 games this season but was one of the Canadiens better possession players and his return should be a big help.
– Andrew Shaw returned to practice and skated on a fifth line yesterday. He’s now day-to-day but won’t be in the lineup tonight.
– News on Shea Weber wasn’t great on Monday. Claude Julien revealed that Weber was back skating at one point but is now having a lot of difficulty and can’t get on the ice. Best case scenario would be a late season return but even that is hopeful.

– Philadelphia was already without Brian Elliott for 5-6 weeks and now Michal Neuvirth is lost for 4-6 weeks after losing him to a lower-body injury in Sunday’s 7-4 win over the Rangers. Alex Lyon played well in relief stopping 25 of 26 shots to earn his first NHL win but the 25-year old prospect isn’t expected to be the goaltender of the future for the Flyers so Hextall pulled the trigger on the trade I highlighted in the intro.
– Petr Mrazek traveled from Detroit and arrived in Philadelphia this morning. He’s expected to be on the ice for this morning’s skate and Hextall said it would be up to Dave Hakstol on whether he would be ready to start tonight’s game. After a slow start to the season, Mrazek has played quite well since the All-Star break going 3-2-1 with a .918 save percentage. I’ve been an advocate for fading Mrazek a lot this season but I think the Czech goalkeeper could do well in his new environment.
– [UPDATE: News from the morning skate with Wayne Simmonds being announced out for 2-3 weeks with an upper-body injury. Simmonds is having a bit of a down year offensively for him, but still had 20 goals and 37 points and was skating on the top line. Jordan Weal will take his spot on the top line tonight with Nolan Patrick sliding onto the first powerplay unit]

Schedule Spot
– Montreal has had two days off but will conclude a four game road trip tonight, still searching for their first win. The Canadiens have lost five in a row and eight of ten overall but had a strong practice yesterday and it’s clear the players are still all-in on the effort. With Karl Alzner and Jeff Petry as your top pair defense though, the skill level just isn’t there for Montreal this season.

– Philadelphia returned home after a pair of huge divisional victories at Columbus and New York to solidify themselves in the top three of the Metropolitan Division. They’ll host Columbus again on Thursday in another big game so tonight’s game against Montreal is a bit of a strange spot for them and there’s a possibility it could get overlooked a bit. The home side has dominated this head-to-head matchup over the last few seasons but the Canadiens could be a live dog tonight, especially if Lyon gets the start.

 

FLORIDA PANTHERS @ TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

Projected Goaltenders
Florida – Roberto Luongo (confirmed)
Toronto – Frederik Andersen (confirmed)

Injury Report
Florida – Vrbata (out)
Toronto – Bozak (in)

Injuries/Lineup Notes
– Roberto Luongo will get the start again tonight. Bob Boughner said yesterday that Luongo would be the de facto starter for the rest of the season and James Reimer will likely only see sporadic starts when Lu needs a rest. The Panthers are still in the thick of the playoff race thanks to having 3-5 games in hand of every team ahead of them, despite still being six points out of the second Wild Card spot. Luongo made 30 saves in his return from injury in a 6-3 win at Calgary on Saturday. He said he felt better than expected but wasn’t back to being as sharp as he could be.
– Radim Vrbata appears to be a healthy scratch tonight. Connor Brickley will slot back into the lineup.

– Roman Polak is paired with Travis Dermott at the morning skate so it looks like he’ll (unfortunately) slot back into the lineup over Connor Carrick, Tyler Bozak was not on the ice this morning so we’ll wait to get an update on his status. Josh Leivo skating in his place centering the third line. [UPDATE: Mike Babcock said it was just maintenance for Bozak and he will play tonight]

Schedule Spot
– Florida wraps up their five game road trip tonight in another difficult spot. After three wins to start the trip, the Panthers expectedly looked tired on the second half of a back-to-back in Sunday’s 7-2 loss at Winnipeg. This will be their third game in four nights and against the high-flying Leafs, this could also result in a similar lopsided score.

– Toronto returns home after a short two game road trip to Pittsburgh and Detroit. This will also be a three-in-four situation for the Leafs but it was a short trip home and they’ve barely traveled any miles this month so they’ll be the fresher team. Toronto has won six in a row at the Air Canada Centre and despite the Panthers recent surge, I’m not expecting anything other than a Leafs victory tonight. This line has seen over a 30-cent plummet from its opener which is inexplicable. We’ll happily jump on Toronto here.

 

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING @ WASHINGTON CAPITALS

Projected Goaltenders
Tampa Bay – Andrei Vasilevskiy (confirmed)
Washington – Braden Holtby (confirmed)

Injury Report
Tampa Bay – Budaj (out), Palat (out)
Washington – no significant injuries

Injuries/Lineup Notes
– No new injuries for Tampa Bay. Jon Cooper was asked about forward Ondrej Palat and backup goaltender Peter Budaj yesterday and he said both are still “weeks” away.

– Washington is completely healthy. They made a small trade yesterday acquiring defenseman Michal Kempny from the Chicago Blackhawks for a 2018 third-round draft pick. Kempny was a solid possession defender with the Hawks but only saw 31 games of action this season after 50 in his rookie season a year ago. He’s expected to be a regular in the Caps lineup and may slide in on the second pair beside John Carlson. Rookie Christian Djoos would then move down to the third pair with Brooks Orpik while Madison Bowey is expected to be the odd man out and send back down to the AHL. Kempny was expected to arrive in Washington late last night and could be in the lineup tonight. [UPDATE: Kempny surprisingly stayed on for extra work this morning so it appears he’ll be a scratch tonight. Bowey’s place in the lineup remains safe for now]

Schedule Spot
– Tampa Bay has had two days off so should be fully rested as they open a three game road trip here before heading to Ottawa and Montreal. The Lightning have dropped three of four overall and three straight on the road so this looks like a pretty good trip to get back on track against some lesser opponents. The Capitals are still second in the Metro Division but their underlying numbers are of great concern and I mentioned multiple times over the past few weeks how they were the most vulnerable of the division leaders.

– Washington enters a very difficult stretch of the schedule tonight as they’ll alternate home/away games and complete a stretch of 11 games in 19 days. Tonight is their seventh in 12 days and also a clear rest disadvantage on the back-to-back and three-in-four and four-in-six. The Lightning should be the play here and would have easily qualified earlier this morning when they were in the -120 range. The market is moving lines like crazy today and has pushed this one out of range but we’ll keep an eye on things to see if this comes back down a bit. [UPDATE: On my final look before posting, this line has just dropped back into the mid -120s so we’ll happily jump aboard]

 

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS @ NEW JERSEY DEVILS

Projected Goaltenders
Columbus – Sergei Bobrovsky (expected)
New Jersey – Keith Kinkaid (confirmed)

Injury Report
Columbus – Foligno (out), Nutivaara (out), Murray (in)
New Jersey – Schneider (out), Johansson (out), Gibbons (out), Wood (out)

Injuries/Lineup Notes
– The Blue Jackets will have a new look on the blueline tonight. Ryan Murray will be back in the lineup and skate on the second pair with Jack Johnson. Markus Nutivaara was unable to practice on Monday and will not play tonight due to an upper-body injury. And Scott Harrington will draw back into the lineup on the third pair with Dean Kukan out with an upper-body injury suffered last game.
– Up front, Columbus will also have a new look as Nick Foligno has been lost for the next two weeks with a knee injury. Boone Jenner moved up on the second line wing to skate with Alexander Wennberg and Oliver Bjorkstrand. Matt Calvert then replaces Jenner on the third line to play with Brandon Dubinsky and Josh Anderson. Zac Dalpe was called up from Cleveland and either he or Lukas Sedlak will fill Calvert’s spot on the fourth line centering Markus Hannikainen and Jussi Jokinen.
– Rookie Sonny Milano is no longer injured. He was reassigned to Cleveland and scored a goal in his first game. He’ll remain in the AHL for the time being.

– Miles Wood will serve the second and final game of his suspension tonight for New Jersey. Cory Schneider skated yesterday and again today while John Hynes said they pushed him a bit harder in today’s session. Hynes said they’ll see where he’s at after Wednesday.

Schedule Spot
– Columbus will play a pair of crucial road games against divisional opponents this week with a trip to Philadelphia on Thursday after tonight. The Blue Jackets have lost three in a row and eight of ten overall since coming out of the All-Star break. They’re still just one point behind Carolina for the second Wild Card spot but have now fallen seven back of the second Wild Card Devils and third place Flyers in the Metro. A couple more losses this week and the Jackets could suddenly find themselves looking like sellers before Monday’s deadline rather than buyers. John Tortorella insists this is a playoff team and I once thought this was maybe the best team in the Metro division, myself, but there’s clearly something wrong with this group. There’s been rumors that the players aren’t responding to Tortorella’s “unique” coaching techniques anymore and maybe there’s something more to that but that’s speculation. Either way, these next two games are as important as any this season for the reeling Jackets.

– New Jersey walked into Carolina on Sunday in what was one of their most difficult spots of the year and left with a 3-2 victory after Taylor Hall’s overtime winner. It was an incredibly impressive performance, particularly from Hall who now owns a franchise record 18-game point streak and is pushing his name into the Hart Trophy conversation. The Devils begin a three game homestand tonight but this is still a tough spot in terms of rest as it will be their ninth game in 15 days to go along with the three-in-four and four-in-six spot. This line has moved the Devils from small favorites to a divisional home dog which is quite tempting to back. I’m going to stay away for now but if this climbs into the +110s the Devils are definitely worth a look.

 

NASHVILLE PREDATORS @ DETROIT RED WINGS

Projected Goaltenders
Nashville – Juuse Saros (expected)
Detroit – Jimmy Howard (confirmed)

Injury Report
Nashville – Fisher (out)
Detroit – Green (out)

Injuries/Lineup Notes
– Nashville remained healthy after last night’s 5-2 win over Ottawa. I mentioned yesterday how the Predators had actually been playing some of their best hockey of the year despite not having the wins recently to show for it. They continued their strong possession play last night and thoroughly dominated the Senators.
– Juuse Saros is expected in goal on the back-to-back and he continues to be a hard-luck loser of late. He’s 5-5-5 overall but has a stellar .925 save percentage. He took the loss Saturday against these Red Wings despite stopping 31 of 33 shots and is 0-2-1 since the All-Star break with a .920 save percentage so he’ll be looking to get back in the win column.

– Mike Green skated this morning and worked on the second powerplay unit but ruled himself out for tonight. He expects to play Thursday against Buffalo (if he’s not traded before then). Martin Frk will return to the lineup after missing Sunday’s game.
– With Petr Mrazek shipped out the crease belongs to Jimmy Howard now. Howard is 16-18-6 on the year with a very average .910 save percentage while allowing nearly three goals per game. He ranks 44th out of 66 qualified goaltenders in Goals-Saved-Above-Average this season at -3.21, according to hockey-reference.com and has lost six of his last eight starts overall. Only once over that span has he allowed less than three goals and he owns an ugly .884 save percentage over that time, as well. Jared Coreau was called up and is expected to serve as the backup for the remainder of the season. Expect him to get some playing time down the stretch.

Schedule Spot
– This will be a standalone road game for Nashville on a back-to-back but it’s also a rematch from Saturday where the Preds lost 3-1 at home so they’ll be looking for some immediate revenge. Nashville dominated possession in that one, as well, but Detroit was probably the better team overall winning the Scoring Chances and Expected Goals race. The players feel they’re playing at a high level right now so there’s no shortage of confidence with this group. Of course, how could any group led by the dynamic P.K. Subban ever be short on confidence. Nashville was a play this morning at -118 but I’ve scratched them at the current -133 number.

– Detroit plays the second of a four game homestand after losing the opener 3-2 to Toronto on Sunday.

 

LOS ANGELES KINGS @ WINNIPEG JETS

Projected Goaltenders
Los Angeles – Darcy Kuemper (expected)
Winnipeg – Connor Hellebuyck (expected)

Injury Report
Los Angeles – Carter (out), Lewis (out)
Winnipeg – Mason (out), Hutchinson (out), Lowry (out), Trouba (out)

Injuries/Lineup Notes
– Darcy Kuemper is expected to start tonight on the back-to-back. Kuemper has been outstanding this season going 9-1-3 with a sparkling .934 save percentage, although he is coming off a couple of tough games where he allowed three goals at Tampa Bay on just 14 shots and then three goals at Carolina on 21 shots.
– Jeff Carter is still on track to begin practicing with the team when they return home tomorrow.

– Steve Mason and Michael Hutchinson once again were on the ice this morning taking some shots. Mason is expected to be closer to returning and there may be an update on him after practice. Brandon Tanev and Shawn Matthias were also skating in non-contact jerseys again. Tanev is ready to take contact and about a week away. Paul Maurice said he expects Adam Lowry back in early March and Jacob Trouba’s timeline is sometime after that.

Schedule Spot
– A very difficult spot for Los Angeles here with the over 700-mile trip from Chicago to Winnipeg overnight. It’s also the final game of a very long seven game trip which also concludes as a three-in-four and four-in-six spot. With a big win over the Hawks last night and a fairly successful 3-3-0 trip to this point, the Kings might have one foot on the plane heading back to Cali early.

– Winnipeg finally wraps up their massive ten game homestand tonight. They’ll have a couple of days off before a weekend back-to-back against Central Division rivals St. Louis and Dallas. Look for the Jets to punctuate a successful homestand with a win tonight and although the line has jumped quite high here, this is a spot we feel comfortable getting involved with. [I had the Jets -0.5 (-125) down as a play tonight but scratched it last minute. I might regret that but there’s no value in the current number and I would rather remain on the cautious side right now]

 

SAN JOSE SHARKS @ ST. LOUIS BLUES

Projected Goaltenders
San Jose – Martin Jones (confirmed)
St. Louis – Carter Hutton (confirmed)

Injury Report
San Jose – Thornton (out), Hertl (out), Ward (out), Burns (in)
St. Louis – Sobotka (out), Edmundson (out)

Injuries/Lineup Notes
– The big news for San Jose is Brent Burns took the ice today in his regular pairing (on defense!). Sharks fans were holding their breath after Burns left Sunday’s game in the third period for an unspecified reason. Paul Martin was recalled from the Barracuda but it appears as if Burns will be good to go.
– The news isn’t as good for forward Tomas Hertl who was officially placed on IR. There’s no timetable for his return.

– Vladimir Sobotka will miss tonight’s game due to illness. Sammy Blais was called up and will enter the lineup. Robert Bortuzzo is also hurting on defense so Chris Butler was recalled and will play. The 31-year old Butler has played just six games with the Blues over the past two seasons and has yet to record a point. They’ll bury him on the third line with rookie Vince Dunn and limit those minutes, I’m sure, which means a heavier dose of Gunnarsson-Pietrangelo and Bouwmeester-Parayko tonight.

Schedule Spot
– San Jose begins a nasty four games in six days road trip through (most of) the beasts of the Central Division. Stops here in St. Louis, followed by visits to Nashville, Chicago and Minnesota could see the standings in the Pacific Division with an entirely new look by next week for the current second place Sharks.

– St. Louis returns home after a pair of tough divisional losses at Nashville and Dallas where they only escaped with one point. The Blues have lost three in a row overall but have been playing well enough to win. Look for them to get back on track here tonight. The opener in the -140s was a very attractive price earlier this morning so congrats if you grabbed that ticket. We’re not looking at any value now but this is a spot where I really like the Blues so am opting to still jump aboard.

 

BOSTON BRUINS @ EDMONTON OILERS

Projected Goaltenders
Boston – Anton Khudobin (confirmed)
Edmonton – Cam Talbot (confirmed)

Injury Report
Boston – Bjork (out), Vatrano (out), Miller (out)
Edmonton – Montoya (questionable), Nugent-Hopkins (out), Sekera (out)

Injuries/Lineup Notes
– Anton Khudobin will start on the back-to-back for Boston. He’s had a solid season going 12-3-4 overall with a .923 save percentage. He last played on Saturday when he played the final 40 minutes in relief of Tuukka Rask at Vancouver, allowing two goals on 15 shots in what was a 6-1 blowout. Khudobin is 2-1-0 since the All-Star break with a .921 save percentage.
– Kevan Miller is expected to be ready to go tonight but we’ll have to wait and see if Bruce Cassidy inserts him back into the lineup. The expectation would be he’ll take Adam McQuaid’s spot if he goes back in. [UPDATE: Cassidy says no lineup changes tonight so Miller remains out]
– Boston just acquired defenseman Nick Holden from the Rangers for minor league d-man Rob O’Gara and a 2018 third-round draft pick. The Bruins are pretty set on defense but Holden will give them needed depth down the stretch. Bruins fans surely remember how injuries to their blueline entering last year’s playoffs led to a quick exit so this is an excellent cheap acquisition.
Side note: Bruins fans might be interested to hear there was a surprise face at the AHL Providence Bruins practice today. Jarome Iginla suited up and took the ice and is reportedly expressing an interest in playing again. He said there’s no deals in place for him to return with any team at this point but this is the first step in seeing how it is. Now, sorry to (maybe) burst your bubble Bruins fans, but a Bruins source also said Providence is allowing him to practice with them as more of a favor to an ex-Bruin (since he lives in Boston) than any indication of actual interest from the Bruins themselves. Iginla would need to sign a contract with a team before Monday’s 3 p.m. EST trade deadline to be eligible for any playoff games.

– Edmonton didn’t practice on the Family Day holiday in Alberta yesterday so there was no update on backup Al Montoya. As of last night, Laurent Brossoit was still up with the team and Montoya was not placed on IR, so we’ll see what his status is today. Either way, Cam Talbot will start tonight.
– Todd McLellan said Andrej Sekera is expected to play either Thursday against Colorado or Saturday at Los Angeles. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins won’t be available until sometime in March. Both were on the ice and participated in today’s skate.

Schedule Spot
– Boston will play the third of their five game road trip after yesterday afternoon’s 2-1 overtime win at Calgary. With the early start yesterday and short trip from Calgary to Edmonton, followed by the late start tonight, the back-to-back shouldn’t hurt the Bruins so much. They’ll have three days off after this one before heading to Toronto so they’ll likely fly home after tonight.

– Edmonton is back home for a pair of games after a 1-2-0 road trip which ended with a 4-2 win at Colorado on Sunday. The Oilers trailed 2-1 after 40 minutes and appeared headed to another loss before Connor McDavid unleashed himself and finished the game with a hat trick (The Avs were also down to just four defensemen in the third period, too, which was a big factor). It was over a 1000-mile trip home from Colorado with just the one day break so this three-in-four and four-in-six spot isn’t necessarily the easiest for Edmonton.

 

COLORADO AVALANCHE @ VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Projected Goaltenders
Colorado – Semyon Varlamov (confirmed)
Vancouver – Anders Nilsson (confirmed)

Injury Report
Colorado – Bernier (out), Andrighetto (out), Barberio (out), Johnson (out)
Vancouver – Markstrom (out), Granlund (out), Tanev (out), Gagner (doubtful)

Injuries/Lineup Notes
– Colorado has been trying to stay afloat in the playoff race but are now five points back of Minnesota and the second Wild Card spot and will now have to survive without a pair of key defensemen who were lost to upper-body injuries in Sunday’s 4-2 loss to Edmonton where they had to finish the game with just four defenders and couldn’t hold onto a third period lead. The most notable, Erik Johnson, averages almost 26 minutes per night and will be impossible to replace. He was an excellent partner to youngster Nikita Zadorov but now someone will have to fill this huge hole. Anton Lindholm, the rookie who was partnered with Tyson Barrie, was also lost. Johnson and Lindholm are also two of Colorado’s most physical defenders so this could be a serious blow to their season. Both are listed as out indefinitely.
– With massive holes on the blueline, David Warsofsky and Andrei Mironov were called up and expected to be in the lineup tonight. Not a pretty picture for the Avalanche.

– Starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom won’t play tonight after apparently tweaking something during Monday’s practice. Anders Nilsson will get the start while Richard Bachman was recalled to back him up. Nilsson is coming off a 44-save effort in Saturday’s 6-1 win over Boston. He’s had an up and down season but I feel he’s the better option of the two over Markstrom and it could be good for the Canucks if he can get a few games in a row, although they have a tough road trip upcoming.
– Sam Gagner is almost ready to go for Vancouver but maybe not tonight. Travis Green said Gagner is a “possibility for (tonight), but more likely Friday.”
– Defenseman Chris Tanev is going to be out longer than expected. Word is now he’s looking at another 3-4 weeks.
– The Canucks re-signed hulking defenseman Erik Gudbranson to a new three-year contract extension today for an AAV of $4 million. Gudbranson serves his purpose but Vancouver fans shouldn’t be too happy about spending this kind of money on a player like Gudbranson.

Schedule Spot
– Colorado is in a weird stretch right now as they’re playing eight games in a row against Canadian teams. This is game number four which opens a three game road trip through Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary. The schedule is spaced out so they play every other day but it’s going to be tough with the depleted blueline.

– Vancouver has had two days off as they’ll wrap up a short two game homestand before heading down to Vegas for Friday’s game. This is a good chance to grab another win before that difficult trip.

 

-END OF FEBRUARY 20 PICKS-

 

AFTERNOON LINE REPORT – Monday, February 19th

 

We’re down to the final week before the 2018 NHL Trade Deadline and it’s going to be a busy week for most teams as there seems to be a lot more buyers and sellers this year. It’s a tricky week to handicap so we’ll be tiptoeing a bit around games and not stepping out on too many ledges, meaning it’s likely to be a conservative week before we amp things up for the final stretch run.

Yesterday saw us go 2-1 as we’ve had a strong run since returning last week, including a 9-1 run since Thursday to put us back over the +20 unit mark for the season. It’s been a bit of a tough day for me and we’re approaching puck drop for the next game where we have our only pick of the day (for now) so let’s get right to it.

As always, be sure to check in with me on Twitter (@kreatture) for updates after morning skates, additional plays, or just to chat.


*All odds courtesy BetOnline as of 3:45pm Eastern Time

 

*NOTE* I assign a value to every player in the NHL which is part of the line I create. Only those players with a value greater than zero are listed below in the injury report for each team. In other words, if a player is worth nothing to the line movement, he won’t be listed.  

BOSTON BRUINS @ CALGARY FLAMES – [4:05pm EST]

Projected Goaltenders
Boston – Tuukka Rask (confirmed)
Calgary – David Rittich (confirmed)

Injury Report
Boston – Bjork (out), Vatrano (out), Miller (out)
Calgary – Smith (out), Versteeg (out), Brouwer (out)

Injuries/Lineup Notes
– Boston will go with the same lineup as Saturday’s disappointing 6-1 blowout loss at Vancouver which means Kevan Miller won’t return to the lineup. Claude Julien said he could return for tomorrow’s game in Edmonton. Tuukka Rask will get the start with Anton Khudobin expected to go tomorrow night.

– Mike Smith was on the ice prior to Sunday’s practice and faced a few shots but didn’t stay on long. He’s still recovering from a lower-body injury and isn’t ready yet so David Rittich will get the start again with Jon Gillies backing up. Rittich was pulled in Saturday’s 6-3 loss to Florida after allowing four goals on just 15 shots. Gillies also struggled allowing two goals on 15 shots in relief. It was a tough spot for the Flames and I had mentioned they were vulnerable to the upset that night but it has to be a bit concerning that Rittich has allowed three or more goals in his last three starts after only allowing three or more in one of his first seven starts.
– Troy Brouwer fully practiced on Sunday with a full cage and regular jersey. He’s been upgraded day-to-day now and is expected to return anytime. Kris Versteeg is also skating on his own prior to practices now. He’s still going slow though and is awaiting approval from his surgeon to increase the intensity and rejoin team workouts.

Schedule Spot
– Boston kicked off a five game road trip with the lackluster loss at Vancouver on Saturday. Expect the Bruins to have a strong bounce back today as they haven’t dropped back-to-back games since mid-December and haven’t lost consecutive games in regulation since mid-November. They’ll travel to Edmonton for a back-to-back tomorrow.

– Calgary wraps up a short two game homestand here and will travel to Vegas after for Wednesday’s game. I mentioned before how Calgary is now currently in their toughest schedule block of the season and despite being a home game, this isn’t the easiest spot for the Flames with the divisional trip on deck. This line on Boston was much more attractive earlier today and this late steam 30-40 minutes before puck drop is annoying but we’re still going ahead with the Bruins play.

 

OTTAWA SENATORS @ NASHVILLE PREDATORS

Projected Goaltenders
Ottawa – Craig Anderson (confirmed)
Nashville – Pekka Rinne (expected)

Injury Report
Ottawa – Burrows (out), Ryan (out), Dzingel (out), Wideman (out)
Nashville – Fisher (out)

Injuries/Lineup Notes
– Ryan Dzingel is still away from the team dealing with a personal issue. He may rejoin the team tomorrow in Chicago. No other injury changes to report for Ottawa. Frederik Claesson will draw back into the lineup on the blueline over Ben Harpur.

– Nashville remains healthy. The Mike Fisher watch continues as he says his speed is good now and it’s just a matter of building up endurance again. March 1 continues to be a target return date.

Schedule Spot
– Ottawa completed a mini two game home sweep over the Sabres and Rangers and have won five in a row on home ice. They’ll head onto the road now for a pair of tough road games here and then at Chicago on Wednesday. The Senators have lost six of seven away from home with only one of those losses coming by just one goal. Anderson will have his kids and family in town to watch this one but it likely won’t be enough to spur the Sens to victory.

– Nashville will wrap up a four game homestand tonight. The Predators have played a much stronger possession game this month compared to earlier in the season and they’re starting to round into form, despite having trouble putting teams away lately. They’ve dropped two in a row here at Bridgestone Arena and haven’t won a game in regulation anywhere since February 3 (3-2-2). They’ll open a back-to-back tonight with a trip to Detroit for tomorrow’s game. Was going to play the Preds in regulation tonight but not interested in laying -150 so we’ll just pass.

 

LOS ANGELES KINGS @ CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

Projected Goaltenders
Los Angeles – Jonathan Quick (expected)
Chicago – Anton Forsberg (confirmed)

Injury Report
Los Angeles – Carter (out), Lewis (out)
Chicago – Crawford (out), Rutta (out)

Injuries/Lineup Notes
– Jonathan Quick was first off the ice today which would be the usual indicator of him starting tonight. I thought they would go with Darcy Kuemper and use Quick on the back-to-back tomorrow in Winnipeg. Kuemper has been playing at a high level all season and giving him the much tougher game against the Jets speaks to the level of confidence John Stevens has in him.

– Corey Crawford worked out off-ice again today and there’s still no timetable on any kind of return. Defenseman Jan Rutta is “getting better” according to Joel Quenneville but he was unsure if Rutta would be ready for Wednesday’s game again Ottawa.

Schedule Spot
– Los Angeles will play their sixth of a season-long seven game road trip tonight. This is a tough spot for the Kings and the schedule isn’t going to get any easier as they’ve begun their toughest stretch of the season with 11 games over 19 days.

– Chicago will play the third of a five game homestand after splitting the first two. The Hawks ended a long eight game losing skid with a huge 7-1 win over Washington on Saturday. There’s a clear rest advantage for Chicago tonight, if nothing else.

 

ANAHEIM DUCKS @ VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS

Projected Goaltenders
Anaheim – John Gibson (expected)
Vegas – Marc-Andre Fleury (confirmed)

Injury Report
Anaheim – Eaves (out), Kesler (questionable)
Vegas – Subban (out), Bellemare (out), Theodore (out), Neal (GTD)

Injuries/Lineup Notes
– Ryan Kesler missed Saturday’s game but did travel with the team and is questionable for tonight. He didn’t practice yesterday (worked out off-ice) but that has been standard for him the day after a game since returning from hip surgery. We’ll get an update from Randy Carlyle later today.

– Defenseman Shea Theodore will not play again tonight as he deals with some sort of throat illness. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare has been placed on IR with a wrist injury. Bellemare has surprisingly played well this season and been the key to a solid fourth line. Oscar Lindberg is expected to fill the center role on that line. Ryan Carpenter has also seen a key emergence on that fourth line since being acquired from San Jose earlier this year. He has five goals and seven points in 12 games with Vegas.
– Gerard Gallant said this afternoon that his lineup is in flux a bit at the moment with some game-time decisions ahead for tonight. Gallant mentioned James Neal as one questionable name who is still dealing with an illness carried over from last week.

Schedule Spot
– Anaheim dropped the opener of their four game road trip in Detroit before rebounding with big wins in Chicago and Minnesota. They’ll wrap up the trip tonight but they actually went straight home after Saturday’s game in Minnesota. The Ducks had a strong practice at home on Sunday and then flew into Vegas this morning which is yet another new tactic we haven’t seen a team try as they look to avoid the “Vegas Flu”.

– Vegas has won three in a row at T-Mobile Arena as they’ll play the fifth of a seven game homestand. Life continues to be good for the Golden Knights but they’ll have one of their bigger tests tonight with the hard-hitting Ducks in town. Vegas is 3-0 against Anaheim this season but the Ducks haven’t faced them with a full lineup yet. With Kesler being questionable, they might be fortunate in that regard again. If you grabbed Anaheim earlier today then you made a good play. I don’t think there’s a big enough edge at the current number but we’ll keep an eye on this one into this evening and if Neal ends up scratched, the Ducks could be added to the card if the number stays similar.

 

 

 

-CHART EXPLANATION-

The first column is the rotation number found at the sportsbook for each game. For most of you this probably isn’t important but based on my past experience I know for a few it will be helpful. The second column is obviously each matchup for the night. The third column is the most important and I’ll come back to that in a moment.

The fourth column is the Opener which are the odds each game opened at the offshore sportsbook. I do most of my betting at Pinnacle but since that is unavailable to most Americans I’m going to be quoting odds from BetOnline who, in my opinion, are the most similar to Pinnacle odds for American bettors. It’s always good to have accounts at multiple books anyway so you can take advantage of price discrepancies.

The good thing about how I’m setting this up is it doesn’t matter where you bet your games at, you’re going to be able to know what number is okay to bet and at what point it’s no longer good. If you’re with a local who shades your lines or whatever, you might not always get to bet the same games each day, but you should never have to worry about getting a bad number or making a bad bet and hopefully that’s extremely helpful to you.

The fifth column is the current odds listed at BetOnline as of whatever time is listed below the chart. The last column is what I’m betting for the day and is likely the only column some of you will look at each day. And that’s fine, whatever works best for you, but our goal here is to not just give you a generic pick but rather help you understand the numbers a bit better. This is my first time sharing my info in such a public manner and I’m generally an impatient teacher but I’ll try and help you out as much as possible as we go along.

Back to the third column, “My Line Low/High Cut-off”. This is my current line on each game which I’ve carefully crafted. Rather than it being a single number, my process creates a varying range of where the line should fall when the market closes. If an opener is higher or lower than my range, I can usually count on the line moving toward my cut-off.

If the “Current” odds fall outside my range, then it’s a game we can bet on. If it falls inside the range, the game is a pass for me. Now, while any game that falls even 1 cent outside the range is technically open for a bet, my general rule is to only bet a game that is 8 cents or more outside the range. The higher the current odds are outside my range, the higher the edge is and chance of success.

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