Last Updated: 2019-03-31
Does your life lack excitement? You’re in luck. The NHL regular season ends this week and then we can all know what it feels like to take Adderall laced with speed during the NHL playoffs. The 82-game marathon ends on Saturday and the sprint to 16 wins begins the middle of next week.
This is a week where I would honestly tread lightly in the NHL. You’ll be paying a premium on every playoff contender in a “must-win spot” and the bad teams may not show up with much of an effort. In games where neither team is all that invested, you’ll be able to find some over betting opportunities and whatnot. Outside of that, I’d be really cautious this week.
Here are the NHL situational spots to consider for the week ending April 7, 2019:
Monday April 1
Tampa Bay Lightning at Ottawa Senators – What will Tampa Bay come with to start this road trip? After losing in the regular season home finale to Washington, in a game that started after a celebration for the Presidents Trophy, the Lightning head north to Ottawa to take on the Senators. I can’t see the Bolts going all out on this trip. They’ve spent time chasing down the NHL wins record in a season, so they haven’t given many guys a blow. That should happen this week. The Senators are awful. Instead of looking at them, though the plus money price is likely worth a half-unit bet, the over is what I’d be looking at. With the games dwindling in importance for TB this week, and a lot of high-scoring games recently anyway, I’d expect goals in this one and on this trip.
Winnipeg Jets at Chicago Blackhawks – The Blackhawks aren’t mathematically eliminated yet, but they might as well be. How invested will they be in playing spoiler this week? The Jets play four road games in six days in their quest to win the Central Division, so they have a lot on the line this week. Chicago is back home after a road trip, so we’ll see how they show up. I’m not sure I could take either team here, but the spots are interesting.
Colorado Avalanche at St. Louis Blues – The Blues have already clinched their spot in the postseason, but that may not be enough. They are only two points back in the Central Division thanks to a huge 27-10-4 run. The Avs are in must-win mode, as they can ill afford a loss in this game in the chase for the Wild Card. That adds extra pressure to a team that is dealing with a lot right now, including injuries. I think the Blues, if the price is reasonable, say -160 or so, are the right side, but I’d also look at the under. Philipp Grubauer is playing really well and so is Jordan Binnington. Games that matter are usually played a little tighter. Also, Colorado’s injuries limit their offensive upside.
Edmonton Oilers at Vegas Golden Knights – The Golden Knights just played the Blues, Avs, Wild, and Sharks last week. That Sharks game was especially spirited. This feels like a flat spot to the extreme. With two days off until playing Arizona, I feel like Vegas could suffer a major letdown here. On the other hand, Vegas might step up and blow out Edmonton after suffering a fifth straight loss. Maybe that keeps the team focused. I’m thinking that the problems just run a bit deeper than that. Of course, another angle here is an Edmonton team that doesn’t really care with Sunday night off in Vegas. I think this will be a big line that Vegas doesn’t deserve, so I might take a shot with Edmonton, but there are some reservations.
Tuesday April 2
Nashville Predators at Buffalo Sabres – The Sabres are pathetic right now. Quite frankly, they have been for a while. It has been embarrassing for the city and the franchise. On the surface, this looks like a tough spot for Nashville with a standalone road game, but the Sabres have no interest whatsoever right now. Nashville all the way here as a pricy road favorite. If you want, you can find a ML parlay piece, but I’d be shocked if Nashville loses. This is also the sixth game in nine days for the Sabres.
Boston Bruins at Columbus Blue Jackets – This is quite a spot. The Blue Jackets are in must-win mode and have been for a while. They’ve actually righted the ship and have been playing well. This is the final home game of the year for the Jackets, unless they find a way into the playoffs. They head into this one with a one-point lead over the Hurricanes and a two-point lead over the Canadiens. It will be a very anxious crowd on Tuesday night. As for the Bruins, who really haven’t played that well away from home, I’m not sure how they show in this game. I’d have to look at Columbus, as they are playing as well as they have all season and this is a game where home ice advantage should matter a lot.
Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens – So, this is a fun one. The Bolts are in a back-to-back with travel. The Canadiens are fighting for what could very well be the final playoff spot and a date with Tampa Bay in the first round. I don’t think Tampa Bay gives up any information here. I’d fully expect this to be a punt from the Bolts. They also have the chance to try and control their fate. My guess is that they’d rather see Montreal than Carolina or Columbus, so there’s a little bit of gamesmanship here as well. Give me the home team.
Edmonton Oilers at Colorado Avalanche – Here’s an obvious spot. The Oilers are in a back-to-back with the second game at elevation. The big question here is the status of Colorado’s playoff hopes. If the balloon is popped by this point in time, it’s hard to see Colorado excited about this one. There’s a very good chance that they are. At that point, maybe Edmonton becomes playable.
San Jose Sharks at Vancouver Canucks – I’d be worried about the Sharks here as they hit the road for a swing through Vancouver and Edmonton. Just because they knocked off Vegas on Saturday doesn’t mean that things are peachy. This is a team that hit a big wall recently. Maybe one win gets the positive vibes going, but this one could still be a struggle against a Canucks team wrapping up its home games for the season. I’d be looking at the home dog.
Wednesday April 3
Calgary Flames at Anaheim Ducks – The Ducks are 29-1 against the Flames in the last 30 games at the Honda Center. That’s not a typo. Calgary’s only win came October 9, 2017. This is the second visit for Calgary to Anaheim. The first one was a 3-2 loss. This is one of those ultra quirky stats in sports that is largely meaningless, but I guarantee you that the Flames know about this dubious distinction. I’d expect a max effort in this one just to stop hearing about it.
Thursday April 4
Montreal Canadiens at Washington Capitals – Talk about having to earn a playoff spot. The Canadiens may end up needing some help and six points against the Lightning, Capitals, and Maple Leafs. The Capitals have plenty of their own to be playing for. This is a tough spot for Montreal with the standalone road game and the additional pressure. Washington knows the pressure of this time of the year. I’d be looking at them in this spot.
Ottawa Senators at Buffalo Sabres – The Sabres have to get this one, right? This is the final home game for Buffalo and a back-to-back for the Senators. The home crowd wasn’t kind to Buffalo on Sunday, as the Sabres got trounced at home playing a fifth game in seven days. This would be a seventh game in 11 days, so I don’t know how much is in the tank, but they have to show some pride here, right? I’ll pay to see it. We’ll see if I wind up disappointed.
Winnipeg Jets at Colorado Avalanche – This could be a potential landmine for the Jets. The Avalanche won’t get much respect because their playoff dreams should be over, but that simply means that guys will be gunning for points. They’ll be playing free and easy. The Jets don’t have the luxury. If Colorado heightens the pace of this game, this is a third road game in four days for the Jets and it will be at elevation. I’d have to be looking at the Avs here, as long as their elimination hangover is over.
Friday April 5 & Saturday April 6
I’ll just speak in general about Friday and Saturday here. Everybody that plays on Friday plays on Saturday except for the Anaheim Ducks, who are the odd team out on Saturday. They should have some extra incentive on Friday to close out the season with a win over the Kings.
The Jackets and Stars play inferior foes and will be in inflated must-win spots. There will be some of those on Saturday as well. Keep in mind on Saturday that what happens in earlier games may impact later games. For example, Nashville plays at 8 p.m. ET and Winnipeg is on the road at Arizona at 10 p.m. ET. Depending on how the Nashville game goes, the Jets may know if they have a shot at the division or will finish second.
You’ll just have to revisit everything as the weekend approaches in terms of betting angles to capitalize on.
It’s been a fun season. Hope you learned some stuff and cashed some tickets. Enjoy the playoffs and please continue to enjoy Parker Michaels’s daily NHL picks for the postseason.
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