With the 2017-18 NHL regular season moving closer toward the one month mark, teams in both conferences are starting to reveal the strengths and weaknesses – and in some cases (sorry Arizona) just weaknesses. All attempts at humor aside, with the start of a brand new week on tap, let’s get started with my trio of NHL expert picks of the week.
NHL Expert Picks Nov 6 – 12
St. Louis (11-3-1) at New Jersey (9-3)
When: 7:00 PM ET, Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Where: Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey
Analysis: St. Louis has won five of their last six games and seven of nine overall while New Jersey dropped two straight by losing to Edmonton and Calgary on Friday and Saturday nights respectively. The Blues are tied for the most wins in the league heading into the new week (11) despite putting up some really pedestrian statistics outside of their impressive, fifth-ranked goals against average of 2.4 per contest.
Ironically, the Red Devils rank fifth in scoring (3.6 gpg), but they also aren’t very good in allowing 3.2 goals per game defensively (20th). New Jersey has gone 4-2 at home so far this season, but St. Louis is 5-2-1 on the road this season. For me, the Blues are the right pick to get another road win in this Tuesday night matchup, seeing as how they’ve turned ‘winning ugly’ into an art form in the early going this season. New Jersey has been outshot in nine of their 11 games while ranking an uninspiring fourth in average shots allowed, at 34.5 per game.
Pick: St. Louis
Tampa Bay (11-2-2) at San Jose (8-5)
When: Wednesday, November 8 at 10:30 PM ET
Where: SAP Center, San Jose, CA
Analysis: Tampa Bay has gone 7-2-1 over their last 10 and hit the new week coming off a thrilling 5-4 shootout win over Columbus on Saturday. San Jose however, has also been playing solid hockey as well recently in going 7-3 over their last 10 including their 2-1 shootout win over Anaheim on Saturday. Although the Lightning are lighting the lamp at a high rate this season, I’m going to urge you to back the Sharks in this home matchup even though Tampa Bay is putting up a league-high 3.9 goals per game while also ranking ninth in goals allowed at 2.7 per contest.
San Jose is playing excellent defense in limiting the opposition to just 2.3 goals per game to rank second overall. I know the Sharks rank an uninspiring 21st in scoring (2.7 gpg), but they’ve also won four straight and five of six coming into this contest and are scoring the puck a lot better than they were to start the season, having scored three or more goals in three of their last five. I’m going with the Sharks in a tight contest.
Pick: San Jose
Pittsburgh (8-6-2) at Washington (7-6-1)
When: Friday November 10 at 7:00 PM ET
Where: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Analysis: The Penguins have lost four of five and I’m not sure if it’s because they’ve got a two-time Stanley Cup hangover and are just waiting until mid-season to kick it into high gear or whether they’re really missing veteran goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, although I suspect it’s a bit of both.
Washington has won three of four after losing four of their previous five. Washington has scored 12 combined goals over their last three wins while giving up a modest seven goals in the trio of contests. The Caps are ranked a modest 16th in scoring (3.0 gpg) and uninspiring 22nd in goals allowed at 3.3 per night.
Still, Washington is the pick to take down a Pittsburgh team that is ranked an ‘ugly’ 26th in both, scoring (2.6 gpg) and goals allowed (3.6 gpg).