With just a few weeks remaining in the 2016-17 NHL regular season, it’s time for another round of expert NHL weekend picks.
Will Alex Ovechkin and the explosive Washington Capitols man-handle their Metropolitan division rivals when they host the young Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night? Can Patrick Kane and the streaking Chicago Blackhawks continue to build on their pre-playoff momentum when they hit the road to take on the Nashville Predators? Last but not least, who’s the right pick to win and cash in when the Central Division-leading Minnesota Wild host the Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks?
Let’s find out the answers to all three questions right now.
NHL Best Bets This Weekend
Philadelphia at Washington
When: Saturday, March 4, 2017 at 7:30 PM ET
Where: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
TV: CSNP, CSMA
Analysis: The Flyers (29-26-3) will face Florida on Thursday night before facing the Caps on Saturday. Philly managed to snap a modest two-game skid by shutting out Colorado 4-0 on Tuesday. The Flyers are desperate to reach the postseason at this late juncture in the regular season.
"It was good for us, we needed that," Wayne Simmonds said after his fourth two-goal game of the season. "We desperately needed two points. We didn’t play perfect by any means, but we played well enough to get the win."
Washington will host New Jersey on Thursday night before facing the Flyers. The Caps have won three of their last four games including their convincing 4-1 win over the Rangers on Tuesday as Marcus Johansson scored twice to help league-leading Washington overcome a slow start.
The Caps are the far superior team at both ends of the ice as they rank a phenomenal third in scoring and first in defense (2.1 gpg). More importantly, the Caps are extremely focused right now as they look to improve on their second-round ouster in last season’s playoffs. Washington wins by two goals at the very least.
Pick: Washington 5 Philadelphia 2
Chicago at Nashville
When: Saturday, March 4, 2017 at 8:00 PM ET
Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN
TV: CSNC, FSTN
Analysis: The Blackhawks (40-18-5) will host the Islanders on Friday night before facing the Predators on Saturday while Nashville (32-22-9) will get it on against Montreal on Thursday night.
Chicago is one fire, having won five straight games and a blistering nine of their last 10 games overall including their 4-1 win over Pittsburgh on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks have scored at least four goals in their last five games while scoring five goals or more three times during the stretch.
The Predators have won four straight and six of their last eight games and suddenly has the look of a dangerous Stanley Cup title contender as they’ve scored four goals or more in each of their last six games while scoring five goals in four of those contests, including their 5-4 overtime win over Buffalo on Tuesday.
With the way these two teams are scoring goals lately, combined with the fact that Nashville has played over the 5.5-goal total in each of their last 10 games tells me that the Over is a lock for this matchup. Keep it simple people and play the Over 5.5 goals.
Pick: Over 5.5 goals
San Jose at Minnesota
When: Sunday, March 5, 2017 at 6:00 PM ET
Where: Xcel Energy Center, Minneapolis, MN
TV: CSCA, FSN
Analysis: San Jose (37-18-7) will square off against Vancouver on Thursday night before facing Minnesota (41-14-6) while the Wild will go up against Columbus also on Thursday before matching up against the Sharks.
The Sharks have won two straight and three of their last four games, but San Jose is just 4-6 over their last 10 games overall. Conversely, Minnesota has won two in row, four of their last five games and seven of 10 overall.
While I don’t expect the Sharks to roll over easily simply because they have a phenomenal defense that ranks second in the league in goals allowed (2.3 gpg), the Wild are the pick to get the one-goal win as they rank a stellar second in scoring (3.4 gpg) and fourth in goals allowed (2.4 gpg).
Pick: Minnesota 3 San Jose 2