The Thursday NHL card is a busy one with 9 games on the slate. I’m looking to extend my current 15-10 60% streak with my NHL betting recommendations here in my series of NHL betting preview articles for Line Movement. It’s time to go for the green once again and time to take a look at some of the betting opportunities that I feel are worthy of your dollar on Thursday night.
Ottawa Senators @ Toronto Maple Leafs
This will be the third consecutive head-to-head encounter this week between the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs. It will be the rubber match after the teams split the first two meetings. Ottawa rallied from a 5-1 deficit to stun Toronto 6-5 on Monday night but Toronto rebounded to earn a hard fought, tight checking 2-1 win last night. I expect the goals to once again return to the forefront in the finale of this three game series.
Ottawa and Toronto combined for 20 high danger scoring chances in last night’s 2-1 Leafs victory and often that should extrapolate to more goals than just three total goals scored. However, the goaltending from Matt Murray and Frederik Andersen was solid, and there were some missed opportunities with several of those excellent chances. Those are more likely to result in goals in this game especially with the possibility that these teams will turn to their backup goalie for this matchup.
Marcus Hogberg could be the starting goalie in net for Ottawa in this game while it’s expected that Toronto will finally give Andersen a much-needed rest and go with Michael Hutchinson who would be making his first start since returning to the Leafs during the offseason after a brief stint in Colorado last season. Hogberg has struggled to the tune of a 4.32 GAA and .860 save percentage while Hutchinson has career numbers in the NHL that are not all that impressive with a save percentage of .905 in his career. It’s also worth noting Hutchinson hasn’t played a game yet this season so expecting him to be sharp and in top form may be an unreasonable assumption. The over is a strong 7-2 in the last 9 meetings between the Senators and Leafs in Toronto. After a low-scoring game last night which featured plenty of chances but great goaltending, I expect much lesser goaltending on both sides here which should open the door for both teams to find the back of the net early and often in this game.
Ottawa/Toronto Over 6.5 -105
Nashville Predators @ Columbus Blue Jackets
I’ve recommended several bets against this Nashville Predators team in these articles during the course of the season and I’m once again doing so here as the Predators take on the Blue Jackets who are sure to be fired up and in a bounce back frame of mind after Columbus saw an early 3-1 lead against Carolina on Tuesday night quickly evaporate as the Hurricanes exploded for six straight goals in a 7-3 victory. That is now two losses in a row for Columbus but I expect to see their ‘A’ game here against a struggling and very beatable Nashville squad. The Predators are having trouble right now in all areas. Their 5-on-5 offense and defense has been pedestrian at best and their special teams are terrible as the Preds are 23rd in the NHL on the power play and 30th in the NHL on the penalty kill. The Predators have allowed 3.5 goals per game ranking them 26th in the NHL and they have averaged only 2.3 goals scored per game which puts them ahead of only Detroit and Anaheim.
Nashville is 2-6 in their last 8 games and the two victories were against lowly Detroit and a miracle comeback win in OT against Florida where the Predators erased a two-goal deficit in the final two minutes of the game. Things aren’t about to get any easier for Nashville here as they face a Columbus Blue Jackets team returning home after consecutive losses to Chicago and Carolina. The Jackets took a 3-1 lead early in their game on Tuesday night against the Hurricanes but allowed six straight goals after that to drop a 7-3 decision.
Joonas Korpisalo has struggled in net lately for Columbus prompting head coach John Tortorella to go with Elvis Merzlikins in net for this game in order to give Korpisalo a physical and mental rest which he really needs at this point. The Blue Jackets have seen their offense improve since acquiring Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic from the Winnipeg Jets but the defensive play for them has slipped. I expect them to bring a much better and tighter effort defensively here against a team that is having immense trouble finding the back of the net. I like Columbus to bring a strong bounce-back effort here against a reeling Nashville squad.
San Jose Sharks @ St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues will finally play a team other than the Arizona Coyotes for the first time in eight games as they look to get back in the win column after losing 1-0 in the finale of their seven consecutive game series against the Coyotes. St. Louis should be ready to get their offense ignited again in this game against a San Jose squad that has struggled to keep the puck out of their own net. The Sharks have surrendered 3.57 goals per game this season which should be a welcome sight for the Blues after getting shut out by the Coyotes in their most recent game.
San Jose begins their road trip here in St. Louis after earning a 3-2 win against Anaheim in their last game. The Sharks were able to put a rare good defensive game on the board against one of the worst offensive teams in the NHL but it will be much tougher to try and replicate that performance here against the Blues who could have defenseman Torey Krug and forward Jaden Schwartz back from injury for this game.
San Jose is 0-6 in their last six games following a win which speaks to why they have had a difficult start to the season as they have been unable to string wins together and will be in challenging to do so here against a St. Louis team that is superior, getting healthier and looking to bounce back strong after losing to Arizona on Monday. I like St. Louis to get the win here but I will bet them in regulation at a far more manageable price tag of -130 and I also like this game to go over the total. The over is 8-3 in San Jose’s last 11 games as a road underdog. The over is also a perfect 5-0 this season for St. Louis in games in which their previous game went under the total. The Blues have yet to cash back-to-back unders all season long. Following a 1-0 shutout loss to Arizona, I expect St. Louis to find their offensive footing against a bottom-tier defensive team and San Jose to contribute enough scoring as well to help send this game over the total.
St. Louis In Regulation -130
San Jose/St. Louis Over 5.5 -125
Best of the rest of my NHL wagers for Thursday…
NY Islanders/Pittsburgh Over 5.5 -115
Los Angeles +140 (vs. Arizona)
Minnesota -130 (vs. Anaheim)