Sabres @ Flyers
Pick: Flyers in Regulation (-160)
This season has been a difficult one for the Buffalo Sabres. They currently hold a 6-14-3 record and their 15 points are good for last in the league. Buffalo is currently on a seven-game losing streak, and their -23 goal differential is third-worst in the league. Nothing seems to be going right, and they will be without Jack Eichel tonight, as he is dealing with an upper body injury. His 18 points in 21 games leads the team, and without him on the ice, generating offense might be a challenge. The Sabres are 30th in goals per game with 2.17, and without their best offensive threat not on the ice, it could be a tough night. The Flyers are right in the middle of the playoff mix in the East, and this is a game in which they need to take care of business. They are not in a position to be losing to lesser teams, and I think they will come out strong on their home ice. Philly is 6-3-2 at home, while the Sabres are 4-7-1 on the road. Carter Hart will be in net, and although he has had a rough go of it in his last two starts (4.18 GAA and .852 SV%), those were against the Penguins and the Capitals—two much higher-caliber offenses than the Sabres. This is a spot for him to get back on track, and I think the Flyers can get it done in regulation tonight.
Rangers @ Penguins
Pick: Penguins ML (-170)
The Penguins have been dominate at home this season, as they have a record of 10-2-0 at PPG Paints Arena. They easily handled the Rangers on Sunday, cruising to a 5-1 victory thanks to three goals in 61 seconds in the first period. New York No. 1 goaltender Igor Shesterkin was sidelined with a lower body injury, and backup Alexandar Georgiev gave up three goals on six shots. Shesterkin is now listed as day-to-day, and it appears that Keith Kinkaid will get his first start of the season tonight. Kinkaid replaced Georgiev on Sunday and stopped 16 of 18 shots in just over two periods of action, and will face a tough first start of 2021 against a strong Penguins team that has won three of their last four. The Rangers put together a nice little three-game winning streak before that loss on Sunday, but those three wins were against Buffalo and New Jersey, who are the only teams below NY in the East. Pittsburgh is a much better team, especially at home, and I think the Pens get their 11th home win of the season tonight.
Bruins @ Islanders
Pick: Under 5.5 (-140)
Both of these teams have seen more Unders than Overs this season (New York: 14 Unders, 10 Overs / Boston: 12 Unders, 9 Overs), and both teams have very strong defensive units. The Islanders are 3rd in the league in goals against per game with 2.20, and the Bruins are right behind them at 4th with 2.41. The Isles have really been able to stymie the Bruins so far this season, as in the three matchups between these teams in 2021, the B’s have just four total goals. This game should also feature some very good goaltending. Semyon Varlamov has been a beast for the Islanders, posting a .926 SV% and 2.10 GAA, along with three shutouts. Tuukka Rask may be out tonight, but backup Jaroslav Halak has posted strong numbers: five wins in eight starts with a .913 SV% and 2.24 GAA. He is also coming off a masterful performance against the high-octane Washington Capitals. Halak picked up the win and allowed just one goal on 32 shots to a Washington team that is scoring 3.21 goals per game. I think he will be able to build off that performance going into tonight. Special teams may also be a factor in this one staying Under the total. The Bruins have the league’s best PK at 89.2%, and the Islanders are 7th at 83.3%. I think all of this points to a lower-scoring game that could be a defensive battle.
Player Prop to Think About: Mitch Marner to have at least 2 points vs. Winnipeg (+130)
Marner has 34 points through 26 games this season, and that is good for 4th in the league. He has been lighting it up so far, but he has been held pointless in back-to-back games now. He has only been held without a point in two straight games one other time this season, and in the third game he got back on track with a goal and an assist against Edmonton on Feb. 27. The Leafs have had two days off since their last game, and are back at home after a five-game road trip that featured five games in eight days. Marner should be rested and ready to roll. Marner potted two goals against Winnipeg in their only matchup this season back on Jan. 18, and considering he has been held without a goal in four straight games, which is his longest drought of the season, I like his odds to score a goal at +170 as well.
Best of luck. Cheers.
Title Photo: Tom Szczerbowski / USA TODAY Sports