The NHL betting board only features five matchups on Saturday but there's still plenty of value to be found, especially with unbeaten Tampa Bay and Montreal in action.
We're going to look at Tampa Bay's continued defensive dominance, the Canucks begging for the Habs to leave Vancouver and the pesky Kings just hanging around, as we break down the hockey odds and give you our best daily NHL picks and predictions for Saturday, January 23.
NHL Picks for Today
Despite losing star forward Nikita Kucherov for the regular season due to injury, the Lightning's roster still has plenty of players that can score in bunches. But what makes the defending champs truly scary is their ability to clamp down defensively behind a deep blue line—and arguably the best goaltender in the league.
Tampa Bay has given up just five goals through its first three games, with netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy stopping 80 of 85 shots and already saving his team 3.06 more goals than a league-average goalie. Yes, those games have come against weaker offenses in Chicago (twice) and Columbus, but the Blue Jackets and their 20th-ranked offense are who the Bolts will face again tonight.
Columbus has netted just 10 goals through five games, failing to register more than two goals in four of those contests. At 5-on-5 play, the Blue Jackets are 20th in the NHL with a 48.0 Fenwick For percentage, meaning their opponent has the puck more often than they do, along with a 7.1 shooting percentage at 5-on-5 (16th in the league). Columbus' powerplay has been even worse, going just 1-for-11 early in the season.
The Lightning, on the other hand, have the league's second-best 5-on-5 save percentage (.970), are fourth in Fenwick For percentage (55.3). With the Jackets' early offensive struggles this year, combined with the fact that they've also only scored 3+ goals against Tampa just twice in their last seven meetings, I'm banking on Columbus struggling again versus Vasilevskiy & Co.
PREDICTION: Columbus team total Under 2.5 (-122)
Boy, is the Habs offense ever cooking to start the season! Montreal currently leads the NHL with 24 goals scored this season and has especially enjoyed its trip out to Vancouver, scoring a whopping 12 goals over their last two games. And guess who they play again tonight? That's right, the Canadiens face the Canucks for the third straight game—and we don't expect the scoring onslaught to stop.
Montreal is fourth in the league in 5-on-5 Corsi For (shots on net + blocked shots + missed shots), and fifth in Fenwick For percentage, so they're controlling the puck and generating offensive chances while they have it. The Habs have been prolific with the man advantage as well, converting on 30 percent of their powerplay opportunities through five games—good for sixth in the league.
The first two games of the matchup saw Montreal win 6-5 in a shootout on Wednesday, then hand out a 7-3 beating on the second half of a back-to-back. The teams will get a day off before renewing hostilities, but will that slow down the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge?
Considering Vancouver goalies Braden Holtby and Thatcher Demko are both boasting sub-.900 save percentages in three starts apiece – with negative goals saved above average to boot – I'm guessing not. Let's go with Montreal's deep forward group continuing its assault on the shaky Canucks goaltending.
PREDICTION: Montreal team total Over 3.5 (+100)
They like to score...and then they don't.
The St. Louis Blues have alternated good offensive outings (nine goals in two wins) with poor scoring efforts (one goal in two losses) through four games split against the Avalanche and Sharks. Considering their last game was a 2-1 shootout loss, the pendulum swing would have us believe the Blues are due to put a crooked number on the board again...but will that be enough to put down a pesky Los Angeles Kings team?
Los Angeles came into the season with low expectations, and while it has just one win through four games, the Kings have been quite competitive. They dropped two games in overtime to the Wild, followed by a comeback attempt that just fell short against Colorado before knocking off the Avs for their first win this past Thursday.
The Kings have again been leaning on veterans Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter early in the season, while also getting good minutes from promising young center Gabriel Vilardi. They have given up an average of 3.25 goals per game so far, so I do believe St. Louis will put a few tallies on the board, but the fact that all three of the Kings' losses have been by one goal says a lot about their resilience and compete level.
Taking underdogs on the puck line doesn't always yield the best return, but oddsmakers still don't think much of the Kings, so you can get them at +1.5 for a very reasonable price—let's do it.
PREDICTION: Los Angeles +1.5 (-145)
Top NHL Consensus for Today
Want to know who today's biggest NHL betting and consensus bets are right now? Check out our top NHL consensus picks.
Yesterday's picks: 0-3 (-3.0 units)
Season record to date: 9-19-1 (-8.9 units)
NHL Betting Card for January 23
- Columbus team total Under 2.5. (-122)
- Montreal team total Over 3.5 (+100)
- Los Angeles +1.5 (-145)
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