Check out the Betway Insider’s NHL predictions page for best bets throughout the 2020-21 NHL season.
Toronto Maple Leafs to beat Ottawa Senators
Toronto recovered from Monday’s embarrassing 6-5 overtime loss to the Senators – during which they blew a 5-1 lead – by earning a tight 2-1 win over Ottawa on Wednesday. The pesky Sens have definitely given Toronto some fits this season, but it’s still a safer play to give the nod to the more consistent offense of the Maple Leafs in any matchup between the two sides.
The only thing that remains unclear is which of Toronto’s goalies will get the start. Head coach Sheldon Keefe could give back-to-back starts to Frederik Andersen, who made 27 saves in Wednesday’s victory. Or he could go with Michael Hutchinson, currently in the Leafs lineup for injured backup Jack Campbell. Hutchinson has not played a minute of hockey yet this season and last saw action between the pipes with Colorado during last season’s playoffs. Regardless of who the Leafs go with in goal, I’d still expect them to be able to out-score Ottawa.
Auston Matthews has scored four of his league-leading 14 goals this season against the Senators. He very well could be going up against Marcus Hogberg, who has a rough .860 save percentage so far this season and allowed two goals against Matthews on Monday.
The MVP candidate has points in every game but one so far this season and is currently riding 14-game point streak. I would not anticipate that streak stalling Thursday.
New York Rangers to beat Philadelphia Flyers
The Rangers recently played a team coming off of a long COVID-protocol layoff, losing 5-2 to the New Jersey Devils at home. Now they have to go on the road and play a Flyers squad that has a bit more depth and is coming off of their own 11-day break. Depth is going to be important because the Flyers still have multiple key players out of the lineup for Thursday night’s matchup.
Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Travis Konecny, Oscar Lindblom and Scott Laughton are among the Flyers still sidelined and unavailable for the game. Meanwhile, the Rangers are getting both Artemi Panarin and standout rookie defenseman K’Andre Miller back in the lineup after each missed some time while banged up. The Rangers can’t seem to get everyone healthy at the same time though, as defenseman Jacob Trouba is out long-term with an upper-body injury. On paper, however, the Flyers’ losses are all more significant than any of what the Rangers are dealing with.
This is a tough game to get a read on due to all of the players missing and the Flyers coming off of the long layoff, but the Rangers have a great opportunity to get themselves out of the four-game slide they’re currently in. Panarin should provide a boost to an offense that has struggled to score, but I’d expect a tight game.
Arizona Coyotes to beat Los Angeles Kings
Fresh off of winning four of seven straight games against the St. Louis Blues, I’m feeling the Coyotes a little bit here. The Kings had a great game Tuesday night when they shut out the Minnesota Wild 4-0, but the Coyotes are rolling a little bit and should have the added confidence of winning a hard-fought series against one of the top teams in the West.
One reason to really like the Coyotes heading into this game is the balanced scoring they’re getting up front. Conor Garland has been on a tear this season with 14 points in 15 games to lead the team. Christian Dvorak appears to be having his breakout season with a team-best seven goals.
Goatender Darcy Kuemper, meanwhile, has routinely given the Coyotes a chance to win every game he’s in. He’s 5-6-1 with a .919 save percentage after eight quality starts in 12 appearances.
You never quite know what you’re going to get with the Kings. Their offense seemingly woke up with 10 goals over their last two games, but that came on the heels of a five-game winless skid over which they scored 12 goals total.
The Kings have also struggled away from home, losing four of six as the away team.
Anaheim Ducks to beat Minnesota Wild
In a battle between two of the lowest scoring teams in the league, I’m always going to lean on the side with the better goaltending. That would be the Ducks and John Gibson, who has stolen a few games for his club this season.
Gibson already shut the Wild out once this year – the first of his league-leading three blankings. He has a .921 save percentage over his 13 appearances. His offense, meanwhile, is averaging a league worst 1.94 goals per game. If not for Gibson, the Ducks would be in serious trouble.
The Wild’s rust and lack of depth after an extended COVID-protocol break showed in their 4-0 loss to Los Angeles on Tuesday night. They have a patchwork blueline at the moment as well, with players injured or still on the NHL’s COVID protocol list.
Jared Spurgeon, Ian Cole and Jonas Brodin all have been out and it is unclear if they will be cleared to play Thursday. The same is true for starting goalie Cam Talbot, who was not in the lineup and was still on the COVID protocol list on Tuesday.
The Ducks have value on them in this particular matchup and I’ll be putting my faith in Gibson to shut the door and give his team a chance to come out with a win.
Arizona Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks to win
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