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NHL Best Bets: Flyers Should Score at Will on Sharks

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL returned from its Christmas break on Friday with an action-packed slate of games and hopes to keep the excitement rolling for the second day in a row. There are nine games on tap tonight, including an Original Six battle between the Rangers and Maple Leafs. Other notable games include the Canadiens taking on the Lightning, the Capitals squaring off against the Hurricanes and the battle for first place in the Pacific Division between the Coyotes and Golden Knights.

There’s plenty to wager on, but let’s take a closer look at two games in particular. Here are my two best bets for Saturday:

Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes: Capitals (+100)

Because of the weird scheduling around the holiday break, both teams are playing their second game in as many nights. The Capitals defeated the Blue Jackets 2-1 in overtime at home on Friday while the Hurricanes fell 5-3 to the Rangers in New York.

Washington is likely rolling out starting goaltender Braden Holtby for this game after starting surging backup Ilya Samsonov last night. Carolina is expected to counter with Petr Mrazek, who just came off a pretty solid month-and-a-half run before allowing 11 goals in the last three games. Advantage: Capitals in the goaltending matchup.

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Even though Holtby has been very up and down lately, he’s still the far superior goaltender. Mrazek has really struggled against strong offensive teams like Toronto and Florida. Both of those teams rank behind Washington, the second-highest scoring team in the NHL.

The Capitals have been a superb road team as well, with a record of 16-4-1 away from Capital One Arena. The Hurricanes, on the other hand, have been just OK at home. They’re 10-6 this season at PNC Arena, right at league average in points percentage at home.

Washington being an underdog in this matchup is a little strange with neither team having a rest advantage. There’s too much value here not to bet on the best team in the NHL.

Philadelphia Flyers vs. San Jose Sharks: Over 6 goals (-110)

This game should be a goal fest, even if it’s mostly one sided. The Flyers roll into the Shark Tank as a well-rested unit riding a four-game winning streak. In those four games, Philadelphia scored a total of 20 goals. Awaiting them is a Sharks team that’s allowed the second-most goals per game in the NHL and a goalie (Martin Jones) stopping fewer than 89% of the shots against him. If that’s not enough, the Sharks will be a tired team after blowing a 2-0 lead against the Kings and losing in overtime on Friday night.

Everything is setting up for a Flyers beatdown, which usually happens with a goal barrage. I wouldn’t expect more than a pair of goals from the Sharks, but that should be all bettors need for the over to hit. If you want to push more of your chips into the center of the table, you might consider parlaying the Flyers moneyline with the over at around +230 odds.

Season Record: 18-13-1 (+4.2 units)