NHL Best Bets: Backing the Blues Won't Make You Sad

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Happy Saturday! There are 28 teams in action throughout the day, with games starting as early as 12:30 p.m. EST. The Canucks bring their red-hot power-play unit into the nation’s capital to face off against the Capitals in a matinee game. The Maple Leafs hope to build off their first win under their new head coach as they continue their road trip in Colorado. Two of the best teams in the Pacific Division, the Oilers and Golden Knights, face off in Sin City. Plus, the NHL’s hottest team hopes to extend its point streak to a whopping 17 games, as the Islanders travel to the Shark Tank to take on San Jose.

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:

Florida Panthers vs. Carolina Hurricanes: Over 6.5 goals (-120)

Let’s go back to the Panthers well once more, shall we? Let me remind you of some wild stats that continued to pay off for bettors on Thursday night and hopefully will continue tonight. The Panthers have only played in two games over the last month that finished with fewer than seven total goals. Florida’s games are averaging 7.8 goals per game since Oct. 24. The Panthers just rallied from a 4-0 deficit to beat the Ducks 5-4 in overtime. In the process, they took over as the highest-scoring team in the NHL with an average of 3.68 goals per game, although they’re scoring more than four goals per game in November.

The Hurricanes haven’t struggled to score lately, either. They’re averaging nearly five goals per game over their last five and rank No. 7 in the NHL in scoring at 3.45 goals per game. Both teams rank in the top 10 in shots on goal and on the power play.

It doesn’t matter who’s in net for these teams playing in the first game of a back-to-back with other teams this weekend. Goals will be scored. Let’s ride the hot streak.

Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues: Blues (-120)

This is a battle of two teams heading in opposite directions. The Predators have lost six games in a row and eight of their last nine. Their only win of November was against the Red Wings, the worst team in the NHL. Their goaltending has been particularly bad lately. Former Vezina Trophy winner Pekka Rinne has been uncharacteristically poor. He’s allowed 18 goals on 78 shots (.769 save percentage) since that win over Detroit on Nov. 4 and was pulled from Thursday night’s game against Vancouver.

The Blues, on the other hand, are 11-2-2 over the last month and now sit atop the Central Division. Goaltender Jordan Binnington is following up his magical rookie season with a sophomore campaign that’s been just as good so far. If the offense heats up like it did against Calgary on Thursday, the rest of the Western Conference better watch out.

Pay close attention to how many opportunities the Blues get on the power play in this game. St. Louis ranks seventh in the NHL on the man advantage, finding the back of the net at a 24.3% clip. Conversely, the Predators rank dead-last in the NHL on the penalty kill. Nashville is killing only 71% of its penalties after allowing five power-play goals on Thursday night.

Season Record: 5-4-1 (-.1 units)