There are 11 NHL games on tap for this Saturday, but only one matinee affair. The Canucks and Sabres meet in Buffalo at 1 p.m. ET, but all other games start at their usual nightly times. Hockey fans are keeping a close eye on the Battle of Alberta in Calgary between the Oilers and Flames, the battle in Canada’s capital between the Canadiens and Senators and the battle to potentially end Tampa Bay’s nine-game winning streak taking place in Philadelphia.
There’s plenty to wager on, but let’s take a closer look at what our two experts have deemed as their best bets:
Vancouver Canucks vs. Buffalo Sabres: Sabres (-115)
The current road trip for the Canucks has been brutal. They suffered an embarrassing 9-2 defeat at the hands of the Lightning on Tuesday, a 5-2 defeat to the Panthers on Thursday and now have to travel up to Buffalo to face one of the best home teams in the NHL with a game in Minnesota on tap for tomorrow. Let’s just say the schedule-makers did them no favors.
The Canucks are not as bad as their play this week would suggest, but they might not be able to pull out of this tailspin until they get back to Vancouver for a three-game homestand that starts on Jan. 16.
Buffalo is coming off a bad 5-1 road loss of their own, but captain Jack Eichel blamed his team’s sluggish performance on having a little too much rest. With the standard one day off between that game and this one, the Sabres should be a bit more crisp. Plus, they’ve been really good at KeyBank Center this season with a 13-5-3 record. They rank 10th in the NHL in goals for and ninth in goals against at home this season. Their only home losses in the last six weeks were against two of the best teams in the NHL, Boston and Tampa Bay.
Expect a high-energy game from the Sabres and for the Canucks to be on their heels and pondering their take off time to St. Paul. —Jaime Eisner
Dallas Stars vs. San Jose Sharks: Stars (-130)
The Stars have been an incredibly streaky team this season. Right now they’re on fire, winners of six in a row since returning from Christmas break. Everything seems to be clicking for Dallas, but especially the goaltending, which is its calling card.
In this six-game winning streak, the Stars have allowed a grand total of eight goals. No team has scored more than two and Dallas just shut out the Ducks in Anaheim on Tuesday. Both Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin have been sensational lately, so it doesn’t matter who head coach Rick Bowness puts in net on Saturday night.
The Sharks are 3-5-1 at home since the start of December and will be without star center Logan Couture for several weeks with an ankle injury. It’s just another major blow to a team that can ill afford to lose top talent as they fade further and further away from the playoff picture and face a Stars team ranked sixth in the NHL in fewest goals allowed on the road and are No. 1 in the league in that category overall.
Expect Stars forward Joe Pavelski to be fired up in his return to San Jose and spoil things for his old fans as they watch Dallas win its seventh consecutive game. —Jaime Eisner
Edmonton Oilers at Calgary Flames
Puck Line: Flames -1.5 (+175) | Oilers +1.5 (-200)
Moneyline: Flames (-145) | Oilers (+125)
Goal Total 6: OVER -110 | UNDER -110
Game Details: 10:00 p.m. ET - Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, AB, CA
Records To Date: Calgary 24-17-5 | Edmonton 24-17-5
Provincial rivals meet when Calgary hosts Edmonton for the second “Battle of Alberta” this season. The Flames won the first meeting as they blasted the Oilers 5-1 in Edmonton on December 27. Calgary has been streaky this season, as the Flames have been winning and losing in bunches. In good form recently, Calgary has won four straight including a 2-1 victory at home over Minnesota on Thursday night. The Stampede City crew is 12-7-3 at home this season.
Perennial underachievers for several seasons now, Edmonton completes a five-game road trip with a visit to Calgary. Following a 4-2 win in Montreal on Thursday, the Oilers are riding a three-game winning streak. Edmonton opened its road swing with a 3-2 OT loss in Buffalo, a 4-1 victory in Boston and a 6-4 win in Toronto. Although they have a solid 14-9-2 record on the road, the Oilers being somewhat travel weary is a slight concern for those backing Edmonton.
Flames vs. Oilers Final Thoughts and Prediction
Calgary and Edmonton sit in a third place tie in the Pacific Division and are just one point out of first. Defense keeping up with the offense is an issue for both teams as the Oilers (-3) and Flames (-9) have a negative GF/GA differential. Edmonton superstars Connor McDavid (70) and Leon Draisaitl (69) sit one-two at the top the NHL point-scoring race. Well back, Matthew Tkachuk (38) and Johnny Gaudreau (36) are the leading point producers for Calgary.
These squads split the four-game season series last year as the Oilers won 3-1 in Calgary and 1-0 at home while the Flames won 5-2 in Edmonton and 4-2 at home. Calgary needs to stay out of the penalty box as Edmonton leads the NHL with 41 power-play goals while the Flames have 26. Playoffs races are heating up so this addition of the Battle of Alberta will be a high-energy contest. Take the pucks and back the Oilers who have a shot at winning outright here.
Pick: Edmonton Oilers +1.5 Puck Line (-200) —Roy Larking
Columbus Blue Jackets at Vegas Golden Knights
Puck Line: Golden Knights -1.5 (+115) | Blue Jackets +1.5 (-135)
Moneyline: Golden Knights (-220) | Blue Jackets (+190)
Goal Total 5.5: OVER -110 | UNDER -105
Game Details: 10:00 p.m. ET - T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV
Records To Date: Blue Jackets 21-16-8 | Golden Knights 24-17-6
Columbus cruises into Sin City following a three-game run through California. The Blue Jackets are playing the final match of a four-game road trip. Columbus won 4-2 in Los Angeles and 4-3 in Anaheim before losing 3-1 in San Jose during its last game on Thursday. Sitting sixth overall, the Blue Jackets are 15 points out of first in the highly competitive Metropolitan Division. Columbus is two points out of an Eastern Conference Wild Card position.
Proving many pundits wrong by making the playoffs during each of its first two seasons, Vegas continues to play at a high level. After 47 games last season, the Golden Knights had 58 points. They have 54 points this year and are tied with Arizona for first in the Pacific division. After winning the first four contests, during a seven-game home stand, Vegas lost 4-3 to Pittsburgh on Tuesday and 5-2 to the Los Angeles Kings during its last game action on Thursday.
Golden Knights vs. Blue Jackets Final Thoughts and Prediction
Playing decently at T-Mobile Arena, the Golden Knights are 14-9-3 at home this season. Columbus has held it own as visitors as the Blue Jackets are 9-7-6 on the road. Potent on offense, Vegas are averaging 3.11 goals per game but the Golden Knights are middle of the pack allowing 3.02 GPG on defense. The Blue Jackets have opposite numbers, as Columbus has struggled on offense, scoring 2.62 GPG, but are playing solid defense allowing just 2.71 GPG.
This is just the sixth meeting all-time between these teams with Columbus holding a 3-2 record over Vegas. Columbus swept the season series 2-0 last year winning 1-0 at home and 4-3 in Las Vegas. Playing the second of two games this year, Vegas won the first meeting 2-1 in Columbus. Led by Max Pacioretty (45), five players have at least 31 points for the Golden Knights. Pierre-Luc Dubois (33) and Gustav Quist (31) are the only Columbus players scoring at that level.
Pick: Vegas Golden Knights -220 ML —Roy Larking
Dallas Stars at San Jose Sharks
Puck Line: Stars -1.5 (+205) | Sharks +1.5 (-235)
Moneyline: Stars (-130) | Sharks (+110)
Goal Total 5.5: OVER +105 | UNDER -125
Details: 10:30 p.m. ET - SAP Center in San Jose, CA
Records To Date: Dallas 26-14-4 | San Jose 20-22-4
Recent Injury: Sharks leading scorer Logan Couture is out.
Closing out the Saturday night NHL schedule, hot meets cold when Dallas visits San Jose. The Stars enter this contest riding a six-game winning streak and are playing the third of four road games. In the first two contests, Dallas defeated Los Angeles 2-1 and then took down Anaheim 3-0 during its last match on Thursday. Recovering from a dismal 1-7-1 start, the Stars have lost just seven times over their last 35 games and sit second overall in the Central Division.
San Jose was also slow out of the gate with a 4-10-1 record in early November. Turning things around, the Sharks went 11-2-0 over the next 13 games but have regressed since then. Wins have been rare recently as the Sharks have stumbled during a 5-10-3 losing skid. This is the second of a mini two-game home stand that began with San Jose posting a 3-1 victory over the Blue Jackets during its last match at the Shark Tank on Thursday night.
Sharks vs. Stars Final Thoughts and Prediction
Defense leads the way for Dallas as the Stars goaltending tandem of Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin have been a rock solid while allowing a league low 2.34 goals per game. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Dallas is eighth from the bottom scoring just 2.68 goals per game on offense. San Jose is struggling at both ends of the rink as they sit bottom six averaging just 2.65 goals per game while the Sharks defense is seventh worst in the NHL allowing 3.28 GPG.
After the Stars won the season series 2-1 last year, Dallas and San Jose are playing the first of three games this season. Dallas posted 3-2 and 4-3 victories at home prior to losing 3-2 in San Jose during the last meeting on Dec. 13, 2018. All were decided by one goal, and none of the three matches went into overtime. The Stars have an advantage on defense and the low-scoring Dallas offense faces the Sharks' weak defense. Bet on Dallas to win with the moneyline price.
Pick: Dallas Stars -130 ML—Roy Larking
Eisner Season Record: 22-19-1 (+1.72 units)
Larking Season Record: 8-10 (-3.40 units)