Happy Thursday, hockey bettors. There are ten NHL games on the slate tonight, including a trio of contests that should feature a lot of offense. The Blackhawks travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Lightning, the Maple Leafs also head to the state of Florida to square off against the Panthers, and the Capitals head north of the border to take on the Jets.
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 Thursday:
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Florida Panthers: Over 7 goals (-105)
Oddsmakers didn't mess around with this total. All of the major books opened at seven goals with slight juice on the under and didn't budge. You only see a few totals this high around the league, and I'll admit that it did give me a little pause, but I've been waiting to take this over since Tuesday, and I'm not going to be scared off.
When the Maples Leafs and Panthers play, goal songs get stuck in your head. They've met twice already this season (both times in the New Year), and both games went over the posted total with 20 combined goals. Florida won both matchups, besting Toronto 8-4 on January 12 and 5-3 on February 3.
The Maple Leafs have allowed nearly four goals per game over their last five contests despite getting a shutout in one of them. Four of their last five games have featured seven or more goals. The Panthers are coming off a 2-1 road victory over the Coyotes, but before that, five of their previous seven games featured eight or more goals.
Both teams rank in the Top 5 in goals for and bottom six in goals-against. If this game ends in regulation, the winner will hold the No. 3 spot in the Atlantic Division. Potent offenses, shoddy defenses, and significant playoff implications, that's a recipe for success for over bettors, even at the high total.
Calgary Flames vs. Nashville Predators: Over 6 goals (-115)
I'm strictly riding the wave here. It's been three weeks since a Flames game featured fewer than six goals. The over is 8-0-1 in Calgary's last nine games, seven of which had seven or more goals scored. The Flames have really found their offensive touch and are averaging 4.8 goals per game in that stretch.
The Predators are right around league average in scoring at 3.15 goals per game but have found a little more offense in the first two games of their current homestand. Nashville scored four goals against Columbus on Saturday night and added three more against Ottawa on Tuesday. Bettors can live with two or three goals from the Predators on Thursday if the Flames stay hot.
These two teams have met twice this season. The Flames won 6-5 in overtime on Halloween, and the Predators responded with a 3-2 victory on February 6. Funny enough, that was the last Flames game that didn't reach the six-goal mark. I'm betting on this game to look more like the one on Halloween night.
Season Record: 35-33-2 (+0.00 units)