NHL Handicapping: Weekend Hockey Betting Primer With Free Picks
by Dave Schwab - 4/5/2012
There are just three days left in the regular season, and while the majority of eight postseason spots in each conference have been claimed, things are going right down to the wire to set the first-round pairings for this year’s NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The following are our NHL ‘best bets’ for this Thursday night’s slate of games with an eye towards the matchups that carry major playoff implications for the teams involved.
Florida Panthers (+125) vs. Washington Capitals (-145)
Total Line: 5
Florida has a four-point lead over the Capitals in the Southeast Division with two games left to play, but would lose the tie-breaker for the title if the two tie in total points. The Panthers come into this game just 3-2-5 in their last 10 games and 1-4 in their last five games on the road.
It has not been pretty but Washington has been able to grind out two shootout victories in its last three games to keep its playoff hopes alive. While they can still win the division, a couple of losses down the stretch could knock the Capitals out of the playoffs altogether.
This will be the sixth meeting between the two this season with Washington holding a 3-2 edge. It posted two shutouts at home and outscored the Panthers a combined 7-0. Florida gets on the board this time around, but it will not be enough.
The Pick: Washington 3, Florida 1
Buffalo Sabres (+120) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (-140)
Total Line: 5.5
It took a dramatic 15-4-4 run in its last 23 games, including a huge 6-5 overtime win over Toronto on Tuesday night as a -197 home favorite, to keep Buffalo’s playoff hopes alive. The Sabres are tied with Washington for the eighth spot in the East but do not hold the tie-breaker.
The Flyers still have an outside shot at catching Pittsburgh for the fourth spot in the East, but they could fall to sixth in they lose out and New Jersey wins its last two games. Philadelphia is 2-3 in its last five games, including three straight losses at home.
A Flyers’ win on Thursday would complete the season-sweep as they won the first two games on the road and then blasted the Sabres 7-2 as -155 home favorites on Feb. 16. Philadelphia has actually won the last five meetings, but stick with Buffalo to snap this streak as it appears destined to battle for that final playoff berth until the bitter end.
The Pick: Buffalo 4, Philadelphia 3
San Jose Sharks (+115) vs. Los Angeles Kings (-135)
Total Line: 5
The Sharks could go from winning the Pacific Division and locking up the third-seed in the West to missing the playoffs altogether depending on what happens over the next three days. Two straight wins have them one point behind the Kings with 92 total points.
Los Angeles is in the same boat as San Jose and needs to win out to assure a division title. It is 7-2-1 in its last 10 games and 7-1 in its last eight home game,s including a 5-2 rout of San Jose on March 20 as a -142 home favorite.
These two have met four times this season with the home team each winning twice. Last season they met in the playoffs and San Jose pounded-out a 4-2 series win with three crucial road wins, but stick with the Kings this time around as their current form at home moves them one step closer to the Pacific title.
The Pick: Los Angeles 3, San Jose 2
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