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Canucks, Lightning Among Best Bets For Saturday’s NHL Action

Posted by on 12/5/2014 7:32:53 PM

Consistency is the key for any NHL team that wants to make the playoffs and while teams like the Pittsburgh Penguns, Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning, and New York Islanders have been very consistent at winning so far this season there are a number of teams that have really struggled in that area. No team currently holding down a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference has struggled with inconsistency more than the Toronto Maple Leafs and while that has made them a difficult team to predict this Saturday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks should be pretty straightforward for a number of reasons. Here is a quick look at the four best bets for Saturday’s games.

Vancouver Canucks @ Toronto Maple Leafs

Saturday, 7:00 PM ET

Toronto beat up on the Washington Capitals on Saturday and then the Dallas Stars on Tuesday but just when everyone thought they had turned things around as far as effort is concerned they laid an egg in a 5-3 loss to the injury riddled New Jersey Devils. New Jersey was without Patrik Elias, Jaromir Jagr, and Travis Zajac among others but still managed to score give goals and steal a win on the road. The Maple Leafs can’t afford another effort like that this weekend but even if they bring their best it might not be enough against the red hot Canucks. Vancouver shut out Sidney Crosby and the Penguins on Thursday with Eddie Lack in goal and will turn to a rested Ryan Miller for this one.

Pick: Vancouver

Montreal Canadiens @ Dallas Stars

Saturday, 7:00 PM ET

The Stars have really struggled to keep the puck out of their net all season with a ridiculous 3.6 goals per game allowed average that ranks 30 th in the NHL. Their top line of Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, and Jamie Benn is very good but they haven’t gotten much from the rest of their forward core while continuing to try to rebuild a young defense core on the fly through trades. Montreal ranks 11th with a 2.5 goals per game allowed average and while they could do a better job when it comes to scoring efficiency they have become a very responsible team at both ends of the ice. Carey Price will give them a chance in this one as they look to capitalize on questionable Dallas goaltending.

Pick: Montreal

New York Rangers @ Detroit Red Wings

Saturday, 7:00 PM ET

New York is coming off a tough loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning and is tied with Washington for the final Metropolitan division playoff spot with 26 points with the biggest issue so far this season surprisingly being their lack of consistent play defensively. The Rangers have allowed an uncharacteristic 2.8 goals per game and Henrik Lundqvist’s 2.70 goals against average and .905 save percentage has been surprisingly bad. The Red Wings have the offensive talent to score some goals this Saturday as the fourth-highest scoring team in the NHL and Pavel Datsyuk’s return to health makes them that much more dangerous. Detroit is 10-3-2 on home ice this season and should continue to roll with a win over New York.

Pick: Detroit

Columbus Blue Jackets @ Tampa Bay Lightning

Saturday, 7:00 PM ET

Injuries have been a major issue for the Blue Jackets all season and with Brandon Dubinsky still out and Artem Anisimov sidelined for two months a position of strength down the middle at centre has become a weakness. Sergei Bobrovsky hasn’t been nearly as good since his return from injury this year and overall Columbus has been very inconsistent. The exact opposite is true about a Tampa Bay team that keeps finding ways to win games thanks to Steven Stamkos and the league’s highest scoring offense. The Lightning have also been very good in their own end in front of Ben Bishop and should have no problem securing two points against the Blue Jackets on Saturday night.

Pick: Tampa Bay

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