NHL Thursday Free Picks

We are winding down to the playoffs with some pivotal matchups tonight in NHL betting!

After a wild Wednesday night that saw the Canucks up end the Toronto Maple Leafs, we turn our attention to a Thursday slate that is literally chalk full of value.

Calgary Flames -130 vs. Arizona Coyotes +110
(9:05 pm EST) 

The Flames are coming in hot and looking for their 4th win against the Coyotes. Arizona had their six-game winning streak busted up by the Ducks on Tuesday, but Calgary is coming off back-to-back losses when they skate onto Arizona ice.

The Flames will most likely put Dave Rittich between the pipes with a 2.66 GAA and a 22-6-5 record. Calgary is solid on goals (4th in the league), averaging 3.5 per game and allowing 2.8 (11th overall).

Arizona is only 3-points from playoff contention and home ice would normally be an advantage but they are 15-15-2-1 when hosting. Left winger, Lawson Crouse has been raking in the points and has five in their last six games. They have veteran, Darcy Keumper, guarding the net and he has played a crucial role in the Coyotes’ success. He holds a 2.55 GAA and a .981 save average with a 20-15-5 record. The team is averaging 2.6 goals (28th overall) and allowing 2.8 (9th in the NHL).

The Flames have 21-11-0-2 record on the road and are looking to snap that losing steak before it becomes three. It’s safe to bet against Arizona at home, and Calgary is posting up here with some nominal value.

NHL Free Pick – Flames -130 

Columbus Blue Jackets +105 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins -125
(7pm EST)

These division rivals are both gunning for a playoff spot when Columbus travels to Pittsburgh.

Columbus was able to end a two-game losing streak in a tight squeeze win in a shootout over the New Jersey Devils. Pittsburgh has three-of-four games tagged onto them after winning over Florida on Tuesday.

The Blue Jackets are still working out the kinks with their new lineup and have gone 4-6 in their last 10.  While Tortorella can be unpredictable, the team has a way of remaining calm and not drawing a lot of penalties (3rd in the league for the least amount). Additionally, they are deadly on the PK sitting at 3rd in the NHL overall. Further, they have an aces road record at 19-10-0.

The Blue Jackets will need their PK abilities when facing a lethal Penguins powerplay. They’ll have Bobrovsky between the pipes who is 27-21-1 this season with a 2.85 GAA .904 saves percentage, and 5 shutouts. He’s still a very salty character, but is capable and needs to start responding with a better cast of supporting characters in front of him.

Pittsburgh’s blue line is undetermined with four players listed day-to-day. Their offensive stats give them an edge against the newly formed Blue Jackets and if Letang and Maatta are back for this game, their defensive line will be strong as well.

Penguins’ Matt Murray will be suited up in goal with a 20-10-3 record on the season, 2.90 GAA and .913 save percentage.

Both these teams are in a must-win scenario with the Blue Jackets in 3rd and the Penguins in the first wild card spot for the East. While this is razor thin, the Penguins will take this one 3-2. Until Columbus truly starts showing that they have momentum, they’re a bet against team.

NHL Free Pick – Penguins -125

Colorado Avalanche +110 vs. Dallas Stars -130
(8:30 pm) 

Colorado is coming off a disappointing win over Detroit (it shouldn’t have been that hard) and Dallas is skating in with a sly smile after knocking down a third-straight win.

While the Avalanche are mingling with the top-ten teams in the NHL, their defense is sort of a mess. They are allowing less than three goals per game, but they’ve had some critical missteps when it come to keeping the puck away from their net. Varlamov is 19-16-8 with a 2.83 GAA and a 2.83 SV%, Colorado is 1-5 in their last 6 Dallas tangles and but 5-1 overall in their last 5 against the Stars.

With two wins in their rearview, Dallas should be able to capitalize on this game but they had trouble with their last Avalanche matchup. Goalie, Ben Bishop will be holding onto his 4th season shutout against the Rangers and is 21-14-2, with a 2.19 GAA and a .928 saves percentage. Look for the Stars defense to show up as they average a low 2.6 goals allowed per game.

Dallas is going to nab this one 3-1, folks.

NHL Free Pick – Stars -130

Montreal Canadians +145 vs San Jose Sharks -165
(10:35 pm EST)

The Montreal Canadians will visit the injury/illness ridden San Jose Sharks tonight. Between the flu, groin injuries and one undisclosed injury, the Sharks might have a tough time.

Montreal are on a California tour and are looking to extend their road win streak to 4 and leave their 11 game losing streak at San Jose in the dust. They are now behind 7 points to 3rd place Toronto and will be vying for a Wild Card spot.

Carey Price helped finish off the LA Kings on Tuesday night with 26 saves, tying the franchise record of 314. However, Price has been dealt 5 straight losses against San Jose

Brian Gallagher reached his 30-goal mark for the second year in a row but has only had 2 goals against the Sharks in his 10 career matchups with San Jose.

The Sharks are looking for a Pacific Division title and a top seed in the Western Conference. They trail Calgary by 3 points. The Sharks are 2-0-0 in their four game homestand and are 11-3-1 overall. Without forward Evander Kane and defenseman Erik Karisson, it’s going to be tough but Marcus Sorensen has been showing up to fill the void. Martin Jones is expected to guard the cage and he’s 6-0 against the Canadians and has stopped 80 of 85 shots from Montreal.

The Sharks are taking this one despite Montreal’s desperation.

NHL Free Pick – San Jose -165


Lindsay Van Gyn has a masters degree in sports communications focusing on the NFL. She is a passionate writer who focuses on the cultural intersection of sports, statistics and fans.