In three NHL face-offs on Friday night, the road teams look to hold the value when the Flames visit St. Louis, the Maple Leafs travel south to Dallas and the Canucks take on the Coyotes in the desert.
There is a full NHL slate on this Friday after Thanksgiving including some afternoon action, and we are looking at three night plays were we think playing the three visiting teams will make this a profitable night.Maple Leafs over Stars as small dogs
Five of the six participants in these games come out of the Western Conference, including two teams from the Northwest Division with the Vancouver Canucks visiting the Phoenix Coyotes out of the Pacific Division and the Calgary Flames visiting the St. Louis Blues. The only Eastern Conference team involved is the Toronto Maple Leafs, as they make the long trip south to visit the Dallas Stars
Here are our NHL Picks for all three face-offs, as two of our road teams are underdogs on the NHL odds and the third one is currently at a Pick.
Flames over Blues at big price
The Flames take on the Blues at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO at 8:00 ET. The current odds on this contest have Calgary as a nice-sized +145 underdog at 5 Dimes.
The Blues have played very well since Ken Hitchcock took over as head coach, as they are 5-1-2 since then while allowing no more than two goals during regulation time in the seven games where they gained at least one point and only three goals in the lone regulation loss. However, this newfound success is starting to get reflected in their odds, to the point where they now appear to be overvalued in this contest.
The Flames have not been a bad road team this year, going 4-6 with all four wins coming at underdog odds, and they have had uncanny success in this head-to-head series. In fact, Calgary is a remarkable 21-7 in the last 28 meetings, and it is not as if these teams are separated by that much talent wise that a streak like than can be expected.
Yes, the Blues have a hot goaltender in Brian Elliott, who is 8-1-0 with a 1.48 GAA and a .946 save percentage and has now unquestionably taken over as the number one goalie in St. Louis after splitting time with Jaroslav Halak earlier in the year. However, the Flames have an All-Star goalie in Miikka Kiprusoff that has dominated the Blues over his NHL career.
Now, Kiprusoff has been more ordinary than usual this season, going 8-8-0 with a 2.51 GAA and a .917 save percentage, which are certainly not bad numbers but not as good as Miikka is used to. However, he still has five straight wins vs. the Blues and is now 19-4-2 with 1.90 GAA in his career against them. His most recent win vs. St. Louis came earlier this season 3-1 in Calgary where he stopped 28 of the 29 shots he faced.
Kiprusoff is the key reason why the Flames have dominated this head-to-head series, and while the Blues have been playing suffocating defense under Hitchcock, their offense has remained quite average. Therefore, look for his success against the Blues to continue and for the Flames to pull off a nice upset.
The Maple Leafs are playing the third game of a four-game road trip as they visit the Stars at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX at 8:30 ET. Toronto is currently listed as a small underdog
of +113 at Pinnacle Sports.
The Maple Leafs have exploded offensively in recent games, as they have had two 7-1 victories sandwiched around a 3-2 loss in the last three games, and this could be a tough team to beat when they get good goaltending.
The Leafs have the leading scorer in the NHL in Phil Kessel leading the offense, but the goaltending has been erratic at best
and has held the team back from being better than its current 12-8-2 overall. Things have been different in the last two starts made by Jonas Gustavsson though, as he has stopped 67 of 69 shots during the two 7-1 victories, first at home vs. Washington and then on the road in Tampa Bay in the Leafs’ last game on Tuesday.
That still leaves Gustavsson at 6-4-0 with just a 2.89 GAA and a low .899 save percentage for the season, but at least he has regained his fine form of last year over this past week. Now, these teams have not faced each other since November of last year, but Gustavsson was in net for that 4-1 Leafs victory in Toronto.
The Stars have won two straight since snapping a five-game losing streak, and they are extremely fortunate to be 13-8-0 for the season considering that they have actually been outscored this year, averaging only 2.60 goals per game while allowing 2.71 goals per contest. That fact plus low preseason expectations leads up to believe that the Stars’ hot start was an anomaly and that they have been playing closer to their true level recently.
Granted, Dallas is 10-3-0 in its last 13 home games including 8-3-0 this year, but the Stars’ defensive deficiencies do not match up well with Kessel and the hot Toronto offense, and if Gustavsson keeps performing in net like he has in the last two games, that would make Toronto a very live underdog in this spot as the Leafs look to win their second straight game during a four-game trip that concludes in Anaheim on Sunday.Pick the Canucks over the Coyotes in Phoenix
The Canucks are looking for their third straight win when they take on the Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, AZ at 9:00 ET. The game is currently a toss up at The Greek Sports Book with odds of -110 on each side
The Canucks are the defending Western Conference Champions, but they have yet to win three straight games this season while going only 11-9-1 thus far. They have a chance to change that if they win tonight after beating the Ottawa Senators
and the Colorado Avalanche in the last two games, with the latter being a 3-0 road win on Wednesday with backup goalie Cory Schneider posting the shutout.
Schneider has been very sharp since filling in for starter Roberto Luongo since he went down with an upper body injury on November 13, and although Luongo may now be healthy enough to start again, it is expected that the hot Schneider will get one more start tonight with the Canucks playing the first game of a back-to-back, with Luongo making his return on the back end on Saturday at San Jose. Schneider has stopped 52 of 53 shots during these two wins.
Although Vancouver is off to a slow start, it is still 18-5 in its last 23 games vs. Pacific Division teams and the Canucks won on both of their trips to the desert last season by scores of 6-0 and 4-3.
The Coyotes are 11-6-3 for the season, but they have been inconsistent lately after a hot started. Phoenix is 5-3-1 over the last nine games and the ‘Yotes have alternated wins and losses over the last five games, a pattern that would put them in line for a loss tonight. Phoenix has not played badly at home this year, but it has not been dominant while going 5-3-2, which is actually slightly worse than its 6-3-1 road record.
This looks like a nice spot for the Canucks to win their third straight game for the first time this year, and we expect them to take full advantage.