The Pacific Division is the tightest in the NHL right now, with five teams separated by just two points. Calgary and Arizona both have 55 points (and the Flames have won five in a row and lead the division on the basis of percentage points despite a -8 goal differential. Vancouver and Vegas have 54 points, and then Edmonton has 53. So one win could be the difference, down the stretch, between winning the division and missing the playoffs entirely.
The St. Louis Blues are pulling away with the Central Division, leading Dallas by nine points (although the Stars have a game in hand). The Washington Capitals lead the Metropolitan Division by four points, but Pittsburgh is charging hard, injuries and all, and they trail by just four points with a game in hand, winners of seven of their last 10. In the Atlantic Division, Tampa Bay seems to have woken up, winners of nine of their last ten, now trailing Boston by just seven points. The Bruins have points in nine of their last ten and a three-game winning streak, so their malaise may be coming to an end.
Check out our top NHL betting picks from pro hockey for the coming week.
Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week – January 13th Edition
Monday, January 13th
N.Y. Islanders at N.Y. Rangers (7:00 pm ET, ESPN+)
The Islanders have split their last four games, losing in Toronto before beating Colorado at home and winning in New Jersey. Then on Saturday they came home to lose to Boston, 3-2, in overtime. In that game, the Bruins had a power play in overtime and capitalized, as Patrice Bergeron scored 1:33 into the extra frame to pull off the win. Mathew Barzal and Scott Mayfield had the New York Goals, and Semyon Varlamov had 30 saves, but it was not enough. New York controlled the action in the early going, outshooting Boston 14-5 in the first period, but then the Bruins found their way through a stiff Islander defense.
Now the Islanders head across town to face the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The Blueshirts are in seventh place in the Metropolitan Division but have split their last four. They lost in Vancouver before beating Colorado and New Jersey at home. They went to St. Louis for a quick road trip on Saturday and took a 5-2 beating from the Blues. Filip Chytil and Brett Howden scored for the Rangers, who have dropped four in a row away from home and will be looking forward to returning to home ice. But can they stop the defensively savvy Islanders?
NHL Betting Prediction: Islanders 3, Rangers 1
Tuesday, January 14th
San Jose at Arizona (9:00 pm ET)
Don’t look now, but the San Jose Sharks have won two in a row, beating Columbus at home on Thursday, 3-1, and edging the Dallas Stars, 2-1, on Saturday, ending a six-game winning streak for Dallas. Aaron Dell stopped 27 shots for San Jose, and Patrick Marleau and Brent Burns scored the goals. The game was tied early in the second period when Marleau scored on a rebound, and then the Sharks locked down a Dallas offense that has shown signs of life over the last few weeks.
Now the Sharks visit a surprising Arizona team. The Coyotes have flirted with the Pacific Division lead in recent weeks but have dropped three straight, getting shut out in Tampa Bay on Thursday, getting blanked again in Carolina on Friday and then losing at home in a shootout that went eight rounds against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. In that game, Taylor Hall, Conor Garland and Derek Stepan all scored, ending that two-game scoring drought. Adin Hill stopped 30 shots for the Coyotes, making his third start of the season as the team waits for the return of Antti Raanta and Darcy Kuemper from the injured list. After that disappointing road trip, it was impressive to see the Coyotes muster such energy against a talented Pittsburgh offense. I see a couple days of rest pushing this Coyotes team past San Jose on Tuesday.
NHL Betting Prediction: Arizona 4, San Jose 2