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This Week's Best NHL Bets

This Week's Best NHL Bets

This Week's Best NHL Bets
By Bill McBride

HOT TEAM: Pittsburgh Penguins

No one is about to say they don’t need him, or that it doesn’t matter when he returns, but Pittsburgh is doing fine these days without Sidney Crosby. The Penguins hammered Colorado 5-1 on Saturday and take a five-game win streak into Monday’s date with the Coyotes.

Catching the Rangers for the Atlantic Division lead, and the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, might be a bit of a stretch, but Evgeni Malkin and Co. have a shot. Monday's tilt begins a four-game homestand that features three other winnable games: Toronto, Florida and Boston.

Malkin, through Saturday, had 38 goals and 80 points. James Neal and Jordan Staal have also come up big in Crosby's absence, combining for 51 goals.

They are good, they are hot, and Crosby or not, the Penguins will be one of those playoff teams that no one wants to face.

COLD TEAM: Montreal Canadiens

A bit of an easy target, for sure, but when you lose to Toronto, 3-1, on Hockey Night in Canada, with all that's hovering over the Maple Leafs these days, you're going to end up in this space more times than not.

The Canadiens have lost six of their last seven, and the defeats weren't exactly to Murderers’ Row. Montreal has dropped decisions to New Jersey, Dallas, Washington, Florida and Tampa Bay during this skid, and the setback to the Maple Leafs was demoralizing, even for the Eastern Conference's worst team.

OVER PLAY: Tampa Bay Lightning

Don't tell Steven Stamkos the Lightning are out of the jumbled Eastern Conference playoff race. Several teams at the bottom of the totem pole have struggled through the late winter, but Tampa Bay is sizzling at the right time, and may even rally to win the division.

Stamkos scored two goals on Saturday night, leading the Lightning to a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. He now has 47 goals, which leads the league, and Tampa Bay was just four points out of the Southeast Division lead Sunday morning, and two points out of the eighth playoff berth in the East.

The Lightning have won seven of their last 10 headed into Tuesday's date with Ottawa, and they are clearly back to playing up-and-down hockey along the way. That is music to totals players, of course, because Tampa Bay has gone over in five of the last six games, and is now 41-23-1 over for the season.

UNDER PLAY: Anaheim Ducks

Though the Capitals may not want to admit it, Bruce Boudreau can coach a little bit. And though Anaheim likely won’t mount a furious rally and snare the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, the Ducks have stemmed the tide, thanks to their new coach.

They lost to rival Los Angeles, 4-2, on Saturday night, but despite their awful start the Ducks are 28-28-10 headed into Monday’s game vs. Edmonton. Not bad, considering where they came from. Right wing Corey Perry has 31 goals and 52 points.

But the biggest difference in the Boudreau Era is on the back line, as the Ducks have combined solid goaltending with smart defense. And that has translated to unders. Tons of them.

Saturday’s over versus the Kings snapped a 10-game under streak, including four games where they allowed one goal or less. And for the season, Anaheim is a stunning 25-39-2 over, a delight to under bettors.


March came in like a lion for the Bruins, who will seven games in the first 11 days. Not easy opponents, either, for the Stanley Cup champions. This run, when it's said and done, will have featured dates with the Rangers, Penguins and surging Sabres.

Detroit can take a bit of a breath this week, so expect some fresh legs from the Red Wings moving forward. After Sunday’s meeting with the Blackhawks, Detroit plays just one game in the next four days -- a rare visit to Philadelphia on Tuesday.

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