Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 12:00 PM EST.
8:05 PM EST. OT included. Coming off the break, the Preds outshot Chicago 43-31 but lost 2-1. On Thursday, Filip Forsberg returned, Nashville outshot L.A., 36-19 and buried the Kings 5-0. The Preds are healthier now than ever before with not a single player on the rack. Forsberg back fixes a lot of things for the Preds, especially the balance in the lines. In addition to combining for two goals and three assists against the Kings, the Predators’ first line looked completely unstoppable. Nashville generated 70.59% of the total unblocked shot attempts while that trio was on the ice. Furthermore, they generated more high-danger chances than the Kings. They did enjoy over 80% of their faceoffs being taken in the offensive zone and took full advantage of the situation. The second line was back to its usual composition, with Kyle Turris centering Kevin Fiala and Craig Smith. This line produced a goal and an assist, and allowed Los Angeles zero room on offense. The bottom six performed extremely admirably as well. This group deals with the zone start mismatch created by the top two lines, and are often forced to play defensively. The Kings did not produce a single high-danger chance when Nashville’s bottom two forward lines were skating. You simply cannot ask for more. The opponent in this one is far more sloppier than the Kings.
The Rangers are coming off a 4-0 loss to the Maple Leafs but we’ll give them a mulligan for that effort, as they had been off for a full week and they were predictably flat. What we won’t give the Rangers a mulligan for is being constantly outworked, outplayed and out-everything else. It’s not all the Rangers fault. Management put together a team that is slow and stale. Management put together a defense that individually couldn’t crack too many lineups in this league. Brendan Smith, who is getting 18 to 20 minutes a game would be a healthy scratch 99% of the time on 99% of the teams in this league. Nick Holden, Tony DeAngelo and Marc Staal back there aren’t much better. New York’s best defensemen, Ryan McDonagh is more of a stay at home d-man and that’s because he would come in second in a skating race against Ken Hitchcock.
Playing the 31st ranked strength of schedule in the league, the Rangers are dead last in so many defensive categories that they not only need great goaltending to win, they usually have to score four, five or six goals also. Offensively, they’re regressing too and now they’ll play this one without their most creative players, as Pavel Buchnevich is on the rack for four to six weeks. Henrik Lundqvist, who kept this dumpster fire afloat for the first three months of the season has been yanked in consecutive starts in which he allowed 10 goals on 63 shots and remains under siege every game. We told you three months ago how bad this team was and we’ll continue to fade them with conviction. On a Saturday night in Music City, we’re not about to stop.
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NASHVILLE -1½ +165 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.30)