Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 2:45 PM EST.
9:00 PM EST. OT included. Rookie goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood may have come crashing back to earth after starting his NHL career with back-to-back shutouts, but he absolutely gives the Devils the best chance to win and we love that John Hynes is going back to the kid tonight. The Devils are still without their best player, Taylor Hall, but the absence of the reigning Hart Trophy winner only lessens his team appeal and therefore lowers the Devils price. Even though they lost in Dallas, the Devils still potted four goals, just as they did when blanking the Canucks the game prior. Unlike the Coyotes, the energy around the Devils is positive and the team rewarded Hynes with a new contract despite their struggles in the standings this season.
While both of these teams are coming off a loss, it is the Coyotes that appear to be in freefall mode after losing three of their last four games. What is most troubling for Arizona in those losses is the fact that its penalty kill is still converting at a ridiculous 85.1% (23-of-27) over its last nine games. The 'Yotes have just three wins over that stretch with two of them coming in extra time. During this dry spell, the Coyotes have scored just one goal or less in six of those nine games. If you could just flip a switch to get the offense going, every team would do it. The Coyotes lineup looks like a casting call for The Walking Dead, as the injury bug has stricken them. Nick Schmaltz was placed on injured reserve yesterday and he had been one of the only bright spots after racking up 14 points in 17 games since being traded from Chicago. Defenseman Kevin Connauton was also hurt in Wednesday's loss to the Oilers. Other notable Desert Dogs that are on the sidelines include Antti Raanta, Alex Goligoski, Jason Demers, Michael Grabner and Christian Dvorak. While we generally don't highlight injuries in this space, at some point, the white flag has to be waived. Just ask head coach Rick Tocchet, "This is the world that you live in. This is important. I've got to show leadership. We can't hang our head." We have to wonder if Tocchet's words still hold weight with this team. There is a culture of losing in the desert and the Coyotes appear to be snakebit here again.
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New Jersey +101 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.02)