With the NBA in All-Star weekend mode and the College Hoops schedule looking paper thin on Friday night – #15 Georgetown @ Cincinnati will be a good game, but that’s about it – it’s up to the NHL to get bettors excited.
With eight ice battles scheduled for Friday night, there’s enough to keep you interested. Need proof? Casino Review has picked out the three best games on the schedule for your perusal.
Philadelphia Flyers @ New Jersey Devils
7:00 PM ET
It might not have the bite of a Penguins-Flyers clash, but this Atlantic Division showdown will pack a punch, not least because the Devils got the better of the Flyers in last year’s playoffs and the Flyers dumped the Devils out two years earlier.
Philadelphia (6-7-1, 2-6-0 road) started the season 2-6-0 but four wins from six has the side looking a little more respectful.
New Jersey (8-2-3, 5-1-1 home) is currently top of the Atlantic and the Eastern Conference with 19 points. The Devils came unstuck against Carolina on Tuesday, losing 4-2 and snapping a five game winning streak. Peter DeBoer’s side will look to rebound tonight.
The Flyers’ 3-2 win in Winnipeg on Tuesday marked a rare road victory for the side. Prior to that game, the team had won just one on the road.
This Season: New Jersey defeated Philadelphia 3-0 on Jan. 22. That game was also played at the Prudential Center.
Last Season: The two sides split the six-game regular season series 3-3, with the Flyers winning two of three in New Jersey. The Devils eliminated the Flyers in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs by four games to one. New Jersey won both playoff games played at the Prudential Center.
Moneyline: Philadelphia (+134), New Jersey (-147) Total: 5
Take: NEW JERSEY – Although Philadelphia is trending upwards, the Devils outrank the Flyers in goals scored and allowed, and more importantly ranks in the top 10 in both power play (21.1%) and penalty killing (84.1%) percentage. Take the total to go under.
Anaheim Ducks @ Detroit Red Wings
7:30 PM ET
Anaheim (9-2-1, 5-1-1 road) scored a 3-2 shootout win over Chicago on Tuesday, making two shootout wins in a row. The Ducks have won six of the last seven all told, and three of the last four on the road. The Pacific Division-leading team will look to continue its run of good form against a Red Wings side that hasn’t completely found its groove.
Detroit (7-4-2, 5-2-1 home) lost in overtime at home to St. Louis on Wednesday, snapping a streak of three straight wins and five from the last seven. The Red Wings’ main trouble has been penalty killing. The side has allowed 16 power play goals in 60 attempts (a PK rating of just 73.3%) which will hurt any side.
Fortunately for the Red Wings, penalty killing is a shortcoming of the Ducks. Anaheim has been even worse against the power play this season, allowing 14 goals in 46 tries (a PK rating of 69.6%). Fortunately for the Ducks, they commit fewer penalties than the Wings.
This Season: This is the first of three games between the two sides this season.
Last Season: Detroit won three of four games between the sides last season, including both games in the Motor City, the second of which was won in a shootout.
Moneyline: Anaheim (+114), Detroit (-126) Total: 5½
Take: ANAHEIM – Take the Ducks to score an upset road victory. With both teams capable of scoring the puck, and both weak on penalty kill, take the total to go over.
San Jose Sharks @ Chicago Blackhawks
8:30 PM ET
When the Blackhawks finally lose a game in regulation, we’ll no longer need to comment about how the side is undefeated in regulation. For now, Chicago (10-0-3, 2-0-1 home) will look to remain undefeated in regulation when the Sharks come to town on Friday night.
The Blackhawks’ epic seven-game home stand didn’t get off to the best of starts on Tuesday as the Ducks took a shootout win, but a point meant it wasn’t a total loss. The side will hope for two points against the struggling Sharks.
After starting the season 7-0-0, San Jose (7-3-3, 2-2-1 road) has lost its mojo, dropping six straight games. Granted, two of those losses came in shootouts and one in overtime, but 0-3-3 isn’t what any team wants out of six games.
The Sharks will look to get back on track Friday, and will be hoping the goals that came early in the season return. Fans will hope for anything but a repeat of Tuesday’s 1-0 overtime loss to Nashville.
This Season: Chicago defeated the Sharks 5-3 in San Jose on Feb. 5. The two sides will close out their season series with a second game at the United Center next Friday (Feb. 22).
Last Season: The two sides split a four game series last season, with each winning both games at home.
Moneyline: San Jose (+129), Chicago (-142), Total: 5½
Take: CHICAGO – San Jose will return to winning ways shortly, but the Blackhawks should have enough to postpone this resurgence by at least one more game. Take the total to go over and both sides find the net multiple times.
NHL Schedule (Friday)
Boston @ Buffalo
Philadelphia @ New Jersey
Pittsburgh @ Winnipeg
Anaheim @ Detroit
San Jose @ Chicago
St. Louis @ Calgary
Dallas @ Vancouver
Columbus @ Los Angeles