NHL expert analysis for Saturday’s matchups, plus a look at the Seattle Kraken and my race day picks and handicapping tips for the Kentucky Derby!
Dallas is in Nashville today, looking to pull even with the Predators for the final playoff spot in the Central
The NHL season is winding down but for the Seattle Kraken, the story is finally getting to the good part. On Friday, the final documents were signed, sealed and delivered, officially making the Kraken the league’s 32nd team in operation.
General manager Ron Francis and his scouting team commented on the momentous occasion from Dallas, Texas, where the IIHF U18 Men’s World Championship is underway. He said the organization is excited, but knows there is a lot of work to do. Seattle is now free to start shopping for free agents and they’ll also earn rights to one player from every franchise other than Vegas, just ahead of the NHL amateur draft.
At the start of the 2021-22 season, assuming Covid is under control, the Kraken will join the pre-pandemic Pacific Division with the Kings, Ducks, Sharks, Knights, Oilers, Flames and Canucks. Arizona will shift into the Central Division and the league will be set with four divisions, eight teams in each.
Only two of those Pacific teams, Vegas and Edmonton, are in playoff position were the season to end today. Calgary is six points back of Montreal for fourth in the North Division, and tonight the Flames travel to face the Oilers in another battle of Alberta. I’ve previewed that matchup along with two more games in today’s article. I’ve been lighting the lamp all season in Hockey, riding +49 games over .500 for a bankroll gain of +$14,540. Max Plays, which are my top selections, are 13-4 (77%) in 2021, treating dime bettors to a +$8,660 profit.
NHL Expert Analysis
The action gets underway at 1 pm ET today when Buffalo and Boston hookup for their eighth meeting in 2021. Playing as a +280 underdog, the Sabres shocked the NHL betting world on April 23, beating the Bruins 6-4. Those six goals matched Buffalo’s total scoring output from the previous five games combined, and Boston answered back with a 5-2 win two nights ago.
- Boston is 11-1 the past 12 games against Buffalo, including 6-0 at home.
Buffalo hasn’t scored more than two goals while playing in Boston since December 16, 2018. The UNDER is 5-1 in six games since then and the total this afternoon is 5.5 OV (-115).
Pittsburgh at Washington
Saturday, May 1, 7:00 PM ET
Line: Capitals -108 and 6 OV -113
These two played on Thursday in a fast paced, back and forth battle that was tied four separate times. Tom Wilson helped his Capitals secure a piece of first in the East when he scored with 15 seconds to play in the third before Jake Guentzel notched the winner, 5-4 in overtime.
- The Penguins are 5-12-3 UNDER this season when faced with immediate revenge.
In similar circumstances late-February, Pittsburgh was in Washington two days after an overtime win against the Caps. Although things started slow, 1-0 Washington through two, the Capitals exploded for four goals in the final stanza enroute to a 5-2 victory.
Tristan Jarry and Vitek Vanecek were in net and Jarry has earned points in eight of his last nine decisions (7-1-1). He’s 15-3-2 at home but just 7-6-1 on the road, so Casey DeSmith could be inline for his first start since April 24, a 4-2 win over New Jersey. DeSmith is 2-0 vs. Washington in 2021.
- Washington is 11-4 with immediate revenge, including a 7-0 home record. They scored 5-plus goals in six of those seven home wins.
Pittsburgh (3.87 GPG) and Washington (3.60 GPG) ranked No. 3-4 in April scoring. Quick-start home teams off on overtime loss are 30-10 UNDER (75%) at this stage of the season, but my NHL consensus data shows a 59% OVER trend among bettors. The OVER in this series is 9-2 the past 11 meetings.
Dallas at Nashville
Saturday, May 1, 8:00 PM ET
Line: Predators -110 and 5 OV -135
After winning six of seven to pull within field goal range of the Preds in the Central standings, Dallas dropped back-to-back games this week vs. the Hurricanes and Lightning. They were outscored 8-1 in those losses and finished April with a 2.88 scoring average for the month. Still, Dallas has averaged 35.4 shots in its past five, raising its season average to 30.0 even (T-11).
- The Predators are 6-18 (25%) this year vs. teams averaging 30-plus shots on goal.
Nashville’s offense has come to life the past two weeks, with 20 goals in their past five. The Preds averaged 3.29 GPG in April, eighth-most in the NHL. It was their most prolific month by a country mile, +0.41 goals above their previous high in March. Nashville has won four of the past five vs. Dallas and all four wins were by a one-goal margin. On Tuesday, the Predators were lit up 7-4 by Florida. They have been off since then.
- Home teams off a loss by two or more are 30-16 OVER (65%) vs. teams that were blown out by 3-plus goals in back-to-back games.
Dallas (21-17-12) leads the NHL with 12 overtime losses. It technically makes them a sub-500 team at .420, and Nashville is 21-5 vs. losing teams this year. At this stage of the season, though, you have to be careful clumping the Stars in with the likes of Chicago, Detroit and Columbus.
Calgary at Edmonton
Saturday, May 1, 10:00 PM ET
Line: Oilers -125 and 6 UN -115
When these two met a month ago the Oilers were lined at -145. When you consider Edmonton’s 7-4 April record and the fact they are second in the division, it would be fair to expect a similar line today. Two of the Oil’s past three losses, however, came against their provincial rival. The Flames slammed the door 5-0 on April 10 and then on Thursday night, Calgary struck again with a 3-1 win.
Edmonton has padded their record with wins over the Senators, Canadiens and Jets, who are currently mired in a six-game losing streak. The Flames, meanwhile, are 6-3 in their past nine and they’ve notched victories against Toronto and Edmonton (twice).
Calgary’s record vs. winning teams was 7-16 (.304) up until three weeks ago but Darryl Sutter found a spark. Their past three games against winners, the Flames hold a 11-3 scoring edge. One NHL expert trend to be aware, especially at this stage, is rest.
- Road dogs up to +150 playing their second game in five days are 52-34 (61%) against teams playing their third game in four days (Edmonton).
41 of 64 (64%) games in this series have stayed UNDER the number. With a man advantage, Edmonton ranks third overall at 26.3%, but Sutter’s record against elite power play units is 178-103 UNDER (63%). It’s a great looking matchup and the Flames’ playoff lives depend on getting these points.
Kentucky Derby Picks
My Special Edition sheet for the 2021 Kentucky Derby was released on Friday and there is still time for you to get in on the winning. I hit three big winners at last year’s Derby and today, I have top picks from a handful of races including the main event, which is slated for 6:57 pm ET.
Kentucky Derby Handicapping Resources
- My Horse Racing system
- A guide to successful handicapping
- How to choose between Horse Racing bets
- 2021 Kentucky Derby Contenders