The NHL is winding down for Christmas break. There will be no action between December 23 and December 26. The NHL will return on the night of the 26th with nine games scheduled. Eight games on the board tonight and here are our 'Best Bets':
ANAHEIM DUCKS AT NEW YORK ISLANDERS:
A matchup of teams that play good defense but don't have much on offense. Actually, the Ducks are just 'better on defense'--they're mediocre there but they're the worst offensive team in the league averaging just 1.84 goals per game. The Islanders are legit good on defense. They're currently tied for third place in the league 'goals against average' standings allowing just 2.29 per contest. The problem for the Isles is offense which is just 'middle of the pack'.
The Islanders have struggled to score goals lately and particularly in their last three games where they've put up only two. That isn't likely to change tonight due to the absence of leading scorer Kyle Okposo who is out until after the break in an attempt to rehab a 'lingering injury'. Articles are starting to appear in the local media that the team is 'frustrated' by their lack of productivity on offense but that's not going to improve with Okposo sidelined. He's the proverbial 'straw that stirs the drink'.
This is an easy spot to play the Islanders. They're just 4-10-0 on the road this season but have actually scrapped out a winning record (6-2) against Eastern Conference teams. The Islanders have been excellent against non-conference opponents (10-5) but with this the last game before the break it wouldn't be a surprise to see them 'phone it in'. Ducks have another game on tap, playing the Rangers tomorrow night. That means they're the more focused team here. Making the 'easy play' is not the way to win money sports betting. We'll back the Ducks.
BET ANAHEIM DUCKS +125 OVER NY ISLANDERS
BET ANAHEIM/NY ISLANDERS UNDER 5
ST. LOUIS BLUES AT PHILADELPHIA FLYERS:
Two teams that are tough to figure out. St. Louis has underachieved for much of the season but is finally playing as expected, winning five of their last seven games. They're tied for second with Chicago in the Central Division and have won three straight. They've also been very good on the road this year (9-4-2). Philadelphia is playing reasonably well right now with a 6-2-2 mark in their last ten games. Two reasons we'll be on St. Louis in this one. We love playing the Central Division against the rest of the league. In addition, the scheduling situation is similar to the Anaheim/NY Islanders game above. The Blues have another game on deck while this is the Flyers last contest before the break.
BET ST. LOUIS BLUES -130 OVER PHILADELPHIA FLYERS