Free NHL Bets and Picks: Columbus Looks for Victory in Florida
The new month continues with a busy Thursday night. Twelve games fill the schedule and the season begins to hit full stride. Here are my free NHL picks for November 2. Odds can be found at BetOnline.
Columbus Blue Jackets (-110) at Florida Panthers (+100)
This game is rated at just about even. I believe this is wrong as the Blue Jackets enter the game with a strong 8-4 record, while the Panthers have struggled to find consistency at 4-6-1. The Blue Jackets should be able to win this game unless Panthers put up a good fight.
Sergei Bobrovsky is continuing where he left off last season after winning the Vezina trophy last season. Bobrovsky has put up a .934 save percentage and a GAA of 1.97. Bobrovsky is 7-2 in his starts this season and I do not expect him to slow down.
The Panthers stumble into this game on a two-game losing streak and goaltending has not been one of their strengths. Roberto Luongo is out with injury for a little while, so the Panthers picked up Antti Niemi off waivers from the Penguins. Niemi is 0-4 on the season with a .814 save percentage and a GAA of 6.92. Niemi has been a disaster and does not look to be at the top of his game.
James Reimer of the Panthers has not been much better. Reimer has posted a .898 save percentage and a GAA of 3.69. The Panthers will need to keep the puck out of the net if they want a chance to win on Thursday night.
The Blue Jackets biggest weakness this season has been their power play. Columbus has scored three goals on thirty-five opportunities this season. That equals out to a league worst 8.6 percent. The Panthers have allowed twelve goals on forty-four penalty kills. If the Blue Jackets are to get the power play running, the Panthers are a good team to start up against.
The Blue Jackets have had spread out scoring all season long. Twenty-one skaters have registered a point for the Blue Jackets this season. Artemi Panarin leads the team with ten points. The point production proves that all lines have been able to do something, which forces a team like Florida to try and match the balance.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs Florida Panthers Prediction
The Panthers have had a majority of the scoring come from Evgeni Dadonov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck. Trocheck has put up eleven points, while the other three all have fourteen. If Columbus can shut them down, Florida will have difficulty scoring.
New York Rangers +1 ½ (-205) at Tampa Bay Lightning -1 ½ (+175)
The Rangers enter the matchup with a lowly 4-7-2 record. Tampa Bay has been ridiculously hot to begin the season. The Lightning hold a league best 10-2-1 record. New York will enter the game starting a back-to-back matchup against both Florida teams.
Henrik Lundqvist and Ondrej Pavelec have both posted similarly bad numbers. Lundqvist has posted a .898 save percentage and a 3.21 GAA. Pavelec has posted a .887 save percentage and a 3.64 GAA. Both goalies have allowed a combined forty-three goals. This will need to improve for the Rangers to come back this season.
Andrei Vasilevskiy has posted a strong .927 save percentage and a 2.46 GAA through eleven games. Backup goalie Peter Budaj has not been as impressive with a .855 save percentage and a 4.00 GAA. Budaj has posted a 0-1-1 record. Lundqvist and Vasilevskiy are expected to start in Thursday night’s matchup.
A large reason for the Lightning’s hot start has been the duo of Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. Stamkos has posted a league high twenty-four points in thirteen games. Kucherov has posted a second best twenty-one points, also in thirteen games. The Rangers point leader is Mika Zibanejad with thirteen points. The Lightning will come out of the gate striking if Stamkos and Kucherov continue their hot streak.
Another edge the Lightning have is on the power play. The Lightning have a 29.63 power play percentage. It is up against the Rangers penalty kill, which is at a near-league average of 79.17 percent. The Lightning could really dominate the Rangers penalty kill.
New York Rangers vs Tampa Bay Lightning
I believe that Tampa Bay has the edge in just about every category. This could lead to the Rangers losing by multiple goals. The Lightning have been a strong team from out the gates this season. They have shown no signs of slowing down, so I expect Tampa Bay to dominate this game.