New Year NHL Picks of the Week
The 2016-17 NHL season may be taking a backset to both, the NFL and college football bowl season, but I’m putting hockey back in the spotlight with a trio of potentially bankroll-boosting picks that are all offering a ton of value. With three intriguing matchups highlighting my ‘treyfecta’ of picks for the first week of 2017, let’s get started.
New Year NHL Picks of the Week
Toronto at Washington
When: Tuesday, January 3 at 7:00 PM ET
Where: Verizon Center, Washington, DC
Analysis: The Maple Leafs (17-12-2-5) beat the Caps 4-2 the last time they met, but the top two teams in the Eastern Conference figure to stage another thriller in this intriguing affair.
Toronto is led by a trio of gifted rookies in Calder Cup favorite Auston Matthews (20 goals) and fellow first-year players William Nylander and Mitch Marner.
Washington (22-9-1-4) is led by superstar forward Alex Ovechkin, center Nicklas Backstrom (30 points) and goaltender Brian Holtby has been on fire recently. The Capitols have posted a fantastic 13-5 mark at home this season while Toronto has struggled in posting a mediocre 7-6-2-3 mark on the road.
More importantly, the Caps have the statistical edge in defense, penalty killing, face-offs and goaltending. Washington returns the favor by getting the two-goal win at home.
Pick: Washington by a couple
NY Rangers at Philadelphia
When: Wednesday, January 4, at 8:00 PM ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Analysis: These two longtime rivals last faced each other on Black Friday with the Rangers recording a 3-2 win that day. New York (26-12-0-1) is currently in third place in the Metropolitan division while Philly has posted a fine, 20-14-1-4 mark to date.
Philadelphia’s Jakub Voracek has been outstanding in putting 35 points on the board while Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds have been equally impressive in scoring an identical 32 points. Philadelphia ranks fourth in goals this season (116) but has been ‘loose’ at best defensively in giving up a whopping 120 goals to rank a dismal 28th in goals allowed.
New York leads the league in goals scored at a whopping 135 with forward Derek Stepan putting up a team-high 30 points. The Rangers have the statistical edge in scoring, defense and goaltending and that will be enough to lift the Rangers to the narrow road win to improve on their 7-3 mark in their last 10 games.
Pick: NY Rangers
Minnesota at San Jose
When: Thursday, January 6 at 10:30 PM ET
Where: SAP Center, San Jose, CA
TV: CSCA, FSN
Analysis: The red-hot Minnesota Wild (23-9-2-2) will hit the rod to take on the Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks (23-13-1) in my top game of the week and a possible Western Conference Finals preview.
The Wild are second in the Western Conference in points (50) and are getting Vezina Cup Trophy-contending play from goaltender Devan Dubnyk as he sits among the league leaders in save percentage and goals against average.
San Jose (47 points) just doesn’t give the opposition many quality shot attempts to make life simple for goaltender Martin Jones. Brent Burns (35 points) and Joel Pavelski (34 points) are leading the San Jose offense while Ryan Suter and Eric Staal have done the majority of offensive damage for the Wild this season. San Jose gets it done at home in a nail-biter.
Pick: San Jose