Right off the bat, we're going with an underdog. The Rangers are 4-7-3 and in seventh in the East Division after having lost four straight games. However, there's reason to think they'll win this game.
First off, the Flyers are just returning to the ice after a COVID-19 layoff. Philadelphia's last game was Feb. 7, over 10 days ago.
Not only will they likely be a little rusty when they return to action, but they'll also be missing several key point-producers who are on the COVID-19 list, including Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Travis Konecny and Scott Laughton.
As for the Rangers, their offense has gone cold over the last four games. However, there's plenty of reason to expect a bounce-back. New York is only averaging 2.36 goals per game despite averaging 32.1 shots, the second-most in the NHL. As a result, its shooting percentage is the second-lowest in hockey.
Compare that to Philadelphia, which averages the league's fewest amount of shots with 23.7 but averages 3.54 goals with the league's top shooting percentage. Some major puck luck is due for New York, while Philadelphia is due for some regression.
New York has some injuries of its own. Leading scorer Artemi Panarin and defenseman K'Andre Miller are day-to-day, while another defenseman, Jacob Trouba, sustained a broken thumb and will miss the next month-plus.
However, the Rangers should still have plenty of opportunities against a Flyers team that also allows the second-most shots and boasts the league's third-worst penalty kill. Take New York to bounce back.
The New York Islanders are rolling, having won five out of six. While one of those wins was against the Penguins, their lone loss was as well. With the teams playing again except now in Pittsburgh, look for the home team to get the victory.
Even with no fans, the game's location certainly matters. On home ice, Pittsburgh is 5-1-0, with the lone loss coming Tuesday to the Capitals.
Meanwhile, New York is just 4-4-2 on the road, racking up six of its seven losses. So the Penguins are definitely happy to be home in this matchup.
Besides that, the Penguins more than held their own in each of the last two games against the Islanders. In their loss, Pittsburgh outshot New York by five and outhit it by nine, while in its win, the Penguins outshot their opponents by six and outhit them by the same margin.
On the year, both teams are averaging about 29.5 shots, with Pittsburgh having the slight advantage with 2.93 goals per game compared to New York's 2.53.
There is a risk with New York being so good defensively, ranking in the top five in several defensive categories. Goaltender Semyon Varlamov has also been excellent.
But Tristan Jarry has rebounded from his tough start, and with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jake Guentzel all in full form, look for the Penguins to grab the win Thursday night.
Two of the worst offenses in hockey will go head-to-head Thursday night. The Anaheim Ducks have been trading off wins and losses as of late, while the Minnesota Wild were blanked out on Tuesday in their first game since Feb. 2.
But when these teams face off in Anaheim, bet on the home underdogs to get the win.
The teams split their first two meetings earlier this season. In each game, Minnesota outshot Anaheim while the Ducks were also spending a significant amount of time in the penalty box.
While Minnesota may win the shot battle again, Anaheim is averaging the second-fewest minutes in the box per game with a top-five penalty kill. Expect the Ducks to spend more time at even strength on Thursday.
The Ducks are averaging the league's fewest goals per game at 1.94 on just under 27 shots. But the Wild aren't much better, averaging 2.5 goals on 30 shots.
Minnesota is also one of two teams with a worse power play than Anaheim, so expect the home team to be alright on special teams if it comes to that.
Truthfully, the big X-factor in the game is John Gibson. The Ducks netminder has been a star this season, facing a heavy amount of shots, particularly early in the season, and still boasting an impressive 2.33 GAA and .921 save percentage.
Gibson also has three shutouts already this season, one of them coming against Minnesota.
With a couple of veterans still out due to COVID-19 for the Wild and the potential of another excellent game from Gibson, look for the Ducks to win this one at home, providing some decent value to your bet.
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