Best Bets, Score Predictions for Thursday Feb. 11
NHL Daily Free Picks & Predictions
VegasInsider.com NHL expert Matt Blunt provides his score predictions and best bets for two NHL games on Thursday Feb. 11, 2021.
Pittsburgh vs New York Islanders
- Money-Line Odds: Pittsburgh -115 New York Islanders -105
- Total (Over-Under): 5.5
Score Prediction: Pittsburgh 4 New York 2
Best Bet: Pittsburgh ML
Latter half of consecutive matchups against the Islanders for Pittsburgh, even with it stretched out over the course of six days. The Islanders squeezed in a 2-0 shutout over the Rangers in between these games though, and with the first meeting coming right down to the wire, that extra juice in Pittsburgh's legs might prove to be the difference.
Statistically, the Penguins have to figure some things out defensively still, and with only one of their five wins coming in regulation, Pens games have really played out like the coin flip price tag they tend to have with Pittsburgh on the road. This team is too good to be sitting at 1-5 SU on the road this year, and with them actually being the ones not having to travel since that last meeting, maybe it's that kind of oddity that helps the Penguins get things corrected away from home.
For as good as the Islanders' defensive numbers have been these last 24 months – and continue to be this year sitting 5th in xGA/60 at 2.37 – they never seem to show those cards against Pittsburgh. Ever since New York's defense under Barry Trotz swept away Pittsburgh in the first round of the April 2019 playoffs, Pittsburgh's ML results haven't exactly been there, but they've figured out how to score on the Islanders.
Last year's three regular season games were all played early in the season and all were decided in extra time. New York won two of those and then won the first meeting this year, meaning it's been seven wins in eight tries for the Islanders over Pittsburgh. A fact I doubt is lost on this Penguins team that's been sitting around anxious to get another crack at these guys.
Having not won a game by more than a single goal yet either, that explosion-type effort where the Pens just dominate is going to come eventually, and with it being a favorable travel spot for the Penguins, against an opponent they'll be plenty motivated for, siding with the Penguins image on this potential coin flip game against between these two is the more comfortable option.
Calgary vs Vancouver
- Money-Line Odds: Calgary -145 Vancouver +128
- Total (Over-Under): 6.5
Score Prediction: Calgary 5 Vancouver 4
Best Bet: Over 6.5
The Vancouver Canucks are back at home after a trip out East that couldn't have gone any worse. Not only did Vancouver go 0-5 SU in two against Montreal and three against Toronto, but they were outscored 26-10 in those five games, an average of 5.2 goals allowed per game. Yet, the O/U record was only 3-2 despite all those tallies against Vancouver, as the last two losses against Toronto stayed low thanks to just a single goal from Vancouver in both contests.
But now the Canucks are back at home after a couple of days off, Vancouver's back in a building where they've averaged scoring 4.5 goals themselves, and putting up at least 3 in all but one of those six games.
They are likely to face an old friend in G Jacob Markstrom again, and after he went 2-0 SU against Vancouver with one shutout in the first two meetings this year, I think the Canucks offense is in a good spot to get some measure of payback in that regard.
Calgary isn't likely to have too much issue in a track meet style of game if that's how this plays out, and they've got to figure there is a good chance it could given how most Canucks games against everyone have played out this year.
The Flames have the talent up front to hold their own in that type of game against most anyone in this league, so trusting them to score rather than win here may be the safer route to go in this game. Calgary got used to playing fast-paced games a year ago which is why they went out and got Markstrom to upgrade that position.
With a 3.6 xGA/60 number as currently the worst in the league, Vancouver's atrocious defense will give the Flames plenty of opportunities to get 3-4 goals as it is. And the Markstrom move as an overall upgrade this year should work out to a degree for Calgary, but I'm not sure that the third time against his rested, old buddies is a game we end up seeing his best.
Vancouver's on a 6-0 O/U run after getting a full two days off, 4-1 O/U in their last five as a home underdog, and 10 of the past 14 between these two have cashed 'over' tickets in the end. Don't see this game being any different.
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