NHL Thursday Free Picks - Tavares Returns To Long Island

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Lindsay Van Gyn

February 28th, 2019

What we have here is a mess of drama. The Leafs are coming for the Islanders and they’re bringing the thorn in the side of the Long Island fans.

Meanwhile the Philadelphia Flyers are up against a brand new Columbus team that are coming off a bad loss to the Penguins. If you’re up for some depressing hockey, the Coyotes are taking on the Canucks. WHO WILL BE THE WORST (spoiler, it’s both)?! Saving the best for last is the game of the week between the #3 Bruins and #1 Lightning who are facing each other with a new story to be written. High drama, and I'm here for all of it!

[Visit the New Jersey facing sportsbook for up to date lines!]

Toronto Maple Leafs +120 over New York Islanders -140 (7pm EST) 

This is going to be a wild one folks. Taveres is back in town to face his old team and some bad blood but he’s got the red-hot Maple Leafs to back him up. The other reason this is going to be a steamy game is that Leafs don’t suck as they have in the past at Nassau Coliseum. They’ll be looking to prove a point.

The Maple Leafs are on a 16-point win streak and are going for the NHL record when they arrive in Long Island. They’ll be rested and hyped up to continue their 14-0-1-1 SU record with a 7-0-1 SU road record.

However, they may be down a few key players. including forward Mikael Renberg, Trevor Kidd  (groin) and Robert Reichel (unknown). The latter two are still unconfirmed as of today. Jake Gardiner and his replacement, Travis Dermott, are both week-to-week as well meaning there may be some vulnerabilities on the blue line.

As for the Islanders, they’ve been battling out with the Canadian teams as of late. They beat the Oilers and Canucks but failed in both their series against the Calgary Flames. They were 0-4 on the power play against Calgary on Tuesday night. Overall they’ve struggled offensively and have the second worst goals-for record in the East.

The Maple Leafs have a ton of weight on their side and will win this game 4-2.

Boston Bruins over Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 pm ET)

Tampa is running away with it and are on track for a 130 point record which would the 3rd highest in NHL history. They sit in 1st overall in the NHL, 17 points ahead of the 2nd place Bruins in the Eastern Conference.

Kucherov, Stamkos, and Point are all top-ten point scorers in the NHL and have been lethal to almost every team. Yes, they reached their 100 point mark but let’s be honest, they won in a shootout against the Kings. I’m not giving them a pat on the back for that one. What you should be taking away from this is that the Lightning are fallible.

The Bruins returned to their home ice on Tuesday with a bit of swagger lingering from their West Coast trip. They’ve won eight of their last 9 and are 10-0-4 in their past 14.

This is only second time the Bruins and Lightning have clashed this season and last time the Bruins were missing center Bergeron and forward, Chara. These teams are #1 and #3 in the league and it’s a blank slate. This will be an incredibly exciting game and with these teams meeting twice more in regular season, this will be the start of a epic series

Tampa are going to be tired after 3 games in 4 nights with a back-to-back after the Rangers.

The Bruins are ready to take this and you’ll see them tie the series 2-1

Arizona Coyotes over Vancouver Canucks (9 pm EST)

It’s the battle of the wet blankets, folks!

The Canucks will visit the Coyotes and try and avenge their recent loss at home to Arizona. Both these teams are trying to grab the last wild card spot so maybe they’ll muster the energy to entertain

In their previous meeting, the Coyotes seemed to come alive in the 3rd period and had 20 shots on goal whereas the Canucks had a dismal 4. Vancouver got rocked by the Islanders 0-4 but reversed it the next game beating the Ducks 4-0.

If the Canucks get into penalty trouble this is where the Coyotes will take advantage. They are 2nd in the league when it comes to PK. The Nucks are 21-12 ATS on the road so you can bet on them to cover if you dare to tread on the puckline.

The Coyotes are coming off a 4 game win streak and will battle hard to become the final wildcard. Don’t bet on them to cover at home as they are at an event spit (15-15)

Hope can make for an exciting game but ugh, terrible hockey can be boring too. Look for Arizona to take this one 2-0 and then you can watch the Canucks give up...again. This is a "bet and forget" type game. There are just much better things to do with your night than take in Coyotes-Canucks. 

Philadelphia Flyers over Columbus Blue Jackets (7 pm EST) 

The Blue Jackets have four new players and they threw them into the pan for a rival fight against the Penguins on Tuesday night. Needless to say, cutting off their losing streak was top of mind but the revamped team didn’t fair well.

The Flyers were able to pull out of a two game skid beating the Sabers on Tuesday so they’ll be skating on to the ice as the team with steam. However, Columbus is better overall on both defense and offense.

The Jackets are within one point of a playoff spot and the Flyers are at a 7 point deficit so they are just as desperate to win this game. Philly has a winning record against every division but their own so this needs to seal the deal.

With a 12-20 ATS at home Columbus cannot be trusted to cover. The Flyers are a bit better with their on the road ATS at 18-12.

The recent stats show that Philly has a much better chance here in terms of the straight up win. They are 5-1 SU in their last 6 road games and 14-4 SU in their last overall 18. The Blue Jackets are 2-6 SU in their last 8 home games with the Flyers and 1-4 SU in their last 5 vs the Eastern Conference.

Maybe Columbus just needed to get their new team to get their legs under them and we’ll see a turnaround. I can’t ignore the recent stats and for that reason, I’m taking the Flyers 3-1.

Lindsay Van Gyn has a masters degree in sports communications focusing on the NFL. She is a passionate writer who focuses on the cultural intersection of sports, statistics and fans.