The biggest hockey game each year is the Winter Classic, played at some outdoor stadium on New Year’s Day. This year’s features the Sabres and Rangers at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets. And now we know the 2019 version as well: Bruins against Blackhawks at Notre Dame Stadium. It’s the fourth Winter Classic for Chicago, which is 0-3. Boston is 1-1 in the game. Here’s a look at two big NHL picks to bet on this week. Check back for NHL odds. And also, there are no games on Thursday this week because of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Top NHL Picks of the Week – November 20th Edition
Edmonton Oilers at St. Louis Blues
When: Tuesday, 8 PM ET (NBC Sports Network)
A potential Western Conference Finals preview? Could be – the Blues lead the Western Conference in points. The Oilers were the favorites in the West entering the season but have vastly underachieved thus far.
One of the breakout stars of this season has been the Blues’ Brayden Schenn. In Saturday’s 4-3 overtime win at Vancouver, Schenn scored at 2:41 of overtime to extend his point streak to a career-high seven games (5 goals, 10 assists). It was Schenn’s third game-winning goal of the season already. Overall, Schenn now has 8 goals and 26 points in 21 games during his debut season with the Blues. The center’s career high in points is 59 in 2015-16 while with the Flyers. Schenn was acquired by the Blues during the 2017 draft from Philly. St. Louis gave up its first-round pick, a conditional first-rounder in 2018 and forward Jori Lehtera. Schenn carries a hefty contract, which represents a $5.125 million cap hit in each of the next three seasons including this one. But he has been worth every penny thus far.
How Are the Oilers Doing So Far This Season?
Edmonton enters having lost two straight and four of five as it struggles to get scoring from someone other than reigning Hart Trophy winner Connor McDavid. In Saturday’s loss to Dallas, Leon Draisaitl lost his spot on the first line with McDavid. Draisaitl was replaced by Drake Caggiula and moved to the second unit with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Milan Lucic. He picked up three minors on Saturday, his first three of the season, and remains at five goals and 14 points in 16 games. Draisaitl still plays on the first power play unit with McDavid.
St. Louis won in Edmonton 4-1 last Thursday. Schenn had two goals and an assist. Vladimir Sobotka and Alexander Steen also scored for the Blues. Jake Allen made 29 saves. Ryan Strome scored for the Oilers. Cam Talbot turned away 35 shots.
Chicago Blackhawks at Tampa Bay Lightning
When: Wednesday, 7:30 PM ET (NBC Sports Network)
These teams played a terrific Stanley Cup Finals in 2015, with the Blackhawks winning in six close games. Neither has gotten back since. The Hawks’ dynastic reign of three Cups this decade looks finished. The Lightning, though lead the NHL in points as of this writing and have the best goal differential in the league.
Lightning head coach Jon Cooper says he is thrilled with his team’s start to the season. “The first eight or nine games, our goalie was the reason we were winning those games,” Cooper said. “Now we’re winning the games as a team, and you got to like that.” The Bolts are off to the best start in franchise history, but did have a five-game winning streak snapped last time out in a 5-3 home loss to the Islanders. It was only Tampa’s third regulation loss. Tampa Bay stars Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov were both held without a point for just the third time this season. Andrei Vasilevskiy’s record fell to 14-2-1, with a 2.34 goals-against-average and a save percentage of .928.
The Bolts’ first regulation loss was 5-4 at the Panthers on the second night of the season. After that, Cooper went with an 11 forward/seven defenseman lineup, and the team made a conscious effort to defend better. The other regulation loss was Oct. 28 to the visiting Ducks, 4-1. The Lightning got caught playing the Ducks’ more physical, plodding style.
What’s Been Happening with the Blackhawks?
Chicago enters on a two-game winning streak following an impressive 2-1 win at Pittsburgh on Saturday. Corey Crawford allowed one goal on 35. Crawford allowed just one goal against his opponent for the sixth time this season. His 9-7-0 record is just so-so, but goals-against-average is now 2.19 and his save percentage is .933. Crawford briefly left the game in the second period after a collision but returned. The Blackhawks, with five power-play goals in their last three games, have won three of their last four after taking two of their previous seven.
Last year, the Lightning were 2-0 vs. the Hawks. The game in Chicago was 5-2. Tyler Johnson scored two goals 30 seconds apart early in the third. The Lightning broke loose for three goals in a 3:57 span to erase a 2-1 deficit.
Expert Predictions & NHL Picks
The Blues handle the Oilers again, while Tampa Bay will win in Chicago. Be sure to check out the latest hockey odds at MyBookie online sportsbook before selecting you NHL picks. Have fun!