FREE NHL Picks: December 20, 2017

Toronto Maple Leafs(21-13-1) vs Columbus Blue Jackets(20-13-1) 

Pretty identical records between these two, and they both sit atop their division right now. The Maple Leafs are coming off an absolute shell shack of a win vs the Hurricanes Tuesday night, as they won 8-1. A quick turn around for the Leafs is going to be difficult but getting the monkey off their back and seeing their offense produce is a sign upwards. Auston Matthews did in fact travel with the team to Columbus, but still, his availability is unknown right now. It seems the medical staff won’t clear him to play but coach Mike Babcock wants him in the lineup. The Leafs will be going with the backup Curtis McElhinney tonight, as Anderson started Tuesday. The Leafs are 6-4-0 in their last ten and 10-8-1 on the road, but they head into the Nationwide Arena, against a good home team. The Blue Jackets are coming off a day of rest after getting shelled vs the Bruins Monday night. The Jackets line up is healthy and has no major injury reports at the moment. Right now the Jackets sit tied for the #3 spot in the Metropolitan division, a win is crucial for this team. In the last ten, the Jackets are 5-5-0 and post a 12-6-0 home record this season. Against Atlantic division teams the Jackets are 5-4 and the Leafs against Metropolitan teams are 5-6. The two meet for the first of three meeting this season and tonight I am going Columbus.

Detroit Red Wings(13-13-7) vs Philadelphia Flyers(14-12-7) 

The Flyers are coming off a days of rest after losing to the Kings Monday night and the Red Wings are going back to back after stealing a win from the Islanders Tuesday night. The Flyers this year have been the same old team, a roller coaster team that hits peaks and then drops into slumps in the blink of an eye. We never really know what to expect with the Flyers, and in their last ten they are 6-3-1 and post a 7-7-4 home record. The Red Wings are a young, explosive team right now that rank up similar to the Flyers, a very inconsistent team that still has yet to really find an identity. The Red Wings win last night is a major confidence booster though as they buried six against a top team in the NHL. In their last, the Red Wings are 3-4-3 and post a 7-7-1 away record. The Red Wings are 0-3 vs Metropolitan teams this year and the Flyers are 4-2 vs Atlantic teams this season. This game will also be displayed on NBCSN for Wednesday’s NHL Rivalry night. This will for sure be a close game and come down to the wire, but with days rest, at home, go Flyers.

St. Louis Blues(22-11-2) vs Calgary Flames(17-14-3) 

The Blues need to get back in the win column and do it more consistently since the injury to Jaden Schwartz, Tarasenko and Schenn have been quiet and Vladimir Sobotka has not filled the void of Schwartz well. The Blues are only without Schwartz as Patrick Berglund has returned to the lineup, and Alex Pietrangelo has as well. This team has been great all year, and their recent mishaps are just a bump in the road. The Blues are 5-4-1 in their last ten and post a 10-4-2 away record. The Flames this season have seen success from two guys, while each week it is a new player stepping up, one week it can be Micahel Frolik, the next Michael Ferland, the next Sam Bennett, you get the point, their depth scoring has been inconsistent and their sturdy blue line has not proved to be “sturdy” this season as they do have a -5 goal differential and allow the 16th most goals against in the NHL. The Flames are 4-4-2 in their last ten and 8-10-0 at home, one of the few teams to have a better road record than home record. The Blues this year are 6-4 vs Pacific division teams and the Flames are 4-6 vs Central division teams. These two teams have met twice this season already and this will be the final meeting for the regular season between the two, the series is tied at one apiece. Tonight I am going, St. Louis.


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