Battle of Alberta tops NHL schedule

By Ian Cameron  () 

Welcome to the weekly installment of my “NHL Games To Watch” betting column. I’ll preview some of the marquee NHL games each week taking place between Thursday and Sunday targeting some interesting betting spots and looking for potential value with undervalued sides and totals. 

Edmonton Oilers @ Calgary Flames

Saturday, Feb. 1 (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT)

The Battle of Alberta takes on heightened importance as Edmonton and Calgary are in a wide-open five-team race for the Pacific Division lead along with Arizona, Vegas and Vancouver. Edmonton has enjoyed a terrific resurgence under coach Dave Tippett, who has implemented a stronger defensive-minded structure while getting more secondary scoring from  Josh Archibald, Alex Chiasson, Kailer Yamamoto and James Neal to help stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Calgary needs its top players to step up, as Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk were on three- and five-game pointless streaks, respectively. Edmonton has been on a tear at 5-1-1 in January and will look to keep that momentum going coming out of the All-Star break. The Oilers had scored 28 goals in their last six games. This will be these rivals’ second meeting in four days, as they also face off Wednesday night in Edmonton. Calgary won the previous two meetings this season and is 6-2 in the last eight meetings against the Oilers. I’ll likely be looking to back the losing team of the first game in the rematch Saturday. I’ll lean Over the total if Calgary starts Cam Talbot in net but may consider the Under if David Rittich gets the call. 

Pittsburgh Penguins @ Washington Capitals

Sunday, Feb. 2 (12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT)

The Penguins are 3-2 since getting Sidney Crosby back from injury and will face the Capitals in a battle between the best teams in the Metro Division in a national TV clash before the Super Bowl. Pittsburgh sustained itself with a rock-solid worth ethic and attention to detail away from the puck to stay in the mix for the division lead despite missing Crosby for several weeks. The Penguins also got tremendous offensive efforts in his absence from Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust, who have combined for 83 points. They have also gotten contributions from their third and fourth lines. Washington remains ahead of Pittsburgh by six points for the Metro lead. The Capitals have won four straight, including a win at Montreal in their first game back from the All-Star break. One area of concern for Washington is the struggle of veteran goalie Braden Holtby. Ilya Samsonov has been getting more starts recently due to Holtby’s inconsistency. I am leaning toward Pittsburgh, as the two points are vital if the Penguins hope to catch the Capitals in the division and Pittsburgh has taken three of the last four regular-season encounters.

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