Welcome to the weekly installment of my “NHL Games To Watch” betting column. I’ll preview some of the marquee games each week taking place between Thursday and Sunday, targeting some interesting betting spots and looking for potential value with undervalued sides and totals.
Tampa Bay Lightning @ Vegas Golden Knights
Thursday, Feb. 20, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT
It will be quite the atmosphere at T-Mobile Arena as the Golden Knights get a chance to snap the Lightning’s franchise-record 11-game winning streak. Vegas has started to get back into form, winning three in a row at home against the Blues, the Islanders and the Capitals. Marc-Andre Fleury has been back to his usual self in net. At the offensive end, Max Pacioretty has a team-leading 27 goals and nine points in eight February games. Tampa Bay has averaged 3.45 goals per game and surrendered only 1.72 during its unbeaten streak. Six of those 11 wins came on the road, so this will be a difficult task for Vegas. The Lightning should have Blake Coleman in the lineup for the first time after trading with New Jersey to get him. He is a solid two-way player in the midst of the best offensive season of his career. Though Vegas is playing well, when I see a team on a win streak of this magnitude, I don’t stand in front of the streak. It will be Tampa Bay or pass for this bettor.
Pittsburgh Penguins @ Washington Capitals
Sunday, Feb. 23, noon ET/9 a.m. PT
With the Penguins surging and the Capitals struggling before this NBC showdown, we could have a battle for first in the Metro Division. Washington has led the division most of the season, but the Capitals are just 2-5 in February heading into Thursday’s game against Montreal. As a result, their Metro lead had fallen to one point over the Penguins. Pittsburgh had gone 5-1-1 ahead of its game Tuesday against Toronto and recently added Jason Zucker in a trade with Minnesota. Zucker made an instant impact with three points in his first two games with the Penguins playing on the top line alongside Sidney Crosby and Dominik Simon. The Penguins have gotten excellent goaltending from Tristan Jarry. Washington has been having trouble keeping the puck out of its net. The Capitals have allowed three or more goals in seven of their last nine, which is why they added defenseman Brenden Dillon from the Sharks. Both teams will be playing the second game of back-to-backs, so neither has a scheduling edge. The Capitals have been better on the road than at home, and the value might lie with the visiting Penguins in this spot.