NHL Odds with Jimmy the Bag: Thursday, March 18th

NHL Odds with Jimmy the Bag: Thursday, March 18th: Jimmy, the Bag, takes a breather from March Madness and looks to our other money maker, his awesome reads of the NHL odds card.

Jimmy’s Official 2021 NHL Record

2021 NHL Season % W L Units Avg. Line ROI
Jimmy the Bag 45.7% 63 75 -3.66u +129 -2.65%

NHL Picks for Thursday, March 18th

Pittsburgh Penguins (18-10-1, 6-7-1 AWAY) at New Jersey Devils (9-13-4, 3-10-2 HOME)
Prudential Center, Newark, NJ

The Penguins’ 6 game winning streak was snapped in a 2-1 loss on Tuesday at home to the Bruins. In their 4-1 win the night before over the Bruins, Evgeni Malkin was the 1st star with 1g 1a. It was his 8th straight game with points. Over that span, he has 4g 8a and is a +6. In the 2-1 loss he logged just 3:43 of ice time. They went 0/4 on the power play without him. Before the game started, they announced that 3rd line center Teddy Blueger was out for an extended period with a UBI. So if Malkin doesn’t return. Which is what I am betting on here. They will be missing their 2nd and 3rd line centers. They are also missing winger Jared McCann. This is a team that already lacks depth. We’ve seen this story before. Sidney Crosby puts the team on his back, and they play very clean responsible hockey. They are often more than the sum of their parts, and I don’t trust this Jersey team. If Malkin doesn’t play, I expect the Penguins to play very conservative hockey and struggle with Power play. That’s why I am moving on the FGU5.5(+100), and PenguinsTTU2.5 is +200, and U3.5 is -135. So I can put that into my Puckline calculator and get a TTU3(+128). I love that bet. Pens have to score 4 to lose.

The Devils had lost four straight and 9/10 before they squeaked out a win against the worst team in the league in the Sabres 3-2 at home on Tuesday night. Nico Hischier underwent successful surgery to repair a frontal sinus fracture Tuesday. He’ll be out for at least three more weeks. I think the 2017 1st overall pick will be an outstanding player in the NHL. Without him in the lineup, this team has very little. 2019 1st overall pick Jack Hughes continues to struggle offensively; he has 35 points in 87 career games and is a -27. He’s been better this year with 14p in 26 games and much better defensively at -1. That -1 is impressive on a team this bad. The players they have brought over from the KHL in Yegor Sharangovich and Nikita Gusev have been a bust. First-line center and leading scorer Pavel Zach suffered an undisclosed injury, and it is unclear if he will play tonight. He didn’t practice yesterday. Their goaltending has been very good of late, and I am hoping that will continue tonight.

Philadelphia Flyers (14-10-3, 7-5-1 AWAY) at New York Islanders (19-7-4, 12-0-2 HOME)
Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY

The Flyers are coming off being absolutely embarrassed 9-0 last night at MSG by the Rangers. What happens now? They are at a crossroads. Alain Vigneault is a great coach. He’s not going to come in there hootin and hollering. But he’s going to have expectations of these men to get their shit together. Because if they don’t, they won’t make the playoffs, Vigneault will get fired, and this team will be stripped down and sold for parts. There will likely be a players-only meeting. This team has a lot of veterans on it. Is Giroux going to step up? Van Riemsdyk? Somebody better. This is either the turning point of the season, or they clean house. Their goaltending has been absolutely atrocious. Carter Hart better step up tonight. The whole team needs to step up because the other teams in the NHL don’t feel sorry for them. Especially when you’re playing the whole season in your division. The good thing is that the Flyers don’t travel; they stay in New York to play the Islanders. They have no injuries; they have no excuses; they have to look in the mirror and make some decisions.

The Islanders have been playing good hockey. They are tied for first in the NHL with the Panthers, Capitals, and Lightning at 42 points. They just had their nine-game winning streak snapped on Tuesday night in a 3-1 loss at Washington. It’s not easy to win nine games in a row in the NHL; it does help if you play New Jersey in 4 of those games and Buffalo in 3 of them. Don’t get me wrong; this is a good hockey team. Are they a great one? They indeed lost an important player when 1st line left winger Anders Lee tore his ACL. The 6th round pick out of Notre Dame has earned everything he’s received. He has 12g 7a for 19p in 27 games. He’s a +11. He’s a big body at 6’3 235 pounds. There’s a reason why a guy as sharp as Lou Lamoriello would sign him for seven years at 49 million. Not a lot of 6 round draft picks making that kind of cake. Bryan Bellows’s son, 2016 1st round pick Kiefer will get a shot at replacing Lee on that first line. This team has terrible cross ratings, but they are more than the sum of their parts. Mathew Barzal will be on Team Canada next year, and while the Beavillier/Nelson/Bailey is ranked poor in cross numbers, the eye test says they’re a good 2nd line. Varlamov has given them excellent goaltending; I’m just not sure how to handle them. Obviously, not backing them has caused me to leave money on the table. I will be fading them here.

Nashville Predators (12-16-1, 5-9-1 AWAY at Florida Panthers (19-5-4, 9-3-3 HOME)
BB&T Center, Sunrise, FL

I know the Predators got me in the bottom mouth on the Monday show when they defeated the Lightning 4-1, but the outcome was an anomaly, and I will show no fear attacking them again. I will bet against them every night until their top 2 defensemen Roman Josi, and Ryan Ellis, are back. They’re also missing Mark Borewiecki from the back end. It’s an excellent opportunity to showcase Mattias Ekholm before you trade him, but little else. Matt Duchene is out, and I think that helps them. He does nothing. He’s in his boxers eating Kraft dinner with hot dogs playing video games right now. He likes being hurt. Brad Richardson and Luke Kunin are also hurt. I like Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson on the eye test, but their Corsi numbers aren’t good. They state that there are 80 wingers in the NHL better than them. I’ll fade them again here.

The Panthers have won 4 straight, are tied for 1st in the NHL, and I am not sold on them. Huberdeau and Barkov have been excellent. Hornqvist and Verhaeghe have been better than anyone could have possibly expected. Aaron Ekblad is having his best season in the NHL. It’s hard to believe the 2014 1st overall pick is just 24. He’s been excellent as of late. He has 4g 5a in March and is a +4, and has only taken one minor penalty. Keith Yandle hasn’t been a complete 5/5 liability. Bobrovsky has been better, but it still looks like an awful signing. I am not betting on the Panthers here as much as I am betting against the Predators.

Minnesota Wild (18-8-1, 8-5-1 AWAY) at Colorado Avalanche (17-8-2, 10-4-1 HOME)
Ball Arena, Denver, CO

The Minnesota Wild are playing excellent hockey. It feels like I say that on every show. They have won 5 straight and outscored Vegas and Arizona 17-4 over that span with three shutouts. They are getting quality hockey up and down the lineup and have a sniper in likely rookie of the year Kirill Kaprizov. Mats Zuccarello seems to be the perfect fit for him. They have skill, size, leadership. Strong defense. Their goaltending with Kahkonen and Talbot has been exceptional. No one is going to want to play them in the playoffs. They did lose Marcus Foligno to injury, and the 6’3 225 pounds rugged winger has been excellent with 16p and is a +13. He’ll be out a month.

This will be a very intense hockey game. The Avalanche has won 4 straight without 2 of their top 4 defensemen and 3 of their top 6 in Cale Makar, Bowen Byram, and Erik Johnson. They are also missing defensemen Conor Timmins who came in to replace Johnson. Forward JT Compher is also out of the lineup. If this team gets healthy, I still like them to win the Stanley Cup but have no problem betting against them here. To win four straight missing all those key players is a sign of an excellent team. Their forward group is so deep and has so much skill. Rantanen, Mackinnon, and Landeskog haven’t even got going yet. When they do, lookout; they are coming off-putting up eight goals against the extremely weak Ducks. I still think they will have difficulty scoring as they used to without getting those pristine outlet passes from Makar and Byram. They still have Girard, but he has to log such heavy minutes that he won’t pinch and risk. This is a great hockey team that I am happy to fade here.

Arizona Coyotes (12-13-4, 5-6-1 AWAY) at Anaheim Ducks (8-16-6, 4-10-3 HOME)
Honda Center, Anaheim, CA

The Coyotes have lost four straight and have been outscored 13-2 over those four games. That was against the elite of the division in the Avalanche and Wild. They are going to find much smoother sailing against the Ducks. When the going gets tough, the Coyotes plan tomorrow’s picnic. They need a 30 yr old Rick Tocchet out there. What they have are small forwards who don’t pay the price. Clayton Keller is so skilled, but he doesn’t go into the dirty areas. Their top 6 forwards are weak. What more do I have to say about Phil Kessel? Punky Brewster needs a breast reduction. Their defense is good, mobile, and can send outlet passes, but when good teams shut down the neutral zone, you have to get it deep and win battles, and this group just doesn’t seem able to do it. BUT, as I said, things will be much easier against this terrible Coyotes squad.

The Ducks have lost four straight. They are coming off an exciting game against an understaffed Avalanche squad, starting an undrafted 25-year-old journeyman goaltender in Hunter Miska. I had the Ducks 1stP at +190, and the Ducks were all over Miska in the early going. By the end of the first, they had scored four goals on seven shots and were up 4-2. Philipp Grubauer came in between the pipes for the A’s, and they scored six unanswered goals to win 8-4. The Ducks are terrible from top to bottom. They don’t have one area of the game that they are good in. Not enough skill or size at forward. A weak defense made even weaker with Hampus Lindholm hurt and atrocious goaltending from either Gibson or Miller. It looks like Gibson is dealing with a lower-body injury of some kind, so it will be Ryan Miller. This team is fade, fade, fade.

Montreal Canadiens Odds