I am a sucker for a good narrative, and there is no bigger storyline on Thursday and Jack Eichel making another return to Buffalo. His messy divorce from the Sabres after six years was well-documented and full of animosity.
When Eichel made his first return to Buffalo last season, he was booed the entire game as Buffalo won 3-1. Alex Tuch, the key piece of the return in the trade for Eichel, scored from the Sabres and it was clear that Buffalo got the better of him that night.
Now fully healthy and returning to league-MVP caliber form, I think Eichel gets his revenge in round two. Vegas enters with the best record in the NHL and Eichel has talied 15 points in 14 games. He has scored six goals on the year, including three in the last five games. He enters the game on a six-game point streak and you know after how his return last season went, he will want to quiet the crowd in this one.
If Mat Barzal doesn’t score he tonight he might not score all season. Barzal is averaging over a point per game this season, despite not having a goal to his credit. He is third in the NHL with 14 assists but hasn’t been able to light the lamp.
It hasn’t been for lack of trying, as Barzal averages 2.7 shots per game, which is actually up from his career average of 2.2. He should have plenty of opportunities against an Arizona Coyotes team that allows the second most shots on goal per game and allows the fifth most goals per game.
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This is just a bad number over at BetRivers. Other books are posting a 3.5 with plus odds, but -125 is a good price for the adjusted 2.5 number. Tkachuk leads the Senators with 45 shots on goal this season, and average of 3.75 shots per game.
In 12 games this year, the Senators’ Captain has eclipsed this total in eight of them. I expect this to be a higher scoring game with plenty of chances for both teams and when Ottawa is scoring, Tkachuk is usually right in the middle of it.
I mentioned in my Best Bets article today that I liked Edmonton here because Carolina would have tired legs playing back-to-back and was starting their third-string goalie. That is a scary matchup when facing the best player on the planet.
Connor McDavid looks poised to win his first Rocket Richard Trophy as the league’s leading goal scorer this season. He leads the league with a ridiculous 14 goals in 14 games. He has scored in nine games this year, a 64% rate.
At +115, this implies he only has a 46.5% chance to score tonight. Based on what we have seen from him this season, and the situational spot facing Carolina, I think it is more likely than not McDavid finds the back of the net again here.
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Mike is an avid bettor of college football, baseball, and hockey. He grew up in Connecticut but now lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of Penn State University and has worked in pro hockey and baseball throughout his career. Mike also covers college football and baseball for The Action Network and co-hosts the "Group of Five Deep Dive" show as part of Big Bets on Campus podcast.More info on Michael Ianniello
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