NHL Top Betting Picks for Saturday, April 23

Slowly but surely, we’ve reached the final full week of the 2022 NHL regular season. And it could turn out to be a somewhat anti-climactic closing week.

The playoff field for the Eastern Conference is set. The only three teams still with something to play for are Washington, Pittsburgh, and Boston, tied with 99 points. The Penguins and Capitals are fighting for third place in the Metropolitan division, which would give them a more manageable first-round matchup against the New York Rangers. The Bruins can earn the top wild card spot to ensure they avoid the top-seeded Florida Panthers in the first round and play the Carolina Hurricanes instead.

The playoff field is a little less solidified in the Western Conference. Five of the eight playoff spots are clinched, and the Los Angeles Kings should soon make it six. That leaves the Nashville Predators, Dallas Stars, Vegas Golden Knights and Vancouver Canucks fighting for the two remaining wild card spots.

In the final week of the regular season, I put an emphasis on being selective. I try to avoid matchups involving teams with nothing to play for. And with so many teams having clinched playoff berths, I take a little more time to verify lineups before making picks. Some teams that are safely in the field may take their foot off the gas, give key players rest and roll with backup goaltenders.

Now that the context is set, let’s jump into my favorite plays for the final full Saturday slate of the 2022 NHL season.

Compare odds from all major sportsbooks for today’s games >>

Carolina Hurricanes (-225) at New Jersey Devils (+180), Total 6.5 

The Carolina Hurricanes have been one of the league’s juggernauts for much of the 2022 season. However, the strength of Carolina’s storm seems to be weakening at the wrong time.

Carolina has scuffled along to a 5-5 record over its last 10 contests. Last weekend, they lost Vezina Trophy candidate Frederik Andersen to a lower body injury that could hold him out for the rest of the regular season. The hope is that Andersen can return between the pipes by the start of the playoffs, but the Canes would be smart to prepare for a world with Antti Raanta between the pipes when the postseason starts.

Despite their less than encouraging results, the advanced metrics still suggest Carolina is playing at an elite level. The Hurricanes are third in the league in expected goals for percentage and have generated the second-most high danger chances in the league over their last 10 games.

The problem continues to be finishing, as the Canes are converting on just 8.05% of their shot attempts. Part of that is by design, as Carolina’s identity is to hurl just about everything at the net and see where a piece of rubber will go on a slick sheet of ice. But come playoff time, Carolina needs to do a better job of taking advantage of how well they control play.

In this particular matchup, Carolina will go up against a New Jersey team that yields a ton of goals thanks to the worst collection of goaltending in the league. Whether it’s Andrew Hammond or Nico Daws, the Hurricanes should have no issues lighting the lamp with regularity. Hammond has a -5.2 goals saved above expected rating in just nine games, while Daws has posted a -7.5 rating in that category.

Carolina needs to build some momentum for what hopes to be a deep playoff run. Rather than lay heavy juice or lay a hefty 1.5 goals, I’m going to isolate Carolina’s team total.

The pick: Carolina team total over 3.5 goals (-130 at DraftKings)

New York Rangers (+120) at Boston Bruins (-140), Total 5.5 

Perhaps the best game of the day will take place at the TD Garden, where the Rangers and Bruins will square off in what could ultimately be a playoff preview.

Both of these teams have the capability to represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Final. However, the Bruins aren’t quite at full strength right now, as top scorer David Pastrnak and defenseman Hampus Lindholm remain day-to-day with the hopes of getting healthy in time for the postseason.

Boston’s offense has scuffled as of late, scoring just nine goals in their last five outings. The Bruins tend to play a heavier, grittier game even with Pastrnak in the lineup. Boston ranks middle of the pack in goals scored and are fourth in goals allowed. Jeremy Swayman has emerged as Boston’s new netminder of the future, and ranks 15th among all goaltenders in expected goals saved above expected.

The Rangers, meanwhile, have transformed from a team that defied advanced analytics into a formidable contender in the East. New York has had top-end scoring and elite goaltending all season. But recently, their defensive play has improved dramatically. In their last 10 games, New York ranks sixth in scoring changes against and third in high danger scoring chances allowed.

New York has a bunch of awesome players, but their MVP this season has been goaltender Igor Shesterkin, who leads the league in goals saved above expected. The likely Vezina Trophy should be in the crease for this showdown.

The Bruins have a defensive identity, while New York’s defensive structure in shaping into form just in time for the playoffs. This should be a low-scoring affair with playoff-like intensity. Make sure Shesterkin and Swayman are between the pipes before taking the under.

The pick: Under 5.5 goals (-110 DraftKings)

New York Islanders (-136) at Buffalo Sabres (+116), Total 6 

I know I’m breaking the rule I mentioned above, so I’ll keep this one brief. The Sabers are simply in much better form than the Islanders. New York is 4-5-1 in their last 10 contests, while Buffalo is 5-5. The Isles are dead last in expected goals for over that 10-game stretch and are struggling mightily to generate scoring opportunities.

I’ll have a bit more trepidation about this game if Ilya Sorokin is in net for the Islanders. The Sabres will go with Dustin Tokarski, a below-average netminder. But the Islanders have nothing to play for and are simply playing out the string in a terribly disappointing season. The Sabres are playing better hockey right now and are worth a small play at plus-money.

The pick: Sabres +116 (BetRivers)

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The post NHL Top Betting Picks for Saturday, April 23 appeared first on BettingPros.

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Author: Micheal May