Home | News | Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week – January 1st, 2024

Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week – January 1st, 2024

By Hank Blaine

Some pretty big goaltending news over the weekend as the Toronto Maple Leafs have waived former No. 1 Ilya Samsonov – although it doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t play for the club again. The 26-year-old is 5-2-6 with an NHL career worst in both save percentage (.862) and goals-against average (3.94) this season. Samsonov will be assigned to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League if he clears waivers. Here are two intriguing early-week NHL matchups and picks.

Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week (January 1st, 2024)

Calgary Flames vs. Minnesota Wild

  • When: Thursday, January 4th, 2024, 8:00 PM ET
  • Where: Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul, MN
  • Radio: Sportsnet 960 The Fan (Flames) // KFAN FM 100.3 (Wild)
  • Live Stream: ESPN+
  • NHL Betting Odds: Flames (+1.5) // Wild (-1.5)

The Wild are very short-handed offensively at the moment. Second-leading scorer Mats Zuccarello has been on injured reserve for about two weeks with an upper-body injury. He is eligible to be activated at any time but not likely Tuesday. Leading scorer Kirill Kaprizov is expected to miss one-to-two weeks with his own upper-body injury. Kaprizov, who was hurt in Saturday’s 4-2 loss to Winnipeg, could be out until mid-January if he doesn’t have a quick recovery. He has racked up 13 goals, 34 points and 110 shots on net in 34 contests this campaign. In Kaprizov’s absence Sunday versus the Jets, Marcus Johansson played on the top line and recent call-up Nicolas Petan occupied a middle-six role.

Goaltender Filip Gustavsson was also hurt Saturday in Winnipeg and placed on injured reserve Monday afternoon and he is expected to undergo an MRI on Tuesday. The team has not announced a timeline for either players’ return. Gustavsson, 25, is 10-9-2 with two shutouts, a 2.95 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage.

Fellow netminder Marc-Andre Fleury became the fourth goalie in NHL history to play in 1,000 games on Sunday in a home loss to Winnipeg. Martin Brodeur (1,266 games), Roberto Luongo (1,044) and Patrick Roy (1,029) are the only goalies to have played in more games than the 39-year-old Fleury, who is in his third season with the Wild. He spent the bulk of his career in Pittsburgh, making 691 appearances in 13 seasons with the Penguins.

“Obviously very flattered by the reception from the crowd, from my teammates. It means a lot,” Fleury said. “I feel very fortunate that I’ve played for so long, and I got to do what I love for many years. I’m lucky for that.”

Fleury took a “solo lap” before the Wild took the ice for the first period, a hockey tradition for players either making their NHL debut or on the brink of a milestone. He hopped onto the ice amid cheers and responded by firing a wrist shot into an open net before his teammates joined him.

The 39-year-old is expected to start Tuesday and go for his 551st win, which would tie him with Roy for second-most among goalies in NHL history. Brodeur has the most wins in NHL history with 691. Fleury said while playing street hockey as a kid, he’d usually pretend to be Roy or Brodeur.

“Roy obviously won the Cup, (I) got to see him play, and (he) brought in the butterfly, which I learned at a younger age, and I love his determination, his hunger to win,” Fleury said. “Brodeur was a guy that was more unpredictable on the ice. He would sometimes butterfly, sometimes one knee down, sometimes two-pad stack, poke-check, you know, and you see him smile too when he was playing. That was pretty cool, so those two guys.”

This already wraps up the season series between the teams with Minnesota leading 2-0. They last played on Dec. 14 in the Twin Cities and the Wild prevailed 3-2 in a shootout. Zuccarello and Matt Boldy scored in the shootout to lift the Wild. Boldy and Marco Rossi scored in regulation for Minnesota. Gustavsson stopped 36 shots in goal for the Wild. Yegor Sharangovich and Blake Coleman scored, while Dan Vladar made 30 saves for the Flames. Should be Jacob Markstrom in net here and not Vladar.

NHL Betting Pick: Wild

New Jersey Devis vs. Washington Capitals

  • When: Wednesday, January 3rd, 2024, 7:30 PM ET
  • Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
  • TV: TNT
  • Radio: 104.5 The Team ESPN (Devils) // WJFK 106.7 FM (Capitals)
  • Live Stream: ESPN+
  • NHL Betting Odds: TBA

We could see some history here as Caps blueliner John Carlson, a former Norris Trophy winner, is one assist shy of 500 career. He would become the sixth active defenseman to hit the mark and will join Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin as just the third player with as many helpers for the Capitals. Carlson can become the 13th defenseman in League history with 500 assists for one franchise and the third active blueliner on that list; he would join Kris Letang (Pittsburgh) and Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay).

Ovechkin scored his first career goal against Nashville’s Yaroslav Askarov over the weekend and has now scored a regular-season goal against 171 different goalies. The only players with as many are Jaromir Jagr (178) and Patrick Marleau (177). Ovechkin netted his 143rd career game-tying goal, extending his mark for most in NHL history. Wayne Gretzky (139), Dave Andreychuk (137) and Joe Sakic are the only others with at least 130.

Ovechkin has only seven goals this season but has scored twice over the last five games. That’s not impressive in the scope of his career, but it’s an improvement compared to the 14-game goal drought he endured from Nov. 22-Dec. 20. On the season, he’s produced seven tallies, 21 points, 126 shots on net, 61 hits and a minus-9 rating while maintaining a top-line role. His shot volume is still significant, but he has a career-low 5.6 shooting percentage. That’s well below his average of 12.9 percent over his previous 18 seasons.

Co-No. 1 goalie Charlie Lindgren suffered an upper-body injury in Friday’s 5-1 defeat versus the Islanders and probably won’t play at all this week. Lindgren has posted a 7-3-3 record this season with a 2.27 GAA and a .928 save percentage through 15 appearances. During his absence, Darcy Kuemper and Hunter Shepard will handle the goaltending duties.

New Jersey may need to make a move in net because No. 1 Vitek Vanecek sits 53rd of 57 netminders with an .883 save percentage this season. He ranks ahead of just Anton Forsberg, Arvid Soderblom, Ilya Samsonov and Antti Raanta among netminders who have played in at least 11 games.

Star forward Timo Meier left Saturday’s game versus the Bruins with an injury and may be out a while. Curtis Lazar or Colin Miller could be options to enter the lineup if so. Meier has nine goals and six assists. Devils rookie defenseman Luke Hughes was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week, running from Dec. 25-31.

Hughes, the fourth-overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, posted three goals and five points during three games during the week. The 6-foot-2, 184-pound blueliner recorded a three-game goal/point streak in that span. Hughes, 20, became the sixth defenseman in the past 20 years with a three-game goal streak at age 20 or younger. The others are Owen Power, Mikhail Sergachev, Rasmus Ristolainen, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Cam Fowler.

Hughes’ 21 points ranks fourth overall among all NHL rookies, while his seven goals and 21 points both rank first among all rookie defensemen. Hughes is currently on a three-game goal-scoring streak, the longest that a rookie defenseman earned in franchise history since 1982-83. New Jersey is 2-0 vs. Washington this season, winning both at home.

NHL Betting Pick: Devils

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